The decision extends to both Sears’ stores and its website. The retailer will continue to sell the products until the inventory is depleted. An internal note sent to Sears stores, and shared with TWICE, said dealers will receive instruction and tools “to help you handle existing inventory and make the appropriate trades into the right Kenmore or alternative branded product.”
The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the memo, “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. Associates should continue to sell with confidence our Kenmore brand, a market leader in every major appliance category. In addition, we will continue to make available top brands that members expect from us including LG, Samsung, GE, Frigidaire, Electrolux and Bosch. As a top seller of large appliances in the United States, SHC is committed to continuing to deliver the highest level of quality and innovation in appliances.”
Despite the action, Whirlpool will continue to OEM Kenmore appliances for Sears. According to Whirlpool Corp. spokeswoman Kristine Sherman, the company’s total sales to Sears comprise about 3 percent of its global total. What’s more, “Our branded business represents a very small portion of that overall business,” she added, noting, “We continue to supply our Kenmore products to Sears.”
Sears was the No. 3 seller of major appliances in the U.S., according to TWICE’s 2017 Top 50 Major Appliance Retailers Report. While once the No. 1 seller, it has been unable to overcome increased competition from home-improvement giants Lowe’s and The Home Depot, and lost substantial volume with the 2012 spin-off of Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores (SHOS).
But unlike its former parent, SHOS is sticking with Whirlpool. “Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid appliances are an important part of our America's Appliance Experts program, which we started in 2015,” Powell told TWICE. “As part of this initiative, through second quarter this year we've expanded the presence of Whirlpool brands in over 600 of our locations. We have further expansion underway this quarter.”
Powell added that SHOS is the only national retailer with all Top 10 home appliance brands.