By  on August 1, 2011

It’s been a long haul for Lands’ End at Sears Holdings, and a challenging integration since Sears bought the brand in June 2002.

Now Lands’ End could enter a new phase of development with the outside-the-box appointment of Edgar Huber as president and chief executive officer.

Most recently, Huber was executive vice president of global business development for Liz Claiborne Inc. and prior to that was president and ceo of the Juicy Couture brand from 2008 until February. Earlier in his career he held senior posts at L’Oréal overseeing a portfolio of brands including Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Diesel Fragrances, Lancôme, Shu Uemura and the Kiehl’s Since 1851 brand.

On Monday, when Huber’s appointment was revealed, Lou D’Ambrosio, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president, said “One of the tenets of the cultural transformation we are building at Sears Holdings is that everything begins and ends with the customer, something that has been a hallmark of Lands’ End’s business for the nearly 50 years of its existence. I am confident that Edgar will not only be a strong steward of that history, but given his deep background in retailing and brand building both in the U.S. and abroad, that he will be able to grow the business and find new ways to delight Lands’ End’s customers.”

“Lands’ End is a leading multichannel retailer, but more than that, it’s become a brand that millions of customers have come to put considerable trust in,” said Huber.

In May, Lands’ End’s former president Nick Coe was named ceo of Bath & Body Works.

Huber was not available for further comment Monday on his plans for Lands’ End, but he could inject some fashion into a 39-year-old, traditional brand known for bright colors and classic styling, and advance the new Canvas division of Lands’ End. Canvas, launched in late 2009, offers head-to-toe apparel and accessories for men and women with a younger mind-set, slimmer fit and modern styling. There are only 24 Canvas shops inside Sears stores and one stand-alone Canvas store in Madison, Wisc.

There’s room to grow the retailing side of the mother ship as well. Lands’ End does not operate any regular-price stores, though there are 13 “inlets,” which is a play on the word ‘outlet’ reflecting the brand’s sailing heritage. The inlets sell some regular price goods but are seen as primarily clearance vehicles. The inlets are all located in the Midwest, except for one in Rochester, N.Y. Inside 293 Sears department stores, there are The Lands’ End shops, which are at least 10,000 square feet in size. Soon after Sears bought the brand, Lands’ End was introduced to all Sears locations. There are currently 894 stores. However, the presentation was flawed. Depending on the category, the label was scattered throughout the store, making it difficult for customers to shop the brand and yielding less-than-satisfactory results. Sears eventually pulled Lands’ End out of many of its stores and created Lands’ End in-store shops housing the products in one, easy-to-shop spot that had more impact. In addition, Lands’ End has catalogues for its apparel and home offerings and was an early adopter of the Internet, launching a Web site in 1995.

In an apparent anomaly, there is a large Lands’ End presentation at the Kmart in Bridgehampton, N.Y. It’s been there for several years yet Sears Holdings, which owns the Kmart chain, has yet to put Lands’ End in any other Kmart location.

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