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Apple Falls From Sears’ Cart

HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. -Sears has decided to drop Apple’s product line from its computer offerings and has begun an orderly disposition of Macs and related merchandise that should be completed within the next four to five months.

Sears, the nation’s ninth-largest computer merchant, said both companies mutually agreed upon the move last month, and that the parting of ways was amicable.

According to Raymond Brown, Sears’ VP/general manager for consumer electronics and home office, the decision was based on both parties’ diverging business plans. “It was truly a mutually agreed-to decision based on where Apple wants to take its business model-which includes stores and dot-com-and Sears’ strategy, which is Compaq and AOL,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all agreed it would serve both companies’ best interests to wind this thing down.”

Brown stressed that there was no animosity between the partners, who culminated their decision by going out to dinner together. “Apple has exhibited the utmost level of professionalism, and more than that, they’re just good folks,” said Brown.

Sears will rely on its Compaq and Sony VAIO assortment to fill the computer ranks in Apple’s absence, and it plans to replace Mac inventory dollars with more HDTV, digital camcorders and other high-growth digital products.