Martha Stewart has sold her media and merchandising business to Sequential Brands, a licensing company for $353 million marking a dramatic fall in the value of a business which was once valued at over $2 billion at its peak in 2005. It was reported that Sequential would be paying $6.15 for every share, half in cash and half in stock to shareholders of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company said that Martha Stewart would become a significant shareholder in a public limited company of Sequential Brands and Martha Stewart Living and would also be part of its board of Directors. In a statement, Martha Stewart said that the deal is a transformational one for the company.
New York based Sequential Brands has been buying celebrity brands and signing licensing deals with retailers not just in the United States but globally over the last many years. The deals brings to an end the independent existence of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The brand, which had made its founder a billionaire, during the dot com era. But the fortunes of the brand have been ebbing over the last many years. The public image of Ms. Stewart has also taken a hit over the years. From being a domestic goddess who could do no wrong to being a white collar criminal and spending 5 months in Federal prison on charges of Insider trading.
The scandal had forced Martha to leave the company for many years but she retained her stake and returned to the company in 2011 and became non-executive chairman shortly after. The company has been trying to cut costs since her return as the company tries to compete with the new age of social media and “influencers”. Many believe that with the advent of social media, now there are thousands of Martha Stewarts.