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Sunbeam timeout: retailers: clock exit not alarming.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Retailers who carry Sunbeam's clocks predict little effect from the firm's exit from the category.

Sunbeam's chairman and chief executive officer, Albert Dunlap, has said the company will leave a number of businesses -- furniture, clocks, decorative bedding and most scales -- that contribute roughly $250 million of the company's $1.3 billion annual sales. Of that, Sunbeam's clock sales account for less than $35 million, according to industry sources.

"We only carry five Sunbeam clock SKUs, so the divestiture won't be devastating to any of our stores. Plus we have back-up product and anticipate a smooth changeover," said Rick Vauble, assistant clock buyer of Fred Meyer, based in Portland, Ore., a chain of more than 130 general merchandise and food stores.

"The overall impact will be less than people think, because there's very little originality in the housewares business," said David Hochberg, spokesman of mail-order company and cataloger Lillian Vernon. "Buyers can buy from competitors."

"Many clock manufacturers are biting at the bit to get into stores, so I'm sure we'll get plenty of calls to replace Sunbeam's clocks," added Vauble.

Among mass merchants and drugstores, where most clocks are sold, Pamida, Costco, Payless, Venture, Kmart and Target don't carry any Sunbeam clocks, according to the spokesperson at each store.

"The news that Sunbeam is divesting clocks simply doesn't affect us," said a spokesman from a regional discounter.

Not surprisingly, rival clock suppliers were equally nonchalant about the announcement. "Sunbeam has not been a factor in the clock business for years," according to Dennis Adams, vice president of sales of Salton Time.

"Sunbeam didn't have much placement, just a few items here and there," said Adams. "The company sold many of its clocks as promotional items with its thermometers."

Dale Pistilli, vice president of marketing for the Westclox division of General Time, said, "Some placement will be up for grabs, but how much is speculative. They were a real minor player in the clock industry."

Officials at Sunbeam were unavailable for comment.

The company is currently seeking a buyer for its clock business and has hired Chase Securities Inc. to oversee the transaction.
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Title Annotation:no more Sunbeam clocks
Author:Werner, Holly M.
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 25, 1996
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