Category Archives: New Products

Martha to Open a Cafe in NYC!

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Martha is venturing into retail again, this time in the form of a cafe! Martha and Co. will be opening a cafe in the same building in which MSLO is headquartered; the landmark Starrett-Lehigh Building in Manhattan’s Chelsea District. Details are scarce at this point, but the search for qualified baristas has already begun.

One detail that was made public during Macy’s lawsuit against Martha is the fact that in the “exclusive” contract with Macy’s, Martha has retained the right to sell Martha Stewart-branded items in stand-alone stores that bear her name. At the time, there was a Martha Stewart store in Japan, that sold Martha items.

Knowing Martha, this cafe will be only a beginning. Since product licensing represents a significant amount of MSLO’s profit-making enterprises, it seems reasonable to expect there will be other Martha Stewart-branded items for sale here. And with America’s love affair with all things Martha continuing, one can be sure the cafe will be a smash success. I mean, who wouldn’t want to share a cup of coffee with Martha herself, right?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-02/martha-stewart-living-opening-first-cafe-in-new-york-city.html

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Now Available: Martha Stewart Coffee!

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Martha has put her seal of approval, and name, on a new line of coffee. The coffee products were developed by Ulivjava, a company cofounded by Martha’s personal trainer, Mary Tedesco. The coffee is infused with vitamins and herbs, and fits in nicely with Martha’s call to us all to live “the good long life”. What do you think, FOMs: Will you be having coffee with Martha?

My opinion:  This product line has a bad name, if you ask me–it’s difficult to know how to pronounce when you read it, and essentially un-Googleable. Also, I see it spelled both “Ulivjava” and “ULIVjava”, so there’s built-in opportunities for inconsistency. My alternate suggestion would have been “Javalive”, which is much easier to pronouce and based on the same two words. Also, I would make Martha’s name bolder on the labels–but I’m terribly biased on that topic. 🙂

From the Daily Coffee News article:

Stewart’s personal trainer for the past 10 years, Mary Tedesco, and “celebrity nutritionist” Kathleen Schoen, who co-founded the Ulivjava brand, say the product was “inspired by Martha Stewart and her commitment to health, wellness and vitality.” As luck would have it, Stewart enjoyed tasting the RTD product so much that she decided to put her name right there on the package and help the owners push Ulivjava through her social media channels and her Martha Stewart Living magazine. “I love everything ULIVjava stands for — health and wellness with your daily coffee,” Stewart said in an announcement this week.

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MarthaPantry is Now Online!

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Be sure to visit the MarthaPantry section on the JC Penney website! Loads of super-cool pantry items–salts, oils, heirloom beans, baking mixes. The selection is much broader than I anticipated! FOMs: Let’s start tasting! If you try a MarthaPantry item, post your comments here and I’ll share with others. Yum!

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There was some good news today for Martha in the trial with Macy’s.

First, it may be useful to back up a bit: The case is actually made up of several different claims, including breach of contract, breach of confidentiality, unfair competition, and tortious interference. In some claims, Macy’s has won injunctions, which are essentially temporary smaller rulings in Macy’s favor while the larger issues are resolved permanently in the courtroom. For example, in one injunction, the judge ruled that Martha may NOT sell items in JC Penney stores until the issue of exclusivity has been resolved completely. Macy’s asked the judge to broaden that existing injunction to include items that were designed by MSLO designers but did NOT have Martha’s name on them. These items are instead branded as “jcp Everyday”. Martha insists that these items–$100 million worth of them are already at distribution centers awaiting shipment to JC Penney stores–do NOT violate the exclusivity clause of her contract with Macy’s. Good News: Today, the judge sided with Martha, so these “jcp Everyday” items will begin appearing in JC Penney stores very soon!

However, the judge ruled that the trial would continue on to the next phase. You see, up to this point, Macy’s has been doing all the talking, as they present their case that MSLO violated the exclusivity clause of their contract. Today, the judge took into account all that Macy’s has presented thus far and agreed that may in fact be true. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the trial now shifts to a new phase; one in which MSLO gets to present THEIR side of the story to counter Macy’s claim. Go get ’em, Team Martha!

It is important to note that the judge in this case is still imploring the three parties involved to reach a settlement among themselves, without a judge’s ruling. Contract disputes such as this one are not entirely uncommon, and are often resolved with a financial settlement. In this case, JC Penney and MSLO could buy-out Macy’s contract (or just the exclusivity clause of the contract) although that seems unlikely, given the degree to which Macy’s seems to rely on the Martha Stewart Collection to generate traffic in its stores. By allowing the trial to go forward, and relying on the judge’s ruling, either party risks losing entirely.

Martha vs. Macy’s: Judge Rules JC Penney May Begin Selling Some Items

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Martha vs. Macy’s: Judge Orders Mediation, NY Times Article on Why the Case Matters

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Yesterday, the New York Times had an article on the subject underlying the current court case between Macy’s and MSLO: that it is essentially “a schoolyard fight between two boys — the chief executives of Macy’s and J. C. Penney — over the most popular girl on the playground.”

If you have been following MSLO lately, you would not be blamed for worrying about the current state of the company–the stock price has plummeted and stabilized at the low end, the company is heavily vested in traditional media (which is undergoing much tumult industry-wide) and has suffered layoffs, it has all but lost its television presence, and there is unsettled leadership (former CEO Lisa Gersh stepped down after only five months at the helm). The one fiscal bright spot at the company of late has been its merchandising. Simply, Martha is still seen in the eyes of the public as an arbiter of good taste and high quality, and most importantly, consumers trust her. If Martha says it’s a good thing–you can be sure it’s a good thing.

It is Martha’s reputation for producing good products that the two retail giants–Macy’s and JC Penney’s–are hoping to leverage in their stores. Indeed, embattled JC Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson’s job may depend on his Martha Stewart-anchored plan to resuscitate that company’s housewares department. And, as the Associated Press reported:

“[Macy’s CEO Terry] Lundgren said Macy’s has spent 40 percent of its overall marketing on the Martha Stewart brand and other labels in the home area, even though the home category represents 17 percent of total sales. That’s because even though the home area is typically slow turning, it drives shoppers to the store. “I need the Martha Stewart business to be exclusive,” Lundgren said. “I don’t have a substitute.”

The judge ordered the three companies into mediation on Friday, in an attempt to have them resolve the issues themselves without a court-ordered judgement. So, even as the courtroom drama continues, one thing is for certain: the Martha Stewart brand is still as strong as ever in the eyes of consumers. And that is most definitely a good thing for MSLO.

Check out this very flattering quote from the New York Times article :

It is easy to forget that Ms. Stewart altered the way that people live by decoupling class and taste. Part of the reason that she seems embattled — her media empire is shrinking fast — is that she won her corner of the culture war. When you go into Target or Walmart and see a sage green towel that is soft to the touch, it may not carry her brand, but it reflects her hand. Her tasteful touch — in colors, in cooking, in bedding — is now ubiquitous; she just doesn’t get to cash all the checks anymore.

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Martha vs. Macy’s: Martha Testified Today

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As you probably know, the Martha vs. Macy’s trial has begun. Let’s recap the relevant developments:

– In 2005, MSLO and Macy’s enter into an agreement to sell Martha Stewart branded items in Macy’s stores. The agreement gives Macy’s exclusive rights to sell Martha Stewart branded items in specific categories: bedding, bath, cookware, and dinnerware. Importantly, the agreement also contains language that allows MSLO to sell Martha Stewart branded items outside Macy’s stores, as long as they are sold in stand-alone Martha Stewart stores. (For at the time, there was a single Martha Stewart store in Japan.)

– In 2011, MSLO entered into a partnership with JC Penney to sell Martha-branded items in dedicated spaces inside JC Penney stores, essentially creating a Martha Stewart “store within a store” in JC Penney stores nationwide.

– In 2012, Macy’s sued both MSLO and JC Penney, claiming that the partnership was a breach of Macy’s exclusive right to sell Martha Stewart branded items in the specific product categories. Initially, Macy’s asked the judge to order MSLO to cease any collaborative efforts with JC Penney until after the issue was resolved at trial. However, the judge did not allow Macy’s request.

– Since then, MSLO and JC Penney have forged ahead to create MarthaHome, a “store within a store” offering three collections of products: MarthaPantry (food items), MarthaCelebrations (paper party products), and MarthaWindow (window treatments). It is also known that MSLO designers are working with JC Penney to create the “JC Penney Everyday” collection, which will offer products in those categories to which Macy’s claims to hold exclusive rights. In order to adhere to the MSLO-Macy’s exclusivity agreement, the JC Penney Everyday products will NOT have any Martha Stewart branding on them. (Although there is a connection: “Martha Stewart Everyday” was the name of Martha’s collection sold at Kmart stores from 1997 – 2009. Also, MSLO has for many years had a publication called “Everyday Food”, which also inspired a popular TV cooking show, also called “Everyday Food”.)

Today, Martha appeared in court and testified for four hours. She said that she believed her agreement with JC Penney was structured to be in compliance with the MSLO-Macy’s agreement. She also claimed that Macy’s had breached the contract by not maximizing sales of the Martha Stewart Collection at its stores. Martha claimed that she wanted to open Martha “store within a store” concept in Macy’s, but they were cool to the idea.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

From The Huffington Post:

The biggest opportunities for Martha Stewart Living are in selling products for the home, including bedding, bath and kitchen merchandise. That’s because as the housing recovery gains momentum in the economic recovery, people likely will put more money into their homes.

During her testimony on Tuesday, Stewart said she always wanted to open big shops within Macy’s stores, but the retailer never embraced that concept. Instead, she said the merchandise in Macy’s stores is just “here and there.”

That’s why she said that a proposal from Penney’s Johnson to create shops filled with home merchandise was appealing to her. She called Johnson a “visionary.”

“We hoped this business would be growing,” Stewart said. “It just boggles my mind that we’re here sitting in front of you, judge.”

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Details on Martha Stewart Products Offered in MarthaHome at JC Penney!

marthahome_130211Thanks again to FOM Alan for this tip!

Sounds like MarthaHome will launch with offerings carefully selected to comply with those categories Macy’s feels they have the “exclusive” right to sell: specifically, cookware, kitchen  utensils, bedding, and bath. Instead MarthaHome will offer Martha Stewart Pantry (pantry and food items) and Martha Stewart Celebrations (paper party items).

Interestingly, the article in Dallas Morning News mentions a new private label called “Everyday” to be offered at JC Penney stores. (The retailer’s brand tagline is “Every Day Matters.”) This new private label is interesting because, of course, “Martha Stewart Everyday” was the name of Martha’s line at Kmart–a line which featured products in those very categories that Martha is now forbidden to sell at other retailers, according to Macy’s interpretation of the contract. It is unclear if MSLO has been involved in the development of the new “Everyday” line at JC Penney–but as long as it’s not sold with Martha’s name on it, it would be considered legal per the Macy’s agreement. It is also unclear if Martha’s contract with Macy’s has language in it to protect any intellectual property that she already owned before entering into her contract with Macy’s, which would leave open the possibility of selling products under the “Martha Stewart Everyday” brand online or through the mail–although not at another retailer.

It is worth nothing that when the Martha Stewart Collection launched at Macy’s in 2007, Martha Stewart Everyday products were still being being sold at Kmart. It wasn’t until the end of 2009 that Martha Stewart Everyday ended its run at Kmart. So, Macy’s didn’t originally have a problem with the duplicate categories being sold at another retailer.

From the Dallas Morning News website:

The other legal challenge is a lawsuit Macy’s brought against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia over its celebrity founder’s participation in the Penney transformation. Lawsuits between Macy’s, Martha Stewart Living and Penney were consolidated last year, and the case goes to trial Feb. 20.

For now, Martha Stewart’s name is on rugs, window coverings and two new lines, Martha Stewart Pantry, a collection of food mixes, and Martha Stewart Celebration, a large selection of paper party products.

The 1,100-store chain also has a new private label called Everyday that includes bed, bath, tabletop, cookware and furniture, categories that Stewart must avoid due to a court order.

Penney plans to open its Martha Stewart shops by Mother’s Day in 536 stores.

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Martha vs. Macys: Trial Date Set for February 19

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MSLO and Macy’s will meet in court to settle their conflicting assessments of Martha’s new J.C. Penney partnership and its impact on Martha’s existing partnership with Macy’s. Regardless of the outcome, Martha will launch her “store within a store” partnership with J.C. Penney in Spring 2013. The lawsuit will simply determine what products are offered there, as well as what brand name will appear on these products. Macy’s argues that the J.C. Penney partnership harms the competitive advantage they enjoy from having the exclusive rights to sell Martha Stewart household items, while MSLO argues that Macy’s has not been merchandising Martha Stewart items in good faith. MSLO claims that Macy’s advertises Martha Stewart items in order to attract customers, who then find Macy’s house brands, which are more profitable for the company, better merchandised and more plentifully stocked. Go, Martha, go!

From Bloomberg/Business Week website:

Macy’s Inc.’s bid to prevent Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. from executing a sales agreement with J.C. Penney Co. is set to go to trial Feb. 19.

The case won’t be tried before a jury and there will be no need to decide damages, Judge Jeffrey K. Oing said today in New York state court in Manhattan.

Any potential damages in the dispute “are going to pale in comparison to the injunction,” Oing said during a hearing. “That’s the real big bucks there — if I stop this deal.”

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Martha’s New Book, “Living the Good Long Life”, to be published January 2013

Martha provided some details on her blog about her next book, “Living the Good Long Life”. Martha definitely seems well-qualified to offer advice on the topic: At 71, she looks absolutely smashing and appears remarkably calm for a business leader focused on a pivotal year ahead, including the launch of the new partnership with J.C. Penney and her new line of fine furniture. What do you think, FOMs: Are you looking forward to Martha’s new book? What did you think of Martha’s “Homekeeping Handbook”?

(Confession: “Homekeeping Handbook” is probably the Martha book I love the most. It is an encyclopedia of EVERYTHING one needs to know about keeping a home, from setting a table to cleaning every household item imaginable. It’s an large, informative and impressive book. I’ve even shared with others as a housewarming gift.)

From the Martha Stewart blog:

“This new book, ‘Living the Good Long Life’, has an expected publication date of January 29, 2013. What my ‘Homekeeping Handbook’ did for every aspect of keeping house, ‘Living the Good Long Life’ does for living the most healthy life after 40. In this book, I impart my expertise in my signature topics – eating, exercise, intellect, home, and organizing. It’s really the definitive handbook on staying well physically and mentally into and beyond middle age. This book is important because over the next 20 years, the US population of baby boomers aged 65 and up will jump nearly 80 percent to 1 in every 5 Americans. There’s a tremendous need for clear and inspiring information, tools, and resources as more people and their families face the challenges and responsibility of getting older and caring for one who is aging.”

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She’s Back!: MSLO Elects Martha Stewart Non-Executive Chairman Of MSLO’s Board Of Directors

It’s hard to believe that whatever her title is, Martha doesn’t call the shots at her namesake company. Truth is, her role in the company probably dictates that others be dedicated to executive positions, which allows Martha to operate as its chief public representative. Whatever the particulars, I for one am glad to hear that Martha will now be recognized as MSLO’s Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. You go, Martha!

Here’s the part of the news release that I found most interesting:

In December 2011, the Company entered into a strategic alliance with J.C. Penney Company, Inc., which includes a merchandising agreement to build distinct Martha Stewart stores in jcpenney department stores, and to jointly develop an e-commerce site, both of which are expected to launch in 2013.

Sounds like the beloved Martha by Mail catalog may be returning in an online format? It remains to be seen if this e-commerce site will feature only Martha Stewart at J.C. Penney products, or if it will offer products by others that are curated by Martha and her team as was the case with the Martha By Mail catalog.

From PR NewsWire:

Martha Stewart said: “I am thrilled to be elected Non-Executive Chairman of our Board, a group that shares my deep commitment to the Company and its success. I look forward to working closely with our directors and our management team as we focus on the future, capitalizing on the strength of our brand and our amazing customer connection to continue building our business so that it realizes its full and considerable potential.”

via Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Elects Martha Stewart Non-Executive Chairman Of MSLO’s Board Of Directors – MarketWatch.

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