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Some Housewares Suppliers Cautious With Sears, Others Stop Shipping

Some housewares suppliers continue to ship Sears and Kmart, while others have ceased sending products to the troubled retailers, vendors across multiple product categories told HomeWorldBusiness.com.

As product vendors left the annual International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, they were greeted with news that officials with Sears Holdings stated in the retailer’s annual report that they have “substantial doubt” over the company’s ability to continue long term.

Jason Hollar, Sears Holdings’ chief financial officer, sought to clarify those statements in a blog post on the company’s website. He said that the retailer remains focused on executing its transformation plan and will continue to take actions to help ensure its competitiveness and ability to continue to meet financial obligations.

“To clarify, the comments from our annual report quoted by the media are in line with regulatory standards that require management to assess and disclose potential risks the company could face within one year from the reported financial statements,” he said.

In addition, Sears Holdings also sought to allay concerns among its vendors. In a letter from Sears Holdings to vendors, which was obtained by HomeWorldBusiness.com, officials with the retailer said the company remains focused on executing its “transformation plan” and will continue to take action to help ensure its competitiveness and meet financial obligations.

While the statements in the annual report created headlines, housewares suppliers have been closely watching Sears Holdings— the parent company of Sears and Kmart— for quite sometime.

In fact, several suppliers told HomeWorldBusiness.com that they have not done business with either retailer over a lengthy period of time, with one vendor noting that decision was made in anticipation of Sears Holdings’ current position.

Steve Greenspon, CEO of Honey-Can-Do, said his company has stopped shipping Kmart.com and Sears.com following news of Sears Holdings’ statements in its annual report.

“We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he said. “It’s fairly unusual for a company to make a public statement like that because they are well aware of how it’s going to be taken in the industry.”

One kitchenware supplier, however, said the company continues to ship products to Sears, but has arranged “very special financial circumstances” in order to keep doing business with the retailer.

“We continue to keep very close tabs on their credit and will continue to do so,” an official with the supplier said.

Another kitchenware vendor noted they have put a ceiling on the size of orders being shipped to Sears, but added that the retailer continues to pay invoices.

A home décor supplier that had been shipping Kmart said the company recently decided to stop shipping product as a result of the retailer’s financial struggles.

News from the housewares industry comes the same day Reuters reported that product suppliers in a host of categories ranging from textiles to sporting goods and apparel have either cut back shipments or have altogether stopped shipping Sears and Kmart.