Martha Stewart crafts program steals spotlight  

New York – While Kmart has “played a tremendous role in helping us build our business,” Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said it is looking to “horizons” and fresh opportunities to tap new retail partners and consumers via Macy’s and its growing craft offerings.

During the company’s presentation at the Collins Stewart Fourth Annual Growth conference here yesterday, MSLO co-ceo Wenda Harris Millard described the future of the Martha merchandising division as “a new story, and it’s a story about diversification, and a story about growth.”

However, the Martha Stewart Collection – launched at Macy’s with great fanfare last September – was not mentioned until more than halfway through the presentation. Specific sales results for the exclusive program remain undisclosed from either the retailer or MSLO. But Millard said it has been “a great success so far, even in this challenged retail and general economic environment. Home generates $4 billion in annual sales at Macy's, and we’ve often said that our deal would be a home run if we captured 10% of that.”

She said MSLO has been preparing over the past several years for the “sun setting” on its royalties-heavy Kmart deal, which ends January 2010. “The fruits of our labor are just beginning to materialize now on those other retail relationships,” she said, later adding, “Growing our craft franchise as well as building out our Macy’s business are key priorities.”

Home textiles – no matter how key – was scarcely mentioned in her discussion. The focus was squarely on the new crafts merchandise launch at Wal-Mart, which is built upon the program begun more than one year ago and currently placed in more than 900 Michael’s crafts specialty stores.

Millard quoted the crafts category as a $30 billion industry at retail, and one that is apparently devoid of leaders or established brands cherished by consumers. “So that’s a tremendous opportunity for a brand like ours that has made its mark in how-to content for entertaining in the home,” she added. “With Wal-Mart now on board, we have a significant presence at specialty and mass, and we believe we’re on our way to establishing the first true national brand in the crafts arena,” she said.

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