Target Buys Smith & Hawken

Discussion
Jan 11, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The 56-store Smith & Hawken retail store chain may have
failed as a division of The Scotts Company, but Target saw enough from the
brand’s gardening products and outdoor furniture to decide it wanted to keep
the brand alive and sell it in its own stores.

Last week, Target announced it had acquired Smith & Hawken’s
brand and other intellectual property from Scotts. The chain has been selling
Smith & Hawken decor, gardening products and outdoor furniture since 2006.
Gaining full control of the brand will allow Target to expand its offerings.

“We’re thrilled to own such an admired and iconic brand,” said Kathee Tesija,
Target’s executive vice president of merchandising.”We believe the Smith & Hawken
brand complements our existing portfolio of owned brands.”

Discussion Questions:
Did the liquidation of the Smith & Hawken retail chain damage the brand and
will that have any effect on the sale of products in Target stores or on its website?
What do you expect Target to do with the Smith & Hawken brand now that
it owns it?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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17 Comments on "Target Buys Smith & Hawken"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Smith & Hawken had a very limited bricks & mortar footprint (only 56 stores) so its brand equity is unlikely to be damaged by the store closings. Most consumers familiar with the brand know it from its catalog and online business, even though its web presence is currently “in limbo.” This is far different from the attempt to revive a brand like Linens ‘n Things, with its massive national presence.

In short, this has the potential to become a good marriage between Target and a now-exclusive brand with an upscale image. It’s also encouraging to see Target make a move consistent with its core competency of design-friendly home decor, instead of most of the recent tactical emphasis on low-priced commodities and consumables.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Most consumers do not even know that Smith & Hawken was liquidated. This is a great move for Target. It gives them a house brand with a national reputations.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 3 months ago

Target’s strategies of late
Seem prone to be testing fate.
First warehouse club promotions
Rose doubts about their notions.

Now Smith & Hawken arises.
Is there no end to surprises?
We wish Target-of-old well
But S&H won’t ring their bell?

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Target can do even more to support and grow the S&H brand now that it owns it outright. The S&H store closings won’t hurt much, if at all. I wonder if Target will continue to make the S&H brand available to the myriad of online retailers who tout it, though? (A quick Google search turned up 10 such sites on the first page of responses.) Regardless of that, look for Target to power up the promotion of S&H this spring.

Kai Clarke
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

This is a super move by Target to get a fully recognizable brand, develop it in-house, and extend it to other lines. Consumers will consider this a premium brand, and not a house branding effort, and will choose S&H brands over other lower-tier or competing brands. Target wins big on this simple acquisition!

Steve Montgomery
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

This is a good move for Target. It provides continuity for them in their home and garden lines and full control over the brand.

I agree with both Richard and Mel–the lack of a large retail footprint will mean most people will be unaware the brand has been liquidated.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Target will help the Smith & Hawken brand leapfrog in awareness by increasing the limited number of Smith & Hawken stores to the full compliment of Target brick & mortar and online capability. Target has been carrying the Smith & Hawken brand within their stores for a number of years, so they already have experience in moving this quality brand.

Based on the Simultaneous Media Usage (SIMM) survey data of over 22,000 Adults, the Target shopper (over 4,500 adults from this June survey) indexes above the overall consumer population on Home Improvement, Gardening, and Hobby/Craft projects. The Smith & Hawken line of merchandise fits Target’s shoppers’ lifestyle.

Smart play on both parties’ ends. And, the consumer will come out a winner as well, as they add this stylish and well-crafted product to their Hobby and Gardening “tool shed.”

Dave Wendland
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Target is positioning itself with an exclusive brand that still resonates with customers (and I agree with the others that most won’t realize that S&H ever liquidated). I applaud the move and expect others–not only Target–to follow during the course of 2010.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 3 months ago

Smith & Hawken is a terrific brand with a very strong following. Unfortunately, it was not a large enough following to support the costs of a 50+ store chain. Target has demonstrated the ability to maintain brand integrity on its more upscale brands.

This looks like a win/win to me.

Jonathan Sapp
Guest
Jonathan Sapp
11 years 3 months ago

Something that Target needs to address: “What is the brand?”

S&H had two levels, in their stores and at Target. The products at their stores (physical and online) were fairly high-end. The S&H branded items at Target were low-end versions of those products. The design was the same, but the items were decidedly different in quality.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
11 years 3 months ago

Good move for Target. At their best, Target delivers innovative products that provide good value for customers. Digging through the shopper demographics, garden is going and growing through the next cycle as we stay home, enjoy our family time, have fun, and live well within our communities.

For Target to grow and prosper, shoppers need a reason to believe there are better things for them there. With Target’s flair and understanding of their core consumers, this could become an important differentiation against the mass merchandisers.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
11 years 3 months ago

I agree that this appears to be a continuation of Target’s very strong private branding program. Unlike start-from-scratch brands, the S&H name carries some amount of equity, and as others have noted, the limited brick and mortar footprint will limit the impact of the liquidation.

I’d venture that a huge percentage of TGT’s customer base wasn’t even aware that S&H had liquidated.

As with any private brand, the end result will be in the product developed. I am unsure if the previous and existing S&H product was developed by Target or by S&H. It will be interesting to see if the product line continues to carry the S&H style.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

I’m impressed by Target’s press release on this: modest, brief, and to-the-point…clearly they’ve learned from the dressing-down I gave them last week. πŸ™‚

I will curious to see what they do with this: will they offer things like $85 hand-crafted spades and return it to its roots (no pun intended), or develop it along the line of “cheap-chic” with some aura of quality? Presumably the latter, which means we can expect more complaining from the SH founder(s), but at least a sensible brand development strategy…just too bad Nordstrom doesn’t have a garden dept!

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 3 months ago

This was a good move for Target. Smith & Hawken’s 56 stores were not well known, but their catalog business created strong brand recognition. Target is known for providing brand names at a fair price so this will be a very good fit.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 3 months ago

I agree that this is a good acquisition for Target, but I seriously doubt that it represents a continuation of the positioning of S&H as it once was. This most likely will be taking a high-end luxury brand name and trading it down to a mass-market customer.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 3 months ago

Target’s S&H move is not unlike Sears’ move with Lands’ End. And how is that working out? Not nearly as well as hoped, but then Sears is not the marketer anymore that Target is. The trick here is to make sure S&H improves Target’s image rather than Target diminishing the S&H cachet. Sales volume for S&H products should improve significantly, enabling Target to enjoy volume production discounts. Seems like a winner.

Brian Kelly
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Like Target’s use of Eddie Bauer, S&H provides a “label” to serve as an organizing principle for this category. But is it really Eddie Bauer? Like orange tag Levi’s of long ago….

Now is S&H a brand for Target? That is an entirely different question. Buying a label is easy. S&H’s price points were a tier or two above Target. WMT went with Better Homes and Gardens. How will Target make S&H fit? And then will Target reposition brand S&H to fit its assortment? Do they intend to take lost outdoor life category share back from BH&G at WMT?

NET NET, good start, but let’s see where this goes. We do know EB at Target is just a label, and Target could once more learn the hard lesson: Retail ain’t for sissies.

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