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Sears, Whirlpool End 101-Year Partnership

In an employee memo sent last week, Sears Holdings Corp. announced it will no longer sell Whirlpool products at its stores, ending a partnership between the two companies that has spanned more than a century, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Effective immediately, Sears will no longer carry many Whirlpool brands, including Maytag, KitchenAid and Jenn-Air. In the memo, the retailer cited pricing disputes as its reason for discontinuing the partnership.

“Whirlpool has sought to use its dominant position in the marketplace to make demands that would have prohibited us from offering Whirlpool products to our members at a reasonable price,” Sears states in the memo.

Sears plans to continue to sell Whirlpool products until its current inventory is liquidated, according to the Tribune.

In a conference call, Sears’ chief executive officer Marc Bitzer declined to elaborate on why the two companies could not come to terms. He said Sears represented approximately 3 percent of global revenue for Whirlpool.

Whirlpool has been increasing prices on its products to cover increasingly costly raw materials, renewing “concerns that it can’t keep its costs in check,” the article states. Consumers have chosen lower-end appliances, a trend which has also hurt the manufacturer’s bottom line.

The two companies first began their business partnership in 1916 when Whirlpool, then known as Upton Machine Co., sold its first washer models to Sears.

The news of the fractured partnership comes on a string of other potentially turbulent news for the retailer. Last week, Bruce R. Berkowitz, one of Sears’ biggest investors and a board member, announced his departure from the company. Earlier this month, CEO and chairman of Sears Holdings, Edward Lampert, gave the company a $100 million loan, his second loan this year.

About Todd Taber

Todd Taber
Todd is trends editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. He graduated from Indiana University where he majored in journalism and French. Throughout his career, he has aimed to highlight small businesses and their community value. He joined NRHA in 2017.

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