Is 'Martha Stewart' On The Block, Names Gersh COO


For a highly recognizable corporate brand -- which includes magazines, TV shows and licensed merchandise with billions in sales -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has remained a surprisingly small company, with a total market value of around $270 million.  

Executive chairman and principal executive officer Charles Koppelman frankly admitted to The Wall Street Journal: "Our enterprise value doesn't match the strength and power of the brand." Now the queen of all things domestic is looking to put her own house in order, financially speaking, through options which may include selling the company.

That's the message MSLO is putting out by retaining Blackstone Advisory Partners to "review and respond" to potential offers for "strategic partnerships," including a sale to another publisher or media company, private equity buy-out, or joining forces with foreign partners to boost overseas sales. Other potential high-growth areas include boosting merchandise sales through big-box retail partners.



The news that MSLO may be up for sale comes alongside the appointment of Lisa Gersh as the company's new president and COO, effective June 6. Gersh, a co-founder of Oxygen Media, who served as president and COO from 1998-2007,will eventually transition into the CEO spot as well. Thus, MSLO is finally filling the spot left vacant by the departure of Wenda Harris Millard in 2009.

In addition, Patsy Pollack was named executive vice president for MSLO's lucrative merchandising business. Pollack, who joined MSLO in 2008, had previously been responsible for overseeing the Martha Stewart Living line of home-improvement products sold at Home Depot and the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's. Before joining MSLO she was also CEO of Donna Karan Home and president of Calvin Klein Home.

Like other magazine publishers, MSLO saw ad revenues drop during the downturn, but the situation seems to have stabilized, with total publishing revenues up 11% in the first quarter to $34.7 million, on the strength of print and digital advertising along with circulation.

However, MSLO's broadcast revenues weakened, dropping 35.5% to $7.8 million, contributing to a small overall decline in the company's bottom line, from $53.2 million in the first quarter of 2010 to $52.7 million in the first quarter of 2011.

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