On David Perdue, Dollar General and recalls of Chinese-made toys

His success in growing the company has been his rebuttal recently to the “outsourcing” drumbeat from the campaign of Democrat Michelle Nunn. Here’s what Perdue told Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd this week:

But Dollar General was also sourcing products from overseas, and more than 1.2 million products imported from China were yanked from shelves during his tenure. The recalls were mostly because of lead contamination but also problems such as fire hazards. Only one injury was reported from the products, a 2-year-old who suffered mouth and throat irritation from a chemical after chewing on a watch band.

Dollar General was certainly not alone. Target and Limited Too were among the retailers caught up in a series of lead contamination recalls in 2007 that made national news and sparked a congressional investigation. In 2012 alone the CPSC conducted 439 recalls of 91 million units.

In all, Dollar General went through seven recalls during Perdue’s tenure as CEO from 2003 to 2007.

Asked about them this week, Perdue said: “Well, you’ve got recalls everywhere.” He said they did not have much of an impact on the business.

Perdue expanded the company's reach into low-cost Asian markets, including opening up a Hong Kong sourcing office in 2004. But federal documents indicate Dollar General did, in fact, get most of its goods from inside the U.S.

“We directly imported approximately 9% of our purchases at cost in 2007, but many of our domestic vendors directly import their products or components of their products,” according to an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The same report also listed “enhanced domestic sourcing” as a reason why the company gave Perdue a raise in 2007 before he left. As the AJC reported in May, Perdue was paid $42 million by Dollar General in 2007 and 2008.

“As we get through the layers of David’s business career, there continues to be more and more questions,” Nunn told our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin on Wednesday. “We’re at the tail end of the campaign but I think we’re not at the tail end of the layers of David’s business careers, the layers of outsourcing and the troubling insights.”

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