March 9, 2012

Maclaren 'Regrets The Recent Confusion In The US Media'

No, Maclaren, I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me.

Though they won't actually talk to anyone live, or answer any questions, Kids Today, the longtime trade journal for the juvenile products industry, reports that Bevin Gove, Maclaren's director of public relations did issue a new statement.

Without mentioning the stealth bankruptcy liquidation of Maclaren USA, or even the company itself by name, Gove explained that Maclaren made "a strategic decision to take direct control of its worldwide distribution"

Maclaren has ceased working with distributors in more than 30 countries, one of which was the focus of recent media coverage in the U.S.A. Maclaren North America regrets the recent confusion in the U.S. media and remains focused on continuing to grow its business in 2012 and beyond.
Yes, I am sorry for not recognizing the complicated strategic and managerial implications of replacing a wholly owned subsidiary distributor called Maclaren USA with a wholly owned subsidiary distributor called Maclaren North America. My bad.

What are those differences again? I see three:
1) Maclaren USA owes $15 million to its corporate siblings, yet it had no revenue. Maclaren NA, presumably, gets along fine with everyone in the Maclaren corporate family.

2) Maclaren USA bought David Netto's nursery furniture business in 2009 and thus owes David Netto at least $1.1 and maybe as much as $6.1 million. Maclaren NA owns and operates David Netto's nursery furniture business but does not, apparently, owe him a dime.

3) Maclaren USA is being sued by the families of seven toddlers who had their fingers amputated or mutilated by the company's stroller hinges. Maclaren NA faces no such lawsuits, and in fact, their strollers have an industry-leading, patented, rotating folding mechanism that--anyway, you get the idea.

I think there's a fourth difference between Maclaren USA and Maclaren NA, or maybe it's 3) b): Every stroller Maclaren USA has ever sold in the US has been recalled for their finger-munching hinges. Approximately one million of these strollers are still out there, and excepting the few [thousand? tens of thousands?] that have been retrofitted with the hinge covers Maclaren USA told the CPSC it would provide, they are ready to chomp off the tips of more unsuspecting little fingers. This potential liability will linger over Maclaren [USA] forever.

Maclaren NA, on the other hand, is so unrelated, they have removed instructions for ordering the hinge covers from the main US website. Sort of. Maclaren's main global website, maclarenbaby.com, is actually owned by Maclaren USA, Inc. The exact corporate entity processing customer requests at hingecovers.maclarenbaby.com is unclear.

I have heard from people involved in customer service and warranty issues over the last year or so that Maclaren USA-era customers seem to have gotten the run around from what we now know is a completely different [sic] company, Maclaren NA. If anyone has received hinge covers in the last couple of months and still has the paperwork, I'd love to hear who sent it.

Because that's the level of difference we're dealing with here. Maclaren's owner and executive team has clearly decided that non-responsive silence punctuated by reassuring obfuscation is the best way to handle scrutiny of their multi-year brand laundering strategy. Who knows, it just might work.

Questions still remain in Maclaren USA Bankruptcy Case [kidstodayonline]

Has it been two weeks already? Previous Daddy Types coverage of Maclaren's bankruptcy: DT breaking the news of Maclaren's stealth Ch. 7 bankruptcy liquidation filing
Picking apart Maclaren's first statement, which was released to publicist-friendly blogs
Corporate scuttlebutt starts emerging, despite Maclaren's attempt to put all employees under a no-disparaging-Tweets agreement
Media coverage of the recall in Brandchannel, the NYT and WSJ and the Huffington Post
A brief corporate history of Maclaren, the folding stroller company

2 Comments

Is this the business equivalent of the douchey "I'm sorry if you were offended by my [racist/sexist/stupid/etc] joke and or statements"? (a la Rush, et al.)

to the extent that it's actually a faux-apology and not just a, "we really wish this would go away," then yes.

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