Kmart suffers financial setback with supplier

Food distributor stopped shipments to chain, local stores keep silent.

Management and employees at Muncie's Kmart are tight-lipped to the business' future, as the national retail store faces a growing financial problem.

According to the Associated Press, the food distributor Fleming Cos. said Monday it has stopped most shipments to Kmart. The beleaguered discount retailer missed its weekly payment for deliveries from Fleming Cos., whose representatives said Kmart owes $78 million.

When asked about the level of business at the Muncie Kmart store, assistant manager Nancy Miller said she could not make any comments.

Phone calls made to Kmart's media relations office had not been returned at presstime.

Kmart fired its president and named a new chairman last week, hoping to build confidence among its investors, lenders and suppliers.

Blaming disappointing holiday sales, Kmart announced this month that it barely broke even in 2001 revenue. As a result, the company's credit rating and stock plummeted.

Employees at Muncie's Kmart store, located at 4111 S. Walnut St., offered little or no information pertaining to the store's fate. They referred to the management or the corporate communications phone number.

Kmart announced plans in July 2000 to close 72 stores by fall of that year, including two Indiana outlets.

Kmart CEO Charles Conaway said two factors in the 2000 store closings were "location and suitability for expansion," according to an article at, a business Web site.

Though the status of Muncie's Kmart store, and the corporation as a whole, has not been released, local customers are well aware of the company's problems.

"I had heard that Kmart was in trouble, and that this store might shut down," said Muncie resident Jeannyce Cornett.

"I'm in here almost daily, and the only thing I've noticed is that there are fewer books in this store than there used to be."

Kmart is a near-$40 billion company with more than 2100 Kmart and Kmart SuperCenter retail outlets.


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