Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Sears’s Craftsman Said to Get Interest From Black & Decker

  • Apex Tool, Sweden’s Husqvarna also said to have explored bid
  • Sears considering options for tool business to generate cash

Sears Holdings Corp.’s sale of its Craftsman tool business has attracted bidders including Stanley Black & Decker Inc. and Hong Kong’s Techtronic Industries Co., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Other companies such as U.S.-based Apex Tool Group and Sweden’s Husqvarna AB have also explored possible offers for Craftsman, according to the people. Final bids, which may value the brand at about $2 billion, are due at the end of the month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

There’s no guarantee that the potential suitors will decide to proceed with a formal proposal, the people said. Sears climbed 6.4 percent to $12.10 in New York trading on Tuesday.

The interest “does speak to the fact that this is a venerable brand,” said Allison Ames, chief executive officer at Beanstalk, a brand-consulting firm. “There are not that many brands with the heritage and trust of a Craftsman in the home-improvement space,” she said.

“Sears just was not in a position to properly invest in it,” Ames said. “A company that is in the space can do a lot more with it.”

Kenmore, DieHard

Sears announced plans in May to consider options for its Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands as well as its Sears Home Services repair business, signaling the unprofitable retailer may again be turning to asset sales amid continued losses. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said at the time it hired Citigroup Inc. and LionTree Advisors and would “aggressively” evaluate all alternatives for the businesses.

Stanley Black & Decker, based in New Britain, Connecticut, traces its roots to 1843. It calls itself the world’s largest tools and storage company and employs more than 52,000 people in 50 countries, according to its website.

Shares of Techtronic Industries have fallen 4.4 percent in Hong Kong trading this year, giving it a market value of about $7.1 billion. The company, known as TTI, makes Dirt Devil and Hoover vacuum cleaners as well as Milwaukee power tools, Stiletto hammers and Homelite chainsaws.

Representatives for Sears, TTI, Husqvana, Apex Tool and Stanley Black & Decker declined to comment.

The brands being reviewed by Sears -- Craftsman tools, Kenmore appliances, and DieHard auto batteries -- are staples found in many American households and key assets inside the company. Yet their sales have been slipping, even after Sears hired a licensing agent in 2012 to offer them outside of Sears and Kmart stores.

With Sears stores showing little sign of a revival, CEO Edward Lampert has been considering selling off parts of the company to bring in cash. Lampert -- a hedge fund manager who’s also the retailer’s chairman and largest shareholder -- already has hived off the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores business and Lands’ End clothing brand, while also selling off store locations and moving others into a real estate investment trust.

A sale in the $2 billion range “would be a win and a loss for the company,” according to Noel Hebert, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. Proceeds would help defray debt on its KCD subsidiary, which includes the brands, and free up some money for holiday.

“The negative is that it still doesn’t fix the bigger challenges,” he said. “And now you have disposed of one of your primary assets.”

— With assistance by Jodi Xu Klein, Hanna Hoikkala, and Rachel Chang

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