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Singer files for bankruptcy

CColehour_ | Posted in The Archives on

I heard on the National Public Radio this morning that Singer has filed for bankruptcy. They’re not going out of business, but will restructure, etc. This is a relief for me, because I just bought an older Singer at a garage sale, and I might still want to buy accessories from them.

The news story said there used to be Singer sewing machine in almost every home in the US, because sewing was a necessary part of life. Since then, sewing has become a “high end hobby”, and fewer people sew. Those people want a nicer sewing machine, and Singer gained a reputation for having machines of a lesser quality, due to, (I think) an actual lessening of the quality of their machines. However, Singer still sold extremely well in parts of Asia, where sewing is still a part of daily life. This kept them going. When the Asian financial crisis hit, this hurt their business, combined with the fact that they loaned or invested a bunch of money to a Russian company, and did not get it back. Hence, bankruptcy.

I’m sure I left parts of this story out, since I heard it several hours ago, but I think it’s an interesting comment on the state of sewing today, and how much it’s changed over the years.


  1. Sarah_Kayla | | #1

    I have found recent vintage singers to be unreliable cranky
    and genreally unpleasant to use. I think that Singer has a
    valuable place in sewing history and in the emacipation of
    women. Unfortunately they have taken advantage of that good
    will by producing shoddy machines. I hope they take this
    moment as a wakeup call

    1. CColehour_ | | #2

      *I hope my new vintage Singer is usable (however, it only cost $30). I'm in the dark ages as far as sewing machines go, my other one is a 30 year old Kenmore, which is great, but it essentially sews forward, backwards, and zig-zag. While I've been able to do quite a bit with it, the Singer has a free arm and sews three stitch zig-zag! Woohoo!I have a serger, and at some point in the future, will buy a newer machine, but for now I'm anxious to try the Singer.

      1. Lisa | | #3

        *Well, I have to agree with Singer having gone down hill lately, so I got an old one - circa 1905!! It is still a leather-belt driven treadle foot, not "electricized" like some I have seen. I LOVE IT!!! It came in the original cabinet, with all the original attachements AND manual. I don't really use the three different sizes of rufflers (me, in ruffles? LOL), but I have expiremented and in general, the gadgets are lots of fun.I suppose that I wouldn't want to use it for sewing as a business, but I don't consider myself a hobbiest either. While I don't sew as much as I used to (small child, job, yada yada whine), I do make many of my own clothes. I started sewing seriously when I started making historic clothing and never really stopped. I haven't found that I need a fancier machine because I LIKE handwork and so embroidery etc is unneccessary for me in a machine. I have sewn fine silk and homemade felted wool on this machine, and it works great! I have found it is not any slower than an electric, and I find it is easier to control.Sometimes, its best not to "improve" on something that works.Keeping the faith, Lisa

        1. Darcy | | #4

          *I thought Singer was bought out by a Japanese company?

          1. TJ | | #5

            *Checking the business news on the web (it amuses me to find out that Singer's ticker symbol on the stock exchange is SEW), I find the following from AP for Sept. 13: The Singer Co. NV, the world's largest manufacturer of sewing machines, is seeking bankruptcy protection while it tries to reorganize its troubled operations.In a statement late Sunday, Singer blamed a decline in the international sewing market and last week's bankruptcy filing by a Germany subsidiary. Singer's retail and production businesses will continue operating without interruption while it develops a reorganization plan.The Chapter 11 filing, made in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York late Sunday night, include the parent company, most of the company's U.S. subsidiaries and the holding companies for Singer's foreign businesses.Hong Kong-based Singer said the filing was precipitated by a lack of liquidity, caused primarily by a recent decline in the global sewing market and the bankruptcy filing on Sept. 6 by Germany sewing manufacturer Pfaff AG. Singer, whichacquired Pfaff last year, is responsible for a portion of Pfaff's debt and is also a creditor of Pfaff.Singer president and chief executive Stephen H. Goodman also cited the global financial turmoil that has ravaged emergingmarkets over the past two years, causing an expansion program in countries such as Brazil, China and Vietnam to be ``largely unsuccessful.''Singer also has made a $50 million deposit to acquire some Russian assets, a large portion of which has yet to be recovered.Singer said it has reached an agreement with an unidentified major lender for financing during the company's restructuring. It will be filed with the court this week for interim approval.Last week, Ontario-based Semi-Tech Corp., which owns about 50 percent of Singer's common stock, filed for Chapter 11protection along with two of its subsidiaries. Singer said its own filing this week was unrelated, however.Singer is the world's leading manufacturer and distributor of consumer sewing machines, with 1,500 retail outlets, 58,000 independent dealers and a sales force of 18,000 in 150 countries. It also makes consumer electronic equipment, furniture and home appliances. Excluding Pfaff, Singer lost $207 million in 1998 on sales of about $1.26 billion.

          2. Ginna_Somers | | #6

            *Interesting that Pfaff is also in bankruptcy.

          3. Anastasi_ | | #7

            *I have a couple of older Singer machines with the discs for different stitches. They worked well for everything except knits. However, when shopping for a new machine, my spouse did his research and found that the European brands have better quality. I've been constantly using my Viking for about 7 years without needing any maintenance; also, I can work with knits without needing a serger.

          4. CColehour_ | | #8

            *Sigh. My one year old Serger is a Pfaff. My really old Kenmore is looking pretty good right now. Although Sears is not in good shape as a company either. I'll do a lot of research before I buy a new machine.

          5. Kelley_Dean-Crowley | | #9

            *I have to say that it was coming especically in a country where the small but excellent fabric stores are being gobbled up by a company that shall remain nameless but seems to think that stuffing the fabric stores with crafts, seasonal crap and other non-sewing items until the floor space for fabrics is less than 25% of the store is a GOOD business decision. And that 25% is getting cheaper and the selection smaller. I don't know about you all, but I don't buy the denim....I buy the spectacular silks and other fabrics and colors that are unavailable in ready to wear. And don't even get me started on the ready-to-wear, although I applaud Levi Strauss's recent custom-jeans effort as this is obviously a ploy to gather market data---read "measurements of the modern woman" here!All I can say is that we should all ensure that our children or nieces or neighbors are taught to sew. Some of them will have a fire start. The rest will know how to stitch a straight line and thread a needle, the exact thing that people tell me they CAN'T do.And we can also apply pressure to the fabric stores to carry more fabric (ooh did I just say that?!) radical concept that it is!

          6. Marion_E._Ruppel | | #10

            *As an old Singer Machine enthusiast I am dismayed that this is happening. I have several of their machines. Treadles, 15's 90's 127's 221, 237, 301, 401's 457's 920, and 9900. Did you kno someone is making a knockoff of their Featherweight 221 and selling it for $400. I saw it at Scranton Fabric. I had sent them letters several times asking them to make their machines like they used to, not all plastic. They did reply but I guess they just didn't care.

          7. Carla | | #11

            *What kind of serger do you have? I would like to have one for play. I work full time and don't have oodles of hours to devote to sewing like I used to. I'm just starting to shop for one. Is Simplicity by Singer? That may make me nervous. I've also looked at high end Pfaff, Babylock also. I appreciate your help.

          8. Lucinda_Farwell | | #12

            *b Skirt Pattern That is Gathered at the Bottom - Floor LengthI am searching for a pattern that makes a full length dressy skirt that is gathered and sewn to the lining. The skirt fabric is sewn to the lining inside one inch, so it has a puffy look to the hem. I know, it isn't clear, but I LOVE this pattern. any help out there? Thanks, Lucinda

          9. Liz_Barefoot | | #13

            *Before you believe that Singer is trash machines, I want you to look at the last two machines they brought out. The SINGER XL-100 and the XL-1000. These were actually made by JUKI, with the Singer logo and backup. Both of them are totally terrific machines. Else I would not have gone in debt to my eye-balls buying them (both). The stitch quality is so outstanding, there is not a machine that does better. Because I am a machine maniac, I should know! Currently, in my (new- YEAAA) sewing room, I have a Bernina 1230, Janomi 9000, Pfaff 1475, a vintage 1958 like brand new Pfaff. They all stitch good. Yet, if I am experiencing a problem of any kind on any of these... I go to the Singer XL-1000. It will handle it with perfect stitches. I will admit that from about 1960 to the XL-100, their machines were not worth taking room in a sewing arena.Not only were the machines crappy, but that is exactly the way they treated their dealers. Treated them horribly. Began selling their machines through Sears, Sams, Traveling shows (those kind that say they are School Over Runs? baloney!)... yet expected their dealers to stand by the warranty. You have to get to know a dealer, to know what shoddy treatment they were given.I am sure that Singer will be back on their feet. And hopefully with better business practices than in the past!

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