Sears suppliers accused of exploiting rumours to seek better deals

28 June 2017

Sears chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert took to the blogosphere to attack suppliers he said were trying to take advantage of the embattled US department store.

In the blog post Lampert said “while we are not asking to be spared from informed opinions about our business performance”, some vendors had been “trying to take advantage of negative rumors about Sears to make themselves a better deal – a deal that is unilaterally in their interest.

“In such a case, we will not simply roll over and be taken advantage of – we will do what’s right to protect the interests of our company and the millions of stakeholders we serve.”

The retailer is trying to revive its business as sales deteriorate in the face of competition from online retailers.

In March, Sears admitted there was “substantial doubt” about its ability to “continue as a going concern” in a statement required by regulators, sparking fears it was headed towards bankruptcy.

In the May blog Lampert said the company had been working with suppliers to try to ensure vendors’ level of credit risk was “both affordable and appropriate”.

Lampert singled out One World, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Techtronic Industries and maker of the Craftsman brand of power tools, for making unreasonable demands following a nine-year business relationship. In a later update he said the dispute had been resolved.

He said One World had threatened the “very aggressive step of filing a lawsuit against us as they seek to embarrass us in the media to force us to let them out of their contract.

“If we allowed One World to break their agreement, it would effectively reduce the flow of products they are required to deliver to Sears, harming our ability to sell tools, supply parts, and provide goods to Sears’ members and customers. We won’t allow that to happen.”

Lampert said Sears purchased more than $13bn a year in goods and services and could continue to operate with a large number of stores “as long as we receive the support of our vendors and other stakeholders”.

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