A New Chapter in the Land’s End Story

In the book, SUNDAY ON THE HILL: LEADERSHIP LESSONS LEARNED FROM OUR CANINE FRIENDS, I cite the leadership failure of the Land’s End CEO (these aren’t my personal views, by the way, but those of the Land’s End Board which dismissed Federica Marchionni). In a move in mid-December, 2016, the Board named Jerome Griffith to the CEO’s position beginning March, 2017. Among the many complaints about Ms. Marchionni was the fact that she refused to move to Wisconsin (Land’s End headquarters) but instead remained in NYC, visiting headquarters only once a month. (Heck-of–way to run a business!) Griffith explains that he’ll be moving to Dodgeville, WI when he assumes the role as CEO. While Ms. Marchionni, for reasons known only to herself, tried to make over the outdoor-oriented company into one that sold high-fashion goods, Mr. Griffith is described as an “outdoor lifestyle kind of guy,” has travelled across 3 continents on his Harley motorcycle, and practices mixed martial arts (much-maligned by M. Streep). Land’s End logged a $19.5 million loss during Ms. Marchionni’s tenure (information provided by the WSJ in the Dec. 20, 2016 edition), from a $73.8 million dollar profit the year before. Easy to see why the Board might have been concerned. Since Ms. Marchionni’s departure, the company has refocused on the classic clothing offerings that it has long been known for. Land’s End problems began during the time that it was owned by Sears Holdings Corp. and it has since lacked the right leadership to “right the ship.” Thus, here’s to a reinvigorated branding of the venerable company and good luck wishes for Jerome Griffith on putting that zest back into the company’s secret sauce.

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