retail | Mar 20, 2024 |
Pirch halts operations

Southern California–based luxury kitchen, bath and appliance chain Pirch halted operations in its showrooms and distribution centers today, according to a message circulated to the company internally by its chief human resources officer late Tuesday. The announcement cited “current business conditions” for the closure, stating that operations would be on hold in order for Pirch to “chart the best path forward.” Employees were instructed not to come into work until further notice, and this evening customers were sent a note informing them of a pause in “normal operations.” Pirch has not responded to Business of Home’s request for comment, and calls to the company’s showroom went unanswered.

For the company’s designer customers, the news is generating alarm and uncertainty. One Orange County designer who asked not to be named has three outstanding orders with Pirch totaling $118,000. The first order was placed back in October—far in advance, she says, because she knew brands like Thermador and Sub-Zero typically had longer lead times—and is due for delivery next week, on a timeline that Pirch previously confirmed was on track.

After reading earlier this week in a Facebook group for Southern California designers that something was going on at Pirch, she began reaching out to her sales representative for clarity. It wasn’t until this morning that she got through to her rep, who advised her to have her clients file chargebacks. “[They told me that] employees are basically thinking that they’ve all lost their jobs and that this company is about to file bankruptcy,” she says. “There are several layers: [The salespeople] are stressed for their clients, but they also don’t know what’s going on.”

Los Angeles-area designer Shaun Crha is facing a similar issue: One of his clients currently has an open order with Pirch, though they’ve only paid the $10,000 deposit on an order totaling around $40,000. Following the recommendations of other designers, Crha has advised his client to file a chargeback.

He knows of at least 20 who are in a similar situation with outstanding orders, though he expects the impact is much larger. Pirch has an extensive presence in the area, with showroom locations in Glendale, La Jolla, Rancho Mirage, Solana Beach and Mission Viejo, and a flagship in Costa Mesa.

When another Orange County–based designer and longtime Pirch customer began hearing from other designers that the brand may be in trouble, she started calling around to other nearby vendors as a backup plan for her projects, several of which have outstanding orders with Pirch, totaling around $100,000. She was stunned to find that other vendors reported much shorter lead times than Pirch had—a Sub-Zero refrigerator, for example, would take months to come from the company, while other vendors suggested they could arrange for the product to arrive within weeks.

Although she speculates that the extended timelines had something to do with the company’s inclination to schedule deliveries according to designers’ project installation dates, the lead time discrepancy wasn’t the only warning sign she noticed recently. Just last week, one of her sales reps unexpectedly told her not to come into the showroom for a meeting with her client, offering no further explanation. In the following days, she reached out to Pirch asking for the company to ship all of her current orders immediately, and heard back from the brand that a small shipment of parts and accessories (none of the finished plumbing included in the order) would be ready for delivery this Friday. Since that call, it’s been radio silence.

“We have a small team, and pretty much all of our resources have been going toward rectifying this over the past week,” she says.

Pirch has yet to release a statement to the public, and has restricted comments on its Facebook and Instagram pages. Elsewhere online, customers have taken to forums like Yelp, Google reviews and the Better Business Bureau to air grievances related to delayed or missing orders in recent weeks.

The brainchild of co-founders Jim Stuart and Jeffery Sears, Pirch debuted in 2009 with its first showroom in San Diego, where designers and everyday consumers could peruse appliance and plumbing fixtures from hundreds of luxury brands, like Kohler, Rohl and Gaggenau.

After private equity firm L Catterton became a major investor in the company, it set its sights on expansion: By May 2017, Pirch was operating 10 storefronts in major cities across the country—some of them expansive, immersive showrooms where clients could make reservations for a cooking demo to try out the ranges, or even book an appointment to test them. Just over a year later, the company made the sudden decision to pull back only to its most profitable stores in Southern California, exiting all outside markets immediately. Part of the company’s revitalization efforts was to focus on its trade clients, which comprised a majority of Pirch’s sales.

“I think it’s going to be hard to get some of us current designers to feel confident in them again, because this is pretty dire right now,” says one Orange County designer. “It’s really affecting a lot of people.”

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