Kmart slammed over China decision



Aussie business icon Dick Smith has slammed Kmart's "sad" decision to manufacture many of its products overseas.

The discount department store has come under increased pressure from customers in recent weeks with complaints of low stock and empty shelves because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Smith, who has long been a proponent of buying Australian-made products, told A Current Affair Kmart's decision to make many of its products in China wasn't a surprise but "sad".

"When I was young, something like the bed lamp - we made all our lamps, the toaster - we made all our toasters in Australia," he said.

"But the problem is our labour rates are high, we share the wealth here a lot better, so we have high minimum wages and high wages for factory workers and that means it's hard to compete with China where some of them are getting just a few dollars an hour."

Dick Smith said Kmart's decision to manufacture many of its goods overseas was 'sad'.
Dick Smith said Kmart's decision to manufacture many of its goods overseas was 'sad'.

National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union Daniel Walton told ACA that he hoped Kmart and other retailers would make changes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Maybe we should take a different approach, maybe we should use this crisis as an opportunity to say let's give some support back to our Australian manufacturers, let's get them out here making some of the things that we need, and let's get our aisles filled right across the country with decent Australian products," he said.

A Current Affair's report got a mixed reaction from viewers.
A Current Affair's report got a mixed reaction from viewers.


Mr Walton said it was possible for Australia to have a "decent manufacturing industry" without products that "end up in landfill two minutes after being used".

"We shouldn't completely be dependent on one nation to import a lot of cheap goods, and a future manufacturing industry doesn't have to rely upon cheap labour standards or dodgy working conditions in order to make good things," he said.

ACA's story on Kmart got a mixed response from viewers, many of whom pointed out that it had been common knowledge for years that the store made most of its products overseas.





Earlier this month Kmart's boss apologised for the lack of stock in stores, explaining that the store had struggled to keep up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

For weeks Kmart has faced complaints of empty shelves, with frustrated customers unable to get their hands on popular products such as exercise equipment and kitchenware.

It faced shortages when countries Kmart manufactures in halted production, with the retail chain now expecting store stock levels to return to normal by the end of July.

In an email sent to customers, Kmart retail director John Gualtieri revealed the company had halted the ordering of certain stock into stores.

"During the early stages of COVID-19, demand for much of our loved product softened; as a result, we made a decision to pause inventory shipments," he said.

A fresh delivery of nursery items are expected at the end of this month, while home office, kitchen and dining products will be back in stock by mid-July.

New furniture and accessories will arrive in store by mid to late-July, while bikes and exercise equipment is due at the end of July.

Originally published as Kmart slammed over China decision