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Lands' End CEO: the world wants middle American fashion

Lands’ End (LE) reported glum earnings for the first quarter. Sales missed expectations and fell by 9.4%. Profit slipped to $1.75 million from $10.9 million one year ago and earnings were down to a scant five cents per share from 34 cents over the same period last year.

The company has struggled to find its way since being spun off from Sears Corp (SHLD) in April 2014. Sears acquired Lands’ End for $1.9 billion in 2002.

Former Dolce & Gabbana executive Federica Marchionni took over the company in February, which required a rather abrupt relocation: from fashionable Italy to Dodgeville, Wisc., where Lands End is based.  In a statement accompanying first-quarter earnings, she wrote, “While our first quarter results reflect a challenging retail environment, I feel privileged to be leading Lands' End into the future and excited about our opportunities for growth.” She noted that the next year and a half would be a transitional period, with the company upgrading designs and development and integrating new talent.

Yahoo Finance recently spoke with Marchionni about her plans for the heartland retailer and how her high-fashion background would help a traditionally catalogue-based company like Lands’ End.

“My mission is to transform this incredible American iconic company into a meaningful global lifestyle brand,” she says, suggesting that her international expertise will come into play. “It’s very important that this is a global brand. It’s crucial today to appeal to different kinds of customers. We have a broad customer base but they’re mainly in the U.S. we want to export that experience all over the world.”

Marchionni will do this by focusing on well-designed, high-quality products. She admits that Lands’ End isn’t a fashion-forward brand and probably never will be. So she’ll focus on the classics instead of expanding the line. She also plans on attracting new customers with a focus on accessories.

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