Campeau Seeks to Reassure Suppliers
Undated (AP) _ Campeau Corp. on Wednesday blasted a major credit-rating company for reportedly taking an action that could damage business at Campeau’s department stores.
The criticism came in a letter from Campeau executive Russell S. Davis to Dun & Bradstreet Corp.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Moritz. A copy of the letter, which was dispatched in response to a New York Times article, was made public by Toronto-based Campeau.
The New York Times reported in Wednesday editions that Dun & Bradstreet had informed its clients that it no longer was advising them to ship goods to retailers owned by the Canadian retail and property company.
The newspaper quoted Dun & Bradstreet spokesman Bill Doscher as saying the company ″is no longer providing guidelines on shipments to the Campeau stores to our clients.″ He declined to elaborate, the Times said.
Calls late Wednesday seeking comment from Dun & Bradstreet weren’t immediately returned.
Goods for the peak holiday shopping season are already in Campeau’s 140 stores around the country, including among others Bloomingdale’s, Burdines, Goldsmiths’s, Jordan Marsh, Lazarus and Rich’s.
But if manufacturers hold back on further shipments of clothing, home furnishings and other items, Campeau-owned stores could be short of spring merchandise.
Previously, Dun & Bradstreet had advised manufacturers that they could sell each of Campeau’s Federated Department Stores Inc. and Allied Stores Corp. divisions as much as $250,000 worth of merchandise at wholesale cost.
But the Times said Dun & Bradstreet informed manufacturers by telephone on Tuesday that Campeau’s financial situation looked bad because it hadn’t yet received any formal bids for Bloomingdale’s, the 17-store chain that Campeau has put up for sale to generate much-needed cash.
Dun & Bradstreet also reportedly mentioned the interest payments Campeau owes early next year on its heavy debts as a reason for concern.
Davis, chief financial officer of Federated and Allied, said Dun & Bradstreet’s advisory was based on ″wholly inaccurate and misleading information - information that ... has the potential for doing considerable harm to our business.″
He said Dun & Bradstreet should have contacted Campeau to get the facts before altering its position.
Davis said Campeau suppliers so far have been very supportive despite a ″preponderance of market rumors and the uncertainty created by the spread of misinformation ...″
The actions reportedly taken by Dun & Bradstreet are ″professionally irresponsible and entirely inexcusable,″ he said.
Plans for the sale of Bloomingdale’s are on schedule, he said. Friday is the deadline by which initial bids must be submitted and Davis said Campeau has received expressions of interest from numerous parties.
″In fact, the process for the sale of Bloomingdale’s is moving along exactly on schedule,″ Davis said in the letter.
″Further, we have every reason to believe that the sale of Bloomingdale’s will be concluded satisfactorily, and within the publicly stated timeframe, which anticipates definitive action in the early part of next year,″ he said.
The head of Bloomingdale’s, Marvin S. Traub, has said he would like to lead a buyout of the chain but there hasn’t been any indication that he has secured adequate financial support for his plan.
Traub traveled to Tokyo last week and said he had ″serious, constructive conversations with parties″ that may join in a possible buyout.
Another party that has publicly disclosed an interest in Bloomingdale’s is Crown American Corp., a privately held company that is one of the country’s major shopping mall developers.