Paula Deen just can't catch a break. After losing contracts with the Food Network, Caesars, Walmart, Home Depot, Smithfield Foods, and Target -- and having her activities with diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk temporarily suspended -- the usually peppy Southerner is now taking a hit from Kmart, Sears, and QVC.
UPDATE: JCPenney and Ballantine Books have also announced plans to drop deals with Deen. A rep for JCPenney said Friday that the department store planned to "discontinue selling Paula Deen-branded merchandise." And Ballantine released a statement noting that it had cancelled the publication of Deen's upcoming cookbook, Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up. It was due to come out in October.
Sears Holdings, which owns both Sears and Kmart, told TMZ on Friday, June 28, that it had "made the decision to phase out all products tied to [Deen's] brand," which include the 66-year-old chef's cookware and dishware lines. The company added, however, that it would "continue to evaluate the situation" -- so there's hope.
QVC, too, announced on Thursday, June 27, that it was reconsidering its relationship with the beleaguered former Food Network star amid her recent racial slur scandal. In a letter to customers on the company's website, QVC president and CEO Mike George attempted to clarify how the home shopping network plans to handle the situation.
"Many of you have expressed disappointment and even anger at the comments Paula has acknowledged making. Others feel equally strongly that Paula is not being treated fairly in the public debate and deserves forgiveness," he began. "Your spirited conversation reflects the complexity of the issues raised and the deep feelings surrounding them."
"We too are troubled by what Paula has acknowledged saying," he continued. "We're also troubled by the allegations against her. We deeply believe, as you do, that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."
George went on to say that he had enjoyed a "positive, long-standing relationship" with Deen, whom he described as "gracious and supportive." In part because of this, the company waited to make a move until they had talked "extensively" with the chef and her team. "Together we have considered what is best for our customers, for Paula, and for QVC," he explained. "For now, we have decided to take a pause."
That means Deen's products will be "phased out" in the next few months, he said. Additionally, Deen herself will not be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts. "We all think it's important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward," he wrote.
George stressed, however, that the "pause" is not necessarily permanent. "People deserve second chances," he said. "And we always strive to do the right thing."
Deen, for her part, addressed the situation in her own letter posted to QVC's site. "As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally," she wrote. "And so we've agreed that it's best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right. I am truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness."