The first person to design a company based on her own habits and style of homemaking, Martha Stewart is in talks to sell her empire. The Wall Street Journal reports that Stewart, 73, may be about to sell the publicly traded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. to Sequential Brands Group Inc., which the WSJ describes as "an acquisitive retail-licensing company."
Stewart has not commented on the rumors, but analysts are convinced it would be a smart move for the company. The group, which was once anchored by its publishing arm is now buoyed mainly by its merchandising deals with department stores like Macy's. After Stewart's five month stint in jail in 2004, and the economic downturn in 2008, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, and related publications have taken a hit. The magazines are now licensed to Meredith Corp., which means they yield almost no revenue for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Though Baking With Martha earned an Emmy and Martha Stewart's Cooking School was given a James Beard Award this year, Stewart's television empire is not what it once was. In 2012, her live talk show was canceled. According to the Journal, merchandising is the company's biggest business: it accounts "for about $11 million of [the] $17 million in sales" the company brought in during the first quarter of 2015.
Martha Stewart is currently chairman and chief creative officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. It is unclear if a sale of the company could dethrone her; the Stewart vision remains strong and plucky. Recently Stewart has gotten into something of a playful spat with upstart livestyle enthusiast/rich actress/kale obsessive Gwyneth Paltrow. The two have shared jabs in their respective media circles this past year. Most recently Paltrow seemed to poke fun at Stewart's time in the slammer when she published a recipe for a "Jailbird" cake.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is currently worth about $370 million.