"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," Sears officials said in a statement released to store employees last week. The company declined to make additional comments about the end of its relationship with Whirlpool.
Whirlpool officials said the manufacturer notified Sears on May 1 that it would no longer supply its products to the department store effective Oct. 27.
"Our total sales to Sears are trending to approximately 3 percent of our global sales, and our branded business represents a very small portion of that overall business," a statement from Whirlpool said.
Whirlpool will continue to supply Kenmore-branded products to Sears, and the retailer will continue to sell its existing stock of Whirlpool products until they're all gone.
"Associates should continue to sell with confidence our Kenmore brand, a market leader in every major appliance category," the statement said. "In addition, we will continue to make available top brands that members expect from us including LG, Samsung, GE, Frigidaire, Electrolux and Bosch."
The move appears to be part of a series of big moves from Sears to find its place in a retail environment that's drastically changed since the store was founded in 1886. Sears continues to close many of its stores that are unprofitable. And the company has recently announced efforts to continue working with online retailer Amazon by selling Kenmore appliances on the site and making its smart appliances compatible with Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant.