Hundreds more jobs are at risk with the collapse of yet another fashion chain as Australia’s retail bloodbath worsens.
The company behind jewellery and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman – which has 140 outlets across Australia and New Zealand – went into voluntary administration on Friday (January 31).
CBCH Australia has more than 300 staff, and additional casuals, with annual gross sales of more than $140 million.
It was founded by businesswoman Colette Hayman, the former owner of jewellery chain Diva, in 2010.
Voluntary administrator Vaughan Strawbridge of Deloitte Restructuring Service blamed the collapse on Australia’s weak retail environment.
“Our focus is on continuing to trade the business while we seek either a recapitalisation of the group or a sale of the business,” he said.
“Given the strength of the brand, we are confident we will be able to secure a future for the business and preserve the employment of as many people as possible.”
It is the latest in a string of high street brands to fall victim to tough trading conditions, with department store Harris Scarfe flagging early in January that it would cut 440 jobs and close 21 shops as part of a receivership process announced before Christmas.
In the days since, McWilliam’s, Bardot, EB Games, Jeanswest, and Bose have all gone the same way.
Billy Sung, senior marketing lecturer at Curtin Business School, said weak economic conditions were partly to blame for the spate of closures.
Economic growth last year dropped to its slowest pace since the global financial crisis, after heavily indebted Australians adjusted their spending to the “new normal” of weak wages growth.
But Dr Sung said retailers must shoulder blame, too, with many failing to give consumers a reason to shop at bricks-and-mortar outlets. The rise of online shopping had increased competition to such an extent that loyalty can no longer be bought with price, he said.
Mr Strawbridge said Colette by Colette Hayman would continue to trade and its staff would be paid by the administrators. He said he was confident there were sufficient assets to meet all employees’ entitlements.
The administrators would also continue to honour gift cards.
The Colette network includes 37 shops in NSW, 33 in Victoria and 30 in Queensland. There are also 15 outlets in Western Australia, six in South Australia, three in the ACT, one each in Tasmania and the Northern Territory and 14 in New Zealand.
The first meeting of its creditors will be on February 12.
Biggest store closures in the past 12 months
Bardot: The women’s fashion retailer announced on January 9 that it would shut 58 stores and make 530 workers redundant. CEO Basil Artemides blamed “an increasingly discount-driven market”.
Curious Planet: The science store formerly known as Australian Geographic announced on January 13 that it would close 63 outlets, after a two-month sales campaign failed to lure a buyer.
Criniti’s: The Italian restaurant chain told employees in November 2019 that it had entered voluntary administration, with several of its 13 sites on the chopping board.
Dimmeys: November 2019 also brought the demise of the discount retailer, after 166 years of trading.
Ed Harry: The menswear retailer went out of business in January 2019, closing all 87 outlets.
EB Games: The video game retailer is to shut 19 stores before the end of February.
Harris Scarfe: The retailer went into receivership before Christmas and has since announced 21 store closures and 440 redundancies.
Karen Millen: British-based fashion retailer shut all seven of its standalone outlets in September. Roughly 80 people lost their jobs.
McWilliam’s Wines: One of the country’s oldest wine families went into administration last week, after more than 143 years of trading.
Muscle Coach: The health and fitness company went into voluntary administration after racking up debts of almost $1 million. The business has since been sold.
Napoleon Perdis: Loss of market share to Jo Horgan’s Mecca Cosmetica and LVMH’s Sephora led the cosmetics brand into voluntary administration early in 2019.
Red Rooster: Roughly 100 Queenslanders lost their jobs after the fast food chain closed seven local stores in October 2019.