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Craftsman, a century-old staple of Sears’ tool department may soon operate independently of its department-store master. According to a CNN report, “Sears Holdings Corp. plans to reorganize into several companies,” specifically it appears that they intend to split out the Craftsman and Diehard brands. CNN interviewed a Sears spokeswoman who said that the new structure would provide the “operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy.”

The combination of Sears and Craftsman has always been a real powerhouse in the industry, mating decent quality, inexpensive tools to an easily-accessible retail store — a task that other tool manufacturers (lacking their own retail facilities) have found daunting. Could this split mean that we’ll see Craftsman tools for sale in other retailers — even Wal-Mart? Or could this announcement lead to further inroads for other manufacturers into Sears tool aisles?

We can’t help but think that with its own corporate structure, Craftsman might choose to bring more design and manufacturing back in house — which might help to improve the some-are-great-some-not-so-much quality of their power tool and yard equipment lines.

One thing’s certain: if Craftsman retains their prominent Sears placement and expands to other retailers, hand tool manufacturers everywhere will be sweating this year.

We’ll keep a close eye on this story and will pass on any information as we come across it.

Sears To Break Into Several Companies [CNN Money]

 

26 Responses to Breaking News: Sears And Craftsman Split

  1. I think that this is an essential move for Craftsman and Sears as a whole if they are to survive the next few years. Craftsman tools have been suffering from price yo-yoing, overall poor customer service, and other trends one expects from department stores.

    Sears would be well off to follow Circuit City and Verizon’s business model, where the cellular provider has small independent kiosks in every CC location. If Craftsman was run by an independent entity within each existing Sears location, the consumer would benefit from better customer service, more reliable pricing, and hopefully more potent advertising.

    A nice first step for Craftsman would be to improve their website and launch their own e-store. Sears’ online shopping experience suffers from too many flaws that most e-tailers eliminated years ago. This includes inventory and pricing inconsistencies, in-store pickup issues, failure to honor shipping time guarantees, the inability to cancel orders once they enter the processing stage, and instances where orders are “just randomly stuck in the system.”

    That last one happened to me recently when Sears offered free shipping on all tools. Three weeks after the estimated delivery day, I finally received a phone call explaining why my order wouldn’t ship, couldn’t be cancelled, and was stuck in “processing” for one and a half weeks after the “maximum of two days.”

    An important thing to consider – if the Craftsman name gets torn from Sears and makes appearances at Walmart, Target, and elsewhere, who will honor the lifetime warranties…

  2. Sunny says:

    This is probably not a good move. By splitting the companies the holding corp hopes to leverage (read “whore out”) the Craftsman brand. While a good things could come of such a move, Sears Holding Corp does has made bad move after bad move and I could easily see them cheapening the brand–ever seen “Brinks” security products? They are the cheapest crap because the brand owner whored out the brand name for a quick buck. I suspect the same kind of thing could happen to Craftsman as the company creates cheaper products for placement in high volume retailers like Walmart.

    I don’t think this move will turn Craftsman in to a SnapOn Killer, quite the opposite, I fear, and it may turn into a Craftsman Killer.

    • Cpatton says:

      I am torn between seeing a great old time Co. go down the drain and getting this junk shit off the floor. Their yard eqpt. is the cheapest junk you can find and the customer service is a joke at best.Craftman could make it work, as always if a product is good it will sell its self, but they have to get back to a good product, and customer service has to be just as good as the product. The way things are I really can`t see either happening

  3. Chaim says:

    I’m wondering if Sears is going to start spinning off into multiple companies. I’m not sure companies would be jumping up and down to buy Sears/Kmart…lots of money, limited value. But put Craftsman on the auction block, companies would be all over buying the brand!

  4. mike d says:

    Chuck is thinking like somebody at Sears/Craftsman cares what happens to the company years down the road. I guarantee you that if they split Craftsman off the quality will fall far and fast. They’ll slash quality to cut costs and get into more distribution channels. The executives will get bonuses based on that short term sales bump and then once everyone figures out Craftsman tools are as good as HarborFreight specials they’ll sell the name and you’ll see Craftsman screwdrivers at your local 7-11 and think fondly of they day they made decent stuff.

  5. eschoendorff says:

    I AM PISSED! i bought Craftsman tools because teh warranty and the name were there to back them up. Sears has basically given all of it’s “loyal” customers the finger! This make a buck today – who cares about tomorrow crap is dishonest and disrespectful.

  6. Old Donn says:

    Where have I heard this before! If we break up ATT, service will improve and prices will go down. Anybody out there still buy into that one? While still a good value, Craftsman hand tools aren’t what they used to be. Anybody who’s got any 30+ year old Craftsman tools will attest to this. The lowest bidder gets the contract. You don’t need an MBA from Harvard to connect the dots. If MAC is importing from China now, as are Stanley mechanic’s tools, how long before Craftsman joins the parade. I don’t think anyone at Snap-on is losing any sleep over this announcement. Harbor Freight? Maybe.

  7. Karl says:

    “One thing’s certain: if Craftsman retains their prominent Sears placement and expands to other retailers, hand tool manufacturers everywhere will be sweating this year.”

    Not Danaher. They make all the Craftsman hand tools.

  8. Lee Gibson says:

    So, why would anybody set foot in a Sears store, if not for Craftsman tools?

    I must need an MBA to comprehend the subtleties of the genius of this plan. Which started with…buying K-Mart.

    This plan is very subtle.

  9. Joe Birmingham says:

    The headline on the article implies a lot more than what other articles on the same subject are saying. Companies reorg all the time.

    The title: “Sears Holdings Corp. plans to reorganize into several companies”
    sounds nothing like….
    The Sears response “operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy”

    One is breaking up the company; the other is having a separate boss for Sears & Kmart. Just like everything else, the news media is making a big deal out of nothing.

  10. ken no more says:

    they split up these companies to kill off under performing or high maintenance departments, the divisions that do well are held onto, usually to be sold at a later date for quick cash.

    bean-counters serve this one up when they see short-sighted, ethically challenged honchos. of course, it also requires redundant layers of management, so their buddies all get taken care of, at least for a while.

    all we’re going to lose is great hand tools at a convenient place and a lifetime guarantee that oozed integrity & confidence.

  11. Josh says:

    First thing is first, Sears did not buy K-mart is was the other way around. After K-mart started taking a plunge and restructured and closed stores to free up cash they sought backing by an invester when they heard Sears was up for sale. The investers wanted to drop the K-mart name as it had become standard for low quality and the stores where run worse than Wal-mart thus the name is Sears Holding Corp.
    Now the isse at hand is they own a lot of brands clothing wise and and also hardlines like Craftsman. I doubt we will see Craftsman selling in Walmart anytiime soon and since Home Depot and Lowes have there own exclusive deals, I would bet that Craftsman will either stay a K-mart/Sears exclusive or will join on board with another hardware store, perhaps they will role out in Ace Hardware stores or Truevalue.
    The main thing they,Sears, needs to focus on is getting the Kmarts converted over to something new and nicer. All the ones near the house are in shambles and would have been unacceptable in Detroit. I have seen the ones up there and they where kept up a lot better since HQ was right there.
    I really think the should go the route of a mini hardware store in the stores run by Craftsman completely. It could be stocked with other brand tools, but mostly Craftsman. Also bring back the high quality.

  12. tj says:

    Good point Josh. The Kmart they left open here in oceanside is crap. They took other kmarts and converted to small sears stores called sears essentials – they are awesome. Huge craftsman tool selection etc. That is what they need to do.

    Also, I think Orchard Supply Hardware – OSH – (in nor cal) sells craftsman and it is a true value on steroids. Not as big as a Lowes or HD, but super convenient and better selection than an ACE.

    Given a choice, Id much rather run to an OSH or sears essentials rather than battle mall traffic when Im up to my elbows in grease and need a tool.

  13. Brau says:

    Craftsman tools are a MAJOR drawing card to get people into their stores so I don’t think for a moment Sears will sever their relationship or allow Craftsman to be sold in other stores. When you have a brand image you simply just don’t give it up. The reorganization is simply to allow the Craftsman line to respond faster to the market without every decision needing authorization from a disconnected head office whose job is to count beans. Sears is also moving more and more to internet and mail order sales; an arena where Craftsman could easily operate on their own. The last time I bought a saw, I went to Sears to buy it but they could not sell it to me there, telling me I had to order it over the phone. I laughed. The salesman handed me a phone. Times are a-changin’.

  14. Carl says:

    If Craftsman becomes a free agent, it won’t be long before they get picked up. Look at what happened with Ridgid. It is now the HD brand when anyone old enough to know that Ridge Tool Co. was a premier maker of plumbing tools.
    I find it also interesting that many think Sears bought KMart and the truth being Kmart had some positive cash flow allowing the purchase of Sears.
    There are still a few “Sears Hardware” stores in my area of PA although they now include appliances.

  15. LG in Toronto says:

    The Ridgid power tool line didn’t actually exist before it appeared at HD, so it’s not really a case of Ridgid having been “picked up”.

    Ironically, it was the result of Emerson getting together with HD to fill excess capacity AFTER they lost the Craftsman contract!

  16. ToolFreak says:

    I doubt this has anything to do with seperating Craftsman from Sears or moving the brand name to include things to sell in other stores.

    I would welcome a dedicated Management team to oversee the entire Craftsman tool line along with it’s related Craftsman Club, not to mention more focused customer service and tools of higher quality and even better innovation, with less “Made in China” crap.

    Not sure why they’d need to make a division for DieHard since it’s just a label they put on Exide batteries, though.

  17. ambush27 says:

    I saw my first craftsman tool outside of sears today. It was a 3 position garden hose sprayer, it seemed like one of the highest quality multi position sprayers I’d seen, and it was about $4 at princess auto.

    LG in Toronto; Wasn’t Ridgid Around before selling pipe tools? Or is that a different Ridgid.

  18. SGT Stone says:

    Craftsman tools has been sold in the miltiary exchange stores for several years now. The only problem was the exchange (AAFES) would not honor the warranty and made the customer go to the local Sears. Yet, that too became a problem as the nearby Sears would always make a big issue about their warranty.

  19. Teacher says:

    Sears would be nuts to let go of the Craftsman brand. Me and just about everyone I know that goes to Sears goes for two things. Tools and appliances. And applianceas aren’t bought that often.

    Our local K-mart was closed down a few years ago when the company declared bankruptcy. It was a lousy store. Many people were choosing to go to Big Lots instead of the Super K. Now the building is going to be torn down and replaced with a Home Depot so at least Lowes will have some competition for their crappy lumber.

  20. Avg DIYer says:

    Craftsman brand is the benchmark for handtools, their powertools have gotten way better over the past few years and the innovative new stuff they offer (check out their site) is out of this world, but the real worth of Craftsman is in their brand team… what other brand can hold titles like “most trusted brand” and “highest quality brand” while being tied to a format like sears? I say craftsman better pray they don’t lose their branding army or they’re in trouble.

    • Cpatton says:

      If you buy an item and it is junk do you go back and get two more of the same ? This labeling could have been true in the beginning but not now, the only thing this is good for is one time sales ,just like all the rest of this chinese made crap that is out there. The only way any of this is going to change is to get manufacturing back, and done with some pride in this country.Call it what it is “junk”

  21. This is not true. Craftsman is still an integral part of the Sears portfolio of brands. The CNN report is being taken out of context. For more information on the company’s new organizational structure, please see

    http://searsholdings.com/pubrel/pressOne.jsp?id=2008-01-22-0004740477

    In fact, Craftsman, America’s most-trusted brand has become the official tools of DIY Network, the go-to media resource for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Craftsman products (both hand and power tools as well as lawn and garden equipment) will be integrated throughout many of DIY’s most popular television programs as well as, via radio, online, print ads, direct mail, in-store and product packaging. DIY Network is seen in 50 million households and its Web site attracts more than 2.5 million unique visitors each month.

  22. Steve says:

    I am a general contractor and I make my living with tools.
    In the past several years Black and Decker (Was upon a time was a fine tool manufacture, but gave up quality for profits) JUNKED Porter Cable Tool Company. Home Depot bought out Rigid Pipe Tool Company and added all of that other B.S. I am told that Milwaukee Tool Company was bought up by Ryobi Tools. And now Craftsman Tools are headed for who knows where. If tool manufacture would worried about there quality instead of the profit machen evenly the profits would come, because they would be selling the best tools on the market.

  23. ask every Craftsmen owner who is a serious user to invest in Craftsmen whether it be a hundred dollars or much more and keep loayalty and use a store front that looks like a monument and the tools will kick sears but and you will have stockholders. Just do not bring sears tool junk.

  24. sorry i meant store front does not need to look like a monument.

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