Carrie Rengers

Dean & DeLuca cuts operations at its Wichita headquarters

As the troubled Dean & DeLuca battles negative attention over store closures amid nonpayment to vendors and attempts to restructure through what it calls “rightsizing,” its Wichita operations have not been spared.

Sources say several departments — IT, direct sales, purchasing and a call center — were cut this week.

No one with the company could be reached for comment. According to an employee who answered the phone at a Dean & Deluca store in Honolulu, Wichita is still the company’s U.S. headquarters.

A Wichita source says employees have been told not to answer questions about what’s happening.

Last fall, Dean & DeLuca moved its headquarters to 4727 S. Emporia St. near 47th and Broadway.

The company previously was in longtime space in northeast Wichita at 2526 E. 36th Circle North.

The late Leslie Rudd used to own Dean & DeLuca, and his company still owns the 36th Circle North space.

Thailand-based PACE Development bought Dean & DeLuca from Rudd in 2014.

In a July news release, PACE CEO Sorapoj Techakraisri addressed the company’s financial issues.

“To move forward, we are reconsidering our business model and in the process of rightsizing our US operation, while reducing costs to increase business efficiency. We also plan to build brand and open more franchise stores in the US and will transform the business to include more online strategies.”

According to multiple media reports, including a scathing July 10 article in the New York Times, Dean & DeLuca owes significant amounts of money to vendors.

“DEAN & DELUCA USA and PACE regret the difficulties caused to the gourmet food suppliers in the US and we are currently taking steps to rectify the situation to its normalcy quickly,” Techakraisri said in the release.

One vendor, who sued Dean & DeLuca for $86,000 and settled for half that, told the New York Times how much things have changed dealing with the company.

“Getting your product into their store was an honor, like a golden ticket,” she said, “and now it’s a nightmare.”