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.

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