NY Post: JCPenney Ends Affair With Martha Stewart

Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 11:38 AM

By Michelle Smith

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An end has come to JCPenney and Macy's long battle over the right to sell Martha Stewart goods. JCPenney has decided to end its stormy affair with Stewart, The New York Post revealed.

Macy's signed an exclusivity deal with Martha Stewart in 2007. For over a year, the retailer has been engaged in a legal battle with JCPenney to determine who has the right to sell certain types of Stewart's home items.

A New York judge was expected to issue a final ruling on the case in upcoming days. But JCPenney CEO Mike Ullman has decided Stewart and the $200 million deal aren't worth the trouble, The Post reported.

Editor’s Note:
Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

A court decision had already forced JCPenney to stop marketing the disputed products under the "Martha Stewart Everyday" brand, prompting the company to turn to using "JCPenney Everyday." But The Post said the retailer quietly abandoned that trademark in June.

JCPenney is already in the process of liquidating the disputed goods, with the prices on some inventory slashed by 50 percent, sources told The Post.

Many retail experts had concluded that JCPenney was overvaluing its relationship with Stewart and could do without her products.

"Martha Stewart is past her sell-by date," Mark Cohen, a professor at Columbia Business School and former CEO of Sears Canada, told Forbes.

He criticized ousted JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson's "village idiot" strategy of converting the retailer into a collection of in-store shops, whereby Stewart was mixed with niche designers and hip, casual brands.

"It's this very strange mix of edgy Joe Fresh and dumb, bland Martha Stewart. No one with a scintilla of intelligence just presumes an idea like that will succeed," he noted.

Ullman headed JCPenney in the past and returned to the CEO role in April, attempting to revive the struggling retailer. According The Post, an insider stated Ullman was critical of having Martha in the mix when he took over.

"Mike [Ullman] said her designs aren't that great," the source told the paper. "He says they're not selling, and they're nothing that your normal Joe Schmoe can't come up with."

"Ullman made the decision for the judge," the Post says a knowledgeable source revealed. "They definitely are not going to carry [Martha Stewart home goods] any longer and [they are] not waiting for the court ruling."

Editor’s Note: Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

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