Montgomery Ward catalog to return

By GERRY HARRINGTON, United Press International

Montgomery Ward, now an online U.S. retailer, plans to revive its iconic catalog in a brand-rebuilding gambit, the president of its new parent company said.

The retailer, which once operated some 400 department stores in 43 states, also may bring back its Signature and Powr-Kraft store brands, The Swiss Colony Inc. President John Baumann told United Press International.


The catalog, published three to four times this year starting in February, is intended to "get the name back in circulation," said Baumann, whose Monroe, Wis., direct-marketing gift company bought Wards and two other brands from Chicago's Direct Marketing Services Inc. for $15.5 million Aug. 5.

The original Montgomery Ward & Co., which started as a one-page catalog list in 1872, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection at the end of 2000 and closed its remaining 250 stores in 2001.

Wards' new catalog, aimed at older shoppers and those who "might be a little more impulsive" than Wards' online shoppers, will also help the company "better understand the customer and product lines," Baumann said.

"The name still resonates with a lot of people, but the business has been sleeping for so long, it's hard to know what will resonate with customers," he said in a UPI telephone interview.


Baumann said Wards did not turn a profit in 2008. He predicted "single-digit" growth starting in 2010.

Baumann also said he hoped to expand Wards' products this year to include hardware and Christmas toys, old Wards staples.

Wards currently sells furniture, bedding, towels, rugs, curtains, clothing, luggage, fitness equipment, electronics, small appliances, housewares, jewelry, cosmetics, accessories and gift items.

He would not say when Wards might resurrect its proprietary Signature, Powr-Kraft and other house brands.

"There are a lot of fixed time and fixed costs that go into that," he said.

But the company is interested because "the sub-brands have their own credibility and give credibility to Wards as a whole," Baumann said.

This does not mean Wards will return to selling major home appliances like former rival Sears, Roebuck and Co., Baumann said.

"The golden day of selling those through a business like Montgomery Ward has probably passed," he said.

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