September 2, 2008

Heckuva Job, SFCA! Simplicity Bassinets Of Death Still On Sale--From The "New" Simplicity

The scale of the danger posed by Simplicity's 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 bassinets is becoming clearer: over 900,000 bassinets have been sold with a dangerous design flaw that has led to at least two strangulation deaths in the last year. And despite their claims otherwise, the newly reconstituted Simplicity, aka SFCA, Inc. is still involved.

After the CPSC issued their unusual consumer warning last week and began working with the six largest retailers to remove the bassinets from the market, reporters from the Chicago Tribune bought two of the deadly bassinets at a local Baby Depot. [The retailers involved in the recall are Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Kmart, Big Lots, Target and J.C. Penney.] The sales clerk incorrectly assured the reporters that the bassinets were not covered by the recall. This retailer-based recall was necessitated by SFCA's refusal to cooperate with a recall of products made when the company was called Simplicity For Children, or Simplicity, Inc.:

SFCA countered by saying Simplicity products are not its responsibility. "The products in question were manufactured and distributed by Simplicity Inc., a company that is no longer in business," SFCA said in a written statement. "SFCA purchased Simplicity's assets at auction after Simplicity Inc. went out of business and has no legal liability for any products distributed previously by Simplicity."

But one of the deadly bassinets the Tribune purchased Thursday carried a shipping label with the name "SFCA Inc." This seemed to contradict the written statement SFCA issued Thursday: "The CPSC product alert does not involve any product manufactured and distributed by SFCA Inc."

Asked to explain this discrepancy, SFCA spokesman Paul Nathanson would not comment directly. Instead, he wrote in an e-mail: "As far as I know none of these model numbers were manufactured and distributed by SFCA."

A commenter on Consumerist noted that Simplicity, Inc. transferred its patent for the bassinet to SFCA in April 2008, presumably as one of the assets SFCA acquired in the company's bankruptcy/reorganization. But on August 26th, the day before the CPSC issued its warning, SFCA assigned the patent to China United International Company in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Whatever the legal and marketing ramifications, the Chicago Tribune reports that even the supposedly redesigned bassinets can be assembled in a way that poses the same strangulation risk. The CPSC has subsequently issued 66 model numbers that are for sure covered by the warning, as well as an updated list of retailers that sold the bassinets--and who are co-operating with the recall. If you have one of these bassinets, don't just throw it away; return it, get a refund, and get it out of circulation.

900,000 Bassinets Targeted [chicagotribune via consumerist]
Previously: After two strangulations and corporate shrugging, CPSC orders Simplicity co-sleepers off the market

2 Comments

Here is who is behind SFCA, which sounds like it was incorporated simply to buy the remains of Simplicity.


READING, Pa.--(Business Wire)--
SFCA, Inc., an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital Partners, LLC, a
Bethesda, MD based private equity fund, has purchased substantially
all of the assets of Simplicity, Inc. in an UCC Article IX asset sale.
Simplicity, Inc. was a leading juvenile and baby furniture importer,
distributor and designer. SFCA, Inc. purchased the debt of Simplicity,
Inc. and then purchased the assets through a Foreclosure sale.

The Simplicity brand is well known for its exceptional value,
innovative design and unparalleled focus on safety. The Simplicity
company was a leading supplier of cribs, bassinettes and play yards to
mass merchants and specialty retailers.

"Working with the talented team at SFCA, Inc., we expect to build
a leader in the baby furniture industry and we're excited to work with
our retailing partners to bring the most safe and best value products
to consumers," said Ric Miller, Chairman of SFCA, Inc.

"We are thrilled to complete the purchase of the assets of
Simplicity, Inc. We believe that SFCA, Inc. can use these assets to
build a new company that will be a leader in the baby furniture
industry," said Murry N. Gunty, Managing Partner of Blackstreet
Capital. "SFCA has a strong brand and great products, both of which we
plan to build on in the future."

About Blackstreet Capital

Blackstreet Capital Partners, LLC (www.blackstreetcapital.com) is
a Bethesda, MD based private equity firm with $88 million of capital
under management. Blackstreet focuses on control buyouts of companies
that are either underperforming, in out-of-favor industries or are
undergoing some form of transition. Blackstreet seeks investments in a
range of industries, including manufacturing/distribution,
restaurants, specialty retail, business services and health care.

About SFCA, Inc.

SFCA, Inc. (www.simplicityforchildren.com) is based in Reading,
PA. Founded in 1967, SFCA designs, distributes and imports cribs, case
pieces, changing tables, toddler beds, bassinets, and play yards which
are sold through the mass and specialty retail chains. Sold under the
Simplicity brands, SFCA's products enjoy a loyal customer following
and are known for their safety, design and value.

Blackstreet Capital Partners, LLC
Media Contact:
Caroline Miller, 240-223-1330

SFCA spokesman Paul Nathanson would not comment directly. Instead, ... "As far as I know none of these model numbers were manufactured and distributed by SFCA."

Nah. They were manufactured OR distributed, but not both at once. Weasel.

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