GERSH STEPS DOWN: Lisa Gersh, chief executive officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, has resigned her post after five months. A search is underway for a successor who will focus on building the company’s merchandising business, acdording to the firm. Gersh will retain her position during the transition period.

After challenging advertising sales in its media business which contributed to four straight years of losses and declining revenue, MSLO aims to sell more merchandise through retailers, the company said. MSLO entered into a deal last year with J.C. Penney Co. which is expected to start building revenue in early 2013.

“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.

MSLO, which reported a $50 million loss in the third quarter, recently laid off about 70 staffers from its magazines in addition to closing Whole Living and Everyday Food.

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