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Lumber Liquidators halts sales of all Chinese laminate

Flooring upstart bucks recession

Toano, Va.—Lumber Liquidators is pulling all of its Chinese-made laminate flooring, effective immediately, and has brought on a former FBI director to review its sourcing procedures amid widespread concern over the safety of its products.

The directive to pull all Chinese laminate went out on May 6 to the company’s 356 stores.

The move follows the “60 Minutes” segment that alleged the retailer sold Chinese-made laminate flooring containing levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, that exceeded California emissions standards. In addition, the company is facing possible criminal charges from the U.S. Department of Justice related to some hardwood flooring products it imported from Russia.

Lumber Liquidators is bringing on Freeh Group International Solutions, founded by Louis Freeh, the former FBI director and federal judge, to help in reviewing its sourcing and compliance policies.

Lumber Liquidators has historically sourced most of its laminate flooring from Chinese suppliers, though it has been scaling back in recent years. Since the “60 Minutes” segment aired, sales of laminate flooring, particularly those from China, have fallen amid customer concerns.

In 2014, Chinese-sourced laminate made up 13.1% of Lumber Liquidators’ overall sales. That figure fell to 12.5% during the first three months of the year and to 10.4% during the month of April, according to company reports.

In a statement, Lumber Liquidators said, “Based on the review to date, it appears that the company’s Chinese laminate flooring suppliers have sold product to the company that the suppliers have certified and labeled as compliant with California formaldehyde standards. However, we are further reviewing the underlying certification and labeling processes and practices of our suppliers. In light of this and mounting industry concerns relating to laminate products sourced from China, the company this week decided to suspend sales of all laminate flooring sourced from China pending completion of the Special Committee’s review.”