Australia’s horror retail climate has claimed yet another scalp following the announcement that another fashion institution has collapsed.
This afternoon it was revealed that KPMG had been appointed as voluntary administrators of the Australian operations of iconic clothing retailer Jeanswest.
KPMG’s Peter Gothard and James Stewart have taken over and will oversee the process, with the business seeking to “restructure”.
The much-loved Australian retail brand opened its first store in Perth in Western Australia in 1972, and today the business employs 988 people in 146 stores across the country.
It is best known for its popular denim range as well as maternity wear and other wardrobe staples as well as the slogan “Jeanswest fits best”.
It is understood Jeanswest’s operations outside of Australia are not impacted by the administration process.
‘TOUGH CONDITIONS’ BLAMED
KPMG partner Peter Gothard said Jeanswest will “continue to operate while the administrators conduct an urgent analysis of the business”.
“The administrators will be looking at all options for the restructure or sale of this established Australian retail business and are seeking urgent expressions of interest from parties interested in acquiring or investing in the business,” he said.
“Jeanswest is an iconic Australian denim brand, well known in the leisure and casual wear market place,” KPMG’s retail restructuring practice leader James Stewart added.
“Like many other retailers, the business has been challenged by current tough market conditions and pressure from online competition.
“The administration provides an opportunity for Jeanswest to restructure so as to better respond to the challenging Australian retail market.”
The first meeting of creditors of the company will be held in Melbourne on Tuesday, January 28.
This afternoon social media was awash with comments from Aussies expressing their shock at the news, with many pointing out that it was just the latest retailer revealed to be doing it tough.
The number of businesses entering administration traditionally spikes in January as retailers assess their sales figures in the wake of the crucial Christmas peak shopping period.
However, the sheer number of collapses this year already has led some commentators to describe the unfolding situation as a “retail apocalypse”.
Experts agree many Australian retailers are suffering due to a range of factors occurring at the same time, including the soaring popularity of online shopping, the increase in huge global competitors, expensive rent, wages and other costs and changing consumer spending habits.
The shock news comes hot on the heels of a slew of other high-profile Australian businesses which have folded in the first fortnight of 2020.
It started early on January 7 when it was revealed department store Harris Scarfe was set to shut 21 stores across five states over the course of just one month after the retailer was placed in receivership in December.
Just days later, McWilliam’s Wines – the country’s sixth-largest wine company that has been run by the same family for more than 140 years – announced it had also appointed voluntary administrators.
Then it was popular video game chain EB Games’ turn, with the business confirming it was closing at least 19 stores across the country within weeks, while fashion chain Bardot is also planning to shutter 58 stores across the nation by March.
And this week, it also emerged Curious Planet – the educational retailer previously known as Australian Geographic, which is owned by parent company Co-op Bookshop – would pull 63 stores across Australia after failing to find a buyer for the brand, bringing the total confirmed number of bricks-and-mortar stores earmarked for closure to 161 this year alone.
2020s dismal first fortnight follows a horror 2019 that brought the collapse of a slew of Aussie businesses, with some international players also folding in recent months.
Last January, menswear retailer Ed Harry went into voluntary administration, and a week later, Aussie sportswear favourite Skins also revealed it was on the brink of failure after applying for bankruptcy in a Swiss court.
At the end of the month, the Napoleon Perdis beauty empire announced the cult make-up chain’s 56 Aussie stores had closed for stocktake. Administrators were appointed, and scores of stores have since collapsed.
Footwear trailblazer Shoes of Prey also met its demise in March last year along with British fashion giant Karen Millen, which in September revealed it would soon shut all Aussie stores, leaving around 80 jobs in peril.
In October, celebrity chef Shannon Bennett’s Melbourne burger chain Benny Burger was also placed into administration, followed by seven Red Rooster outlets in Queensland just days later and then Aussie activewear sensation Stylerunner, which has since been sold to Accent Group Limited.
In November, it was revealed that popular furniture and homewares company Zanui was in trouble after it abruptly entered voluntary administration, leaving angry customers in the lurch.
Later that month, Muscle Coach, a leading fitness company, was put into voluntary administration after a director received a devastating diagnosis and the company racked up debts of almost $1 million.
Then it was the famous Criniti’s restaurant chain’s turn to enter into voluntary administration, with several of the 13 sites across the country set to close for good. It was closely followed by discount legend Dimmeys.