Iconic Retail Brand Closes Last US Manufacturing Location Amid Troubles

By Dave Basner

June 17, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

We are living in a time when companies that were once incredibly popular are closing locations and/or declaring bankruptcy. It's been the case for Bed, Bath & Beyond, Tuesday Morning, Christmas Tree Shops, The Body Shop, Red Lobster, Family Dollar, Sears, Express, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Pizza Hut, Boston Market, TGI Fridays, Popeyes, Outback Steakhouse and so many others. The issues are not only affecting stores, but brands as well, including an iconic one: Tupperware. The once-enormous company just shut down its only U.S. manufacturing plant amid financial struggles.

Earl Tupper developed and sold his first products under the Tupperware name in 1946. His plastic containers could contain food and keep it fresh, thanks to a "burping seal" that was patented in 1949. The containers were often sold by door-to-door salespeople as well as through presentations that took place mostly at parties. Tupperware has continued with the direct-sales route but in recent years, it has been difficult to find both salespeople and customers since most people now just order food storage items online or get them at their local stores.

This has caused problems for Tupperware, which recently warned that they might no longer be able to continue with their business operations, saying there's "substantial doubt about the company's ability to continue." In a subsequent statement, they revealed plans to combat their problems by saying, "The Company is reviewing its real estate portfolio for property available for potential dispositions or sale-leaseback transactions, and is exploring right-sizing efforts, monetization of fixed assets, cash management, and marketing and channel optimization, to preserve or deliver additional liquidity,"

Living up to that statement, last week they announced plans to shut down their only plant in the U.S., which is in South Carolina. The closure results in 148 employees losing their jobs. A spokesperson for Tupperware described the move by saying, "We sold our Hemingway [South Carolina] facility last year and will be transitioning manufacturing operations by year end to our Lerma, Mexico plant, which already produces the bulk of the products for our U.S. and Canada markets."

It's not all bad for Tupperware, they also revealed, "We plan to invest in new distribution services through a new, state-of-the-art third-party logistics facility in the Midwest U.S. The transition is happening in phases throughout the remainder of the year." However, the company has delayed filing earnings reports, which is often a bad sign for finances. Their most recent earnings report happened in March, when they disclosed that their net sales were down 16% in the third quarter of 2023.

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