Martha Stewart Living acquired for US$353 million
Martha Stewart single- handedly changed the game for home decorating and cooking in the late 1990s, becoming the “it” designer for all things domestic.
But the announcement on Monday of an acquisition of her media and merchandising empire in a deal that values the company at far less than in it was worth in its glory days shows how much her brand has eroded over the years.
Martha Stewart’s is being sold to Sequential Brands Group, which owns and licenses such brands as Ellen Tracy and Jessica Simpson, in a deal valued at $353 million. That’s a fraction of the $1.8 billion valuation when the company went public in 1999.
“The days when people looked to one person to tell them how to entertain, live tastefully are gone,” said Allen Adamson, chairman of Landor Associates, a brand research firm. “Today, there are many voices. She can’t go back to retaking that mantle because that mantle is gone.”
It’s a shift from when Stewart built her business, from books to TV shows, based on her penchant for decorating and cooking. Stewart cultivated legions of loyal fans, all eager to know the best way to decorate a cake, set the Thanksgiving table or plan a cocktail party. Business was booming, and Stewart consolidated her businesses into one company in 1997 and then took that company public in 1999.