Fashion chain Jeanswest collapses as retail sector continues to struggle

Jeanswest was founded in 1972 and employs 988 people across its stores. In 1994 it was bought by Chinese fashion retailer Glorious Sun, which then sold the company to a Hong-Kong-based family in 2017.

The company had revenue of about $100 million in the last financial year. It also operates stores in New Zealand and Hong Kong, which are not affected by the administration.

I’ve been working in the retail restructuring area for 20 years, and [retail is] about as difficult as I’ve seen it.

Administrator James Stewart

Mr Stewart also flagged pressure from online competition as a contributing factor to the company’s demise, but broadly said global retail conditions were some of the worse he had seen.

“I’ve been working in the retail restructuring area for 20 years, and [retail is] about as difficult as I’ve seen it,” he said. “There is no doubt that globally, certain categories of retail are being challenged.”

Jeanswest’s collapse marks the fourth major blow to the retail sector since the start of the year, with fellow fashion chain Bardot announcing the closure of 58 stores last week.


Similarly, video games retailer EB Games announced it would shutter 19 unprofitable stores, and Co-Op Bookshop, owner of science stores Curious Planet, said on Monday it would close 63 stores after administrators were unable to find a buyer.

Despite a resurgence of spending in November for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, investors are concerned spending in the key December period may be muted.

Analysis of credit card transactions by big four bank ANZ showed spending for the last two weeks of December was down 5 per cent as consumers remain reluctant to spend despite three interest rate cuts and a tax rebate.

Additionally, market watchers are concerned the ongoing bushfire crisis may dampen spending habits, with Noni B-owned Mosaic telling investors yesterday its sales for the first half of the financial year are down 8 per cent, largely due to the bushfires.

With a number of other collapsed retailers in the market for a buyer, including department store Harris Scarfe, Mr Stewart admits it’s a “crowded market” but remains confident the business’ 50-year history and 3 million-strong user database would see it find a buyer.

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