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Sears' Bankruptcy Highlights The Big Role It Has Played In America's Kitchens




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Kenmore appliances inside a Sears store. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer, File)

When Sears filed for bankruptcy last week, I paid my first visit to A Sears store in years. I expected it would be empty of merchandise. But I was wrong.

As soon as I walked in the door, I saw row after row of gleaming home appliances ̵

1; washers and dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers " Hand-written signs on the floor sold promised " managers specials " while a placard proclaimed, " Inside & Out Event – deals all over! "

There will be more deals in coming weeks at the 142 more Sears and KMart stores that will be closing as part of the bankruptcy filing. And court papers show just how important appliances have been in Sears 'inventory.

Sears' largest unsecured creditors include Whirlpool, which is owed $ 23.4 million, and Frigidaire, to which Sears owes $ 18.6 million. They are among more than 100,000 unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy filing.

 

Whirlpool stopped selling its own brand at Sears stores last year. But it, and Frigidaire, have been a key part of the company's business.

They make appliances that are marketed by Sears under its Kenmore brand, and they are a big reason why so many American consumers went first – or only –

In a statement last week, Whirlpool said its Sears volume was equal to less than 2 percent of its global sales.

Joe Liotine President of Whirlpool North America, said in the statement, " We will continue to provide a great array of Product offerings and services that meet consumer needs, offering strong brands that deliver innovation to consumers every day. "

In its glory days, Kenmore was one of those brands. According to Sears, almost one in three American homes contains Kenmore appliances.

My parents were among them. Selv om de rarely shopped at Sears, de alltid gikk der for at se hvad Kenmore måtte tilby, selv om de noen ganger slår opp kjøp fra en lokalforhandler.

The association between American consumers and Kenmore dates back to 1913 when the brand first appeared on a line of sewing machines. In the 1920s, that was followed by automatic laundry machines. By 1936, Kenmore had sold 1 million laundry products.

The really big breakthrough came after World War II, when returning service personnel were marrying, buying homes and beginning to populate new suburbs.

Ranges returned in 1946, after a hiatus in production during the war. And in 1949, Sears launched a " revolution " in the kitchen, by introducing appliances that came in color.

The choices included Sunshine Yellow, Malibu Coral, Aquamarine, as well as white. Dishwashers arrived in 1951, and the innovations continued throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Although home microwaves made their debut in 1967, they really took off once Kenmore added them to its lineup in 1971. They were followed by stoves with ceramic cook tops and another advancement: self-cleaning ovens.

By the 1980s, women were moving into the workforce and tastes were shifting. Kenmore introduced black appliances, eventually to be followed by the stainless steel fronts that were once chic and now seem ubiquitous in kitchens across the country.

Kenmore was a way for manufacturers to maximize production and reach, allowing some foreign manufacturers to expand in the US market, too. Along with Whirlpool and Frigidaire, Kenmore's suppliers have included LG, Electrolux, Panasonic, and Daewoo.

But even though Kenmore was reaching its peak influence, competition was growing. Home Depot was founded in 1978, originally to compete with hardware stores, eventually taking on Sears in some of the areas that it claimed.

Meanwhile, Lowe's, which opened its first store in 1946, began to pick up steam in the 1994 ,

There are now 2,200 Home Depot stores, and 2,394 Lowe's stores. By contrast, Sears will have about 560 Sears and KMart stores left, once it completes the latest round of downsizing. At one time, it had more than 3,500 of the two names.

Sears stores are not the only ones to suffer as the world of retailing has been irrevocably changed. Americans' shifting lifestyles have claimed hundreds of department stores, as I wrote this weekend in the Washington Post.

Given its heritage and sweep, it's likely that somebody will want the Kenmore burns, even if Sears itself does not last much longer.

In August, Eddie Lampert, Sears' largest shareholder and its chairman, offered to buy Kenmore for $ 400 million through his hedge fund, ESL Investments .

There had not been any action taken on the offer by the Sears board before the Chapter 11 filing. Lampert has since stepped down as CEO, although analysts believe his company is likely to take a run at some of the company's assets.

No matter what happens with his bid, Sears will continue to be a presence in kitchens, laundry rooms and basements across the country. Kenmore appliances inside a Sears store. [AP65/RickBowmerFile)filedforbankruptcylastweekIpaidmyfirstvisittoaSearsstoreinyearsIexpecteditwouldbeemptyofmerchandiseButIwaswrong

As soon as I walked in the door, I saw row after row of glossy home appliances – washers and dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves.

Hand-written signs on the sales floor promised "managers specials" while a placard proclaimed, "Inside & Out Event – deals all over!" [19659003] There will be more deals in the coming weeks at the 142 more Sears and KMart stores that will be closing as part of the bankruptcy filing. And court papers show just how important appliances have been in Sears 'inventory.

Sears' largest Unsecured creditors include Whirlpool, which is owed $ 23.4 million, and Frigidaire, to which Sea rs owes $ 18.6 million. They are among more than 100,000 unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy filing.

Whirlpool stopped selling its own brand at Sears stores last year. But it, and Frigidaire, have been a key part of the company's business.

They make appliances that are marketed by Sears under its Kenmore brand, and they are a big reason why so many American consumers went first – or only –

In a statement last week, Whirlpool said its Sears volume was equal to less than 2 percent of its global sales.

Joe Liotine President of Whirlpool North America, said in the statement, "We will continue to provide a great array of of product offerings and services that meet consumer needs, offering strong brands that deliver innovation to consumers every day. "

In his glory days, Kenmore was one of those brands. According to Sears, almost one in three American homes contains Kenmore appliances.

My parents were among them. Selv om de rarely shopped at Sears, de alltid gikk der for at se hvad Kenmore måtte tilby, selv om de noen ganger slår opp kjøp fra en lokalforhandler.

The association between American consumers and Kenmore dates back to 1913 when the brand first appeared on a line of sewing machines. In the 1920s, that was followed by automatic laundry machines. By 1936, Kenmore had sold 1 million laundry products.

The really big breakthrough came after World War II, when returning service personnel were marrying, buying homes and beginning to populate new suburbs.

Ranges returned in 1946, after a hiatus in production during the war. And in 1949, Sears launched a "revolution" in the kitchen, by introducing appliances that came in color.

The choices included Sunshine Yellow, Malibu Coral, Aquamarine, as well as white. Dishwashers arrived in 1951, and the innovations continued throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Although home microwaves made their debut in 1967, they really took off once Kenmore added them to its lineup in 1971. They were followed by stoves with ceramic cook tops and another advancement: self-cleaning ovens.

By the 1980s, women were moving into the workforce and tastes were shifting. Kenmore introduced black appliances, eventually to be followed by the stainless steel fronts that were once chic and now seem ubiquitous in kitchens across the country.

Kenmore was a way for manufacturers to maximize production and reach, allowing some foreign manufacturers to expand in the US market, too. Along with Whirlpool and Frigidaire, Kenmore's suppliers have included LG, Electrolux, Panasonic, and Daewoo.

But even though Kenmore was reaching its peak influence, competition was growing. Home Depot was founded in 1978, originally to compete with hardware stores, eventually taking on Sears in some of the areas that it claimed.

Meanwhile, Lowe's, which opened its first store in 1946, began to pick up steam in the 1994 ,

There are now 2,200 Home Depot stores, and 2,394 Lowe's stores. By contrast, Sears will have about 560 Sears and KMart stores left, once it completes the latest round of downsizing. At one time, it had more than 3,500 of the two names.

Sears stores are not the only ones to suffer as the world of retailing has been irrevocably changed. Americans' shifting lifestyles have claimed hundreds of department stores, as I wrote this weekend in the Washington Post.

Given its heritage and sweep, it's likely that somebody will want the Kenmore brand, even if Sears

In August, Eddie Lampert, Sears' largest shareholder and its chairman, offered to buy Kenmore for $ 400 million through his hedge fund, ESL Investments.

There had not been any action taken on The offer by the Sears board before the Chapter 11 filing. Lampert has since stepped down as CEO, although analysts believe his company is likely to take a run at some of the company's assets.

No matter what happens with his bid, Sears will continue to be a presence in kitchens, laundry rooms and basements across the country. Those Kenmore appliances, after all, were built by all their manufacturers to last.


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