Poor trading and a failed funding agreement have led to the collapse of women’s fashion retailer Colette by Colette Hayman, placing 140 stores and 300 jobs at risk in the ongoing brutal retail environment.
The handbags, jewellery and fashion accessories brand was put in the hands of Deloitte administrators Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy on Friday.
It marks the fourth major retail collapse in the last few months, with fellow fashion retailers Bardot and Jeanswest raising the white flag in January. Discount department store Harris Scarfe also collapsed late last year.
Mr Strawbridge told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in addition to poor trading conditions, the business had been expecting fresh funding to replenish its capital after paying off debts. However, the funding deal fell through, forcing the owners to place the business in administration.
“There was some funding the directors thought would be made available, and when that didn’t come to fruition they found themselves needing to appoint administrators,” he said. It was too early in the process to reveal the nature of the mooted funding, he said.
Its 140-strong network of stores also contains a number of underperforming stores, which Mr Strawbridge said administrators were currently assessing potential options for.
The eponymous accessories label was founded in 2010 by businesswoman Colette Hayman, the former owner of jewellery chain Diva, who operates the company alongside her husband Mark.
Ms Hayman began the handbag retailer after selling Diva in 2007 to Brett Blundy’s Lovisa. It remained privately owned for much of its life before investment giant IFM Investors took a stake in the business in 2017.
Company records show the retailer, which is registered as the CBCH Group, is 51 per cent owned by Ms Hayman and her husband, and 49 per cent owned by IFM.
It has yearly gross sales of more than $140 million, with the company reportedly selling upwards of three million handbags per year. Most of its stores are located in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and it also has 14 stores in New Zealand.
It’s unlikely to be the last major retail collapse for the first half of the year, with analysts and experts warning the poor trading conditions, high rents and weak consumer confidence could see more prominent brands give up the ghost.
Fellow handbag and accessories retailer Oroton collapsed in 2017 after the upmarket brand failed to find buyers.
Mr Strawbridge, who is also overseeing the administration of Harris Scarfe, said conditions were worse than usual, but remained optimistic about the collapsed companies’ finding buyers.
“I don’t think we’ve seen this number of retailers who’ve struggled at the same time before,” he said. “But it would be a real shame if those businesses didn’t come out of administration.”
Colette stores will continue to trade while Deloitte seeks to either recapitalise or sell the business, with administrators confident there would be an appetite from buyers given the strong “heart” of the business.
Staff will continue to be paid by the administrators and gift cards will be honoured.
This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the original here.
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