Paula Deen fallout: QVC to "take a pause," Sears cuts ties

Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, June 26, 2013, in New York. AP/NBC

Updated 11:17 a.m. ET

Paula Deen's empire continues to crumble, as more of her partnerships fall apart. The latest? QVC and Sears Holdings Corp., which runs retailers Sears and Kmart.

Mike George, president and CEO of QVC, announced on the company's website Thursday that QVC will "take a pause" from the celebrity cook.

In a letter to customers, George wrote that QVC, Deen and her team have "talked extensively over the last several days, and together we have considered what is best for our customers, for Paula, and for QVC."

George explained, "For now, we have decided to take a pause. Paula won't be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months. 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."

George did leave the door open, though, pointing out, "Some of you may wonder whether this is a 'forever' decision -- whether we are simply ending our association with Paula. We don't think that's how relationships work. People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing."

For her part, Deen responded with a letter to customers of the televised home shopping network, explaining how much she's valued the relationship: "I've loved hearing from all of you over the years, with your calls and posts and letters. I've so enjoyed my close relationship with David Venable and his team, and my warm interactions with the extended QVC family. I also appreciate the caring way that QVC has interacted with me over the past week."

Deen, 66, added, "As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally. And so we've agreed that it's best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right."

And on Friday, Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, announced: "After careful consideration of all available information, we have made the decision to phase out all products tied to [Paula Deen's] brand." The retailer added that it will continue to "evaluate the situation."

The announcements comes in the midst of a major fallout following Deen's admission that she said a racial slur in the past. In the last week, Deen has lost deals with Home Depot, Caesars Entertainment, Wal-Mart,Smithfield Foods and Target. Diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk also decided to distance itself from Deen. That all came after The Food Network announced last Friday that it wouldn't be renewing Deen's contract.

Several other retailers have not announced yet whether they will cease selling Deen's products.

Despite the partnership losses, Deen's books sales have been on the rise. Deen's upcoming book, "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up," is currently ranked No. 1 on Amazon.com's bestseller list, while "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," is at No. 2.

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