MSLO CEO Lisa Gersh is Stepping Down (Already)

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After only 5 months in the CEO position at MSLO, Lisa Gersh is stepping down. Gersh joined the company in June 2011 as president and COO but was named CEO in July. Before joining Martha Stewart Living, Gersh co-founded Oxygen Media LLC where she was president and COO from 1998 until 2007 when it was acquired by NBC Universal.

Two things:

1. Gersh’s television background doesn’t really fit with MSLO since Martha’s cable TV show was cancelled by Hallmark. Now, Martha’s only regular television presence is on PBS, where she hosts “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School”. Of course, being a commercial-free channel doesn’t exactly make PBS the best place to promote Martha’s own products and those of her sponsors.

2. Word on the street is that there was tension between Gersh, an experienced media executive, and Martha herself. Uh-oh.

Wall Street was not happy with the news of Gersh’s departure: Shares of MSLO fell as much as 9.7% in early trading after the news surfaced.

FOMs: Whew! With all the changes that occurred in 2013, MSLO is positioned to have a stellar 2013. There are lots of new projects on their way: a new vegetarian EDF cookbook in January, resolution of the Macy’s lawsuit in January, the new store-within-a-store at J.C. Penney in March, Martha’s “Living the Good Long Life” book in May. Full speed ahead!

From Bloomberg.com:

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO), the company founded by home-decor guru Martha Stewart, said Chief Executive Officer Lisa Gersh will step down, part of an effort to bolster its merchandising business.

After sluggish advertising sales in its media business contributed to four straight years of losses and declining revenue, Martha Stewart Living is focusing more on selling merchandise through retailers. The company entered an agreement in late 2011 with J.C. Penney Co., a deal that will start boosting revenue by early 2013, according to the statement.

“We are now increasing our capabilities in merchandising and plan to take full advantage of that opportunity for the benefit of our shareholders,” Stewart, who serves as non- executive chairman, said in the statement.

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