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Originally published April 7, 2014 at 6:15 AM | Page modified April 7, 2014 at 11:31 AM

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Lands' End starts trading as public company

Lands' End shares are falling in its first day as a separate public company after being spun off from Sears.


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NEW YORK —

Lands' End shares are falling in its first day as a separate public company after being spun off from Sears.

The company's stock dropped $2.17, or 6.8 percent, to $29.50 in Monday morning trading.

Lands' End was publicly traded before Sears Holdings Corp. purchased it in 2002 for nearly $2 billion. Sears hasn't had much success with it though, and announced in December that it was going to spin off the clothing business as a separate company by distributing stock to its shareholders. It closed on the spinoff on Friday.

Sears received gross proceeds of $500 million from the separation. That consisted of a cash dividend paid by Lands' End to a subsidiary of Sears Holdings before the spinoff.

The spinoff by Sears has been viewed as a way to unlock value for investors as the retailer's core business struggles after years of sales declines. The company, which also runs Kmart stores, has been closing some unprofitable stores and sold some store leases in Canada.

Sears has spun off other businesses over the past three years, including its Hometown and Sears Outlet stores and its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, to raise cash. It has also said it is considering separating its auto center business.

Billionaire hedge fund manager and Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, who took over as CEO in February 2013, has been under intense pressure to turn around the business. Sears has had trouble adapting as bigger, nimbler rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. have stolen away customers over the years.

In 2012 Sears announced plans to restore profitability by cutting costs, reducing inventory, selling off some assets and spinning off others. Those moves helped the Hoffman Estates, Ill., company reduce net debt by $400 million and generated $1.8 billion in cash from the asset sales. Sears also has been building a loyalty program called Shop Your Way, which accounts for a majority of its sales and has tens of millions of active customers.

But critics say Sears hasn't managed to solve its core problem: Its stores aren't inviting to shoppers.

Lands' End began in 1963 as a sailboat hardware and equipment catalog. Sears bought it in 2002. The company is trading on the Nasdaq under the "LE" ticker symbol.

Sears Holdings will continue to list on the Nasdaq under the "SHLD" ticker symbol. Its stock rose 58 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $41.26 in morning trading.



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