Sears (SHLD) doesn’t have to try to keep up with the Kardashians anymore.
The struggling retailer stopped offering items in the Kardashian Kollection in its stores earlier this year in what was a mutual decision, a spokesman told Fortune, confirming an earlier report by celebrity news site TMZ.
The split-up ends an exclusive department store collaboration begun in 2011 that had been intended to raise Sears’ fashion quotient and bring in much-needed new shoppers. It was also intended to bring the three Kardashian sisters’ (Kim, Kourtney and Khloe) fashion empire to the masses. But ultimately the Kollection, as it is known, flopped with customers. The merchandise regularly ended up at deep discounts in Sears stores, in contrast to rosy initial forecasts by the Kardashians’ designer that it would generate $200 million to $300 million a year.
“We have enjoyed a positive relationship for over three years and proud that we were their first partnership in apparel,” Sears’ spokesman Brian Hanover said in an e-mailed statement. The collection was sold through in-house shops at 400 Sears stores and featured ready-to-wear apparel, handbags, lingerie, jewelry and footwear.
At the time of the announcement, in January 2011, many in the fashion press said the combination stretched the limits of credulity. Could anyone really imagine the Kardashians, who are known for their designer tastes, shopping at Sears? (They did, the sisters insisted at the time.)
Citing sources, TMZ said the Kardashian family made the decision because of the retailer’s struggles in recent years. But Hanover told the Chicago Tribune that the TMZ report is “totally false.” Still, Sears Holdings has been grappling with weak sales numbers for years. In February, it reported its eleventh straight quarterly loss as comparable sales fell 7% at its namesake chain, and 2% at Kmart. Sears has lost a total of $7 billion in the last four fiscal years.
Either way, Sears can’t get rid of the merchandise quickly enough. A Kardashian Kollection women’s lace bodice sheath dress, normally priced $189, was marked down to $29.99 Tuesday evening.
Though the Kardashians are among the most talked about celebrities in the world, Sears Holdings has other celebrity partnerships to fall back on: Adam Levine and Nicki Minaj sell collections at 500 Kmart stores.
In any event, the end of the Kardashian line could be a blessing for Sears. Hanover said the company’s apparel strategy is focused on “elevating product in our private label brands and rightsizing our brand portfolio.” Apparel and soft home goods came to a combined $3.7 billion at Sears last year, or 22% of sales. But gross profit margins in the apparel category fell. Blame the Kardashians for some of that.
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