Martha Stewart CEO Lisa Gersh Steps Down

Media Restructuring Complete, Gersh Says

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Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said Wednesday that President-CEO Lisa Gersh is stepping down. A search for a successor is under way.

Lisa Gersh
Lisa Gersh

Ms. Gersh joined the company from Oxygen Media in June 2011, when she was named president. She added the CEO title in July.

The company said the change in leadership would help its push to focus on licensed products and that Ms. Gersh's tenure had been a success. "Our media businesses are now repositioned for the future, and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms," company founder Martha Stewart said in a statement, citing increased traffic to its websites.

"Building on this momentum," she added, "we are now increasing our capabilities in merchandising and plan to take full advantage of that opportunity for the benefit of our shareholders and all of our partners both at home and abroad."

The tenure of Ms. Gersh has been marked by setbacks for the company as well. Hallmark, once home to a highly-publicized block of Martha Stewart programming, declined to renew even "The Martha Stewart Show" after this May, leaving the face of the company with only a weekly PBS show for a TV presence. The ensuing push into web video comes well after many other craft, home and DIY brands established footholds online.

The company sold a 17% stake to JC Penney $38.5 million in a deal that called for opening Martha Stewart "mini stores" in JC Penney outlets, but Macy's soon sued, claiming that its deal gave it exclusive rights to sell certain Martha Stewart products. That litigation remains underway.

Most recently the company decided to stop publishing Everyday Food as a standalone magazine, making it a supplement to Martha Stewart Living instead, and shut down Whole Living completely, laying of 65 to 70 of its 600 employees at the same time -- all part of broader moves expected to save $45 million to $47 million per year.

"With the restructuring of the media businesses complete and a strong team leading key financial and corporate functions, the company is on solid footing and positioned for growth," Ms. Gersh said in a statement. She will continue in her post during a transition period, the company said.

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