Lumber Liquidators boss says company has no plans to stop selling China-made laminate flooring

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The founder and chairman of Lumber Liquidators said Friday that the retailer currently has no plans to stop selling laminate flooring made in China, even as it continues to face fallout from a “60 Minutes” report that questioned the safety of such laminates.

The “60 Minutes” report earlier this month said that Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring made in China contained high levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen. The report said Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring fell short of California’s standards. The company denies that, and says it complies with all regulations for its products.

In a telephone interview with CNBC Friday, Lumber Liquidators founder and Chairman Tom Sullivan said that there are certain laminates that China is better at, adding that the company will “sell what customers want.”

With the attention the “60 Minutes” report has drawn to the China-made laminates, Sullivan said the market will determine if Lumber Liquidators continues to sell such laminates in the future.

The executive also criticized “60 Minutes,” saying that the the television program “distorted the facts” and used a test for its report that was not a “real-world” test and not part of the California Air Resources Board’s Phase 2 testing.

“60 Minutes did a great job of scaring people,” Sullivan said.

On Thursday, “60 Minutes” defended its findings, saying that it “did real world tests on the laminates.”

“The results of those tests showed very high levels of formaldehyde coming off some of the floors,” the statement said. These amounts exceeded California formaldehyde emissions health and safety standards as measured by two different tests, a spokesperson for “60 Minutes” said.

In addition, “60 Minutes” said tests it commissioned found 30 of 31 boxes of Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminates labeled as compliant with California standards were not.

Sullivan’s comments Friday on CNBC come one day after Lumber Liquidators announced that it would pay for the safety testing of laminate floors for customers to help ease concerns. The testing being offered by the company based in Toano, Virginia, is limited to customers with Chinese laminate flooring.

Shares of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. declined $4.62, or 12.8 per cent, to $31.46 in afternoon trading Friday. Its shares traded as high as $68.78 about 15 days ago.