For almost a century, Sears carried staple appliance brands from Whirlpool including Maytag, JennAir and KitchenAid. But amidst the retailer’s struggles to remain profitable in a tough environment, Sears has announced it is cutting ties to Whirlpool and will no longer carry the brand’s appliances.
It appears that the retailer’s decision stemmed from Whirlpool’s attempt to raise margins in an increasingly competitive appliance market environment. In a statement, Sears commented, “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.”
The decision is effective immediately and Sears reported that it would sell off the rest of its Whirlpool inventory while immediately pulling subsidiary brands including Maytag and KitchenAid from store floors. Sears will continue to sell its Kenmore brand and other popular appliance brands including GE, Bosch, Samsung and Electrolux.
These recent changes may not be enough to keep Sears from going under and the announcement comes in the last quarter of a rocky year for Sears; the company has been in the process of closing less profitable stores, including all those in Canada and has attempted to reinvigorate its e-commerce efforts through a partnership with Amazon. In a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality, Sears signed a deal with the Seattle based e-commerce giant to sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon.
Sears business dealings with Whirlpool aren’t entirely over though, the company still manufactures the Sears Kenmore line of appliances and will continue to do so according to Sears. Kenmore is attempting to remain competitive in the connected appliance space, launching a new suite of smart kitchen appliances with Amazon Alexa compatibility at the 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit.
Whirlpool, on the other hand, has spent the past several years dipping their toes into the smart kitchen space, first partnering with food platform startup Innit, then announcing voice connectivity inside their devices and after dissolving the Innit partnership, buying Yummly, one of the internet’s biggest food & recipe sites.