After becoming a victim of the unforgiving retail environment and entering voluntary administration back in January, Colette by Colette Hayman has found a new owner, securing employment for its close to 300 employees.
Deloitte Restructuring Services partners Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy were appointed voluntary administrators over fashion accessories retailer CBCH group of companies, trading as Colette by Colette Hayman, on 31 January 2020.
They confirmed the retailer’s sale on Wednesday, noting that creditors of the group voted in favour of the transaction at their second meeting last week.
“We are very pleased to have secured the future of this business and jobs for close to 300 employees, including nearly 100 permanent roles,” Mr Marsden said.
“The sale of the business to a group of experienced retail investors represents a significant achievement in the current environment, and reflects the strength of the brand and the commitment of the group’s employees to its future.”
Mr Marsden revealed that the sale follows a robust due diligence process, undertaken in the midst of the market uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, which saw several parties submit offers.
“The new owners bring with them a significant track record in Australian and international retail and are well positioned to reinvigorate the brand across a streamlined 35-store network across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, and a strong online platform.
“It’s been a turbulent journey through the heart of COVID-19, but we have witnessed great resilience and tenacity in the Colette management team and employee base, which will be a great asset to the new owner and a new chapter for Colette by Colette Hayman.”
At the time of Colette’s demise, Andrew Spring, a partner at insolvency firm Jirsch Sutherland, opined that retail failures “aren’t new”, but that the situation is likely to persist without significant reform of how retailers manage their businesses.
“Retail is a tough environment to be successful in over the long term,” Mr Spring said.
Mr Spring’s comments came just weeks after the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) released an interim report into its Insolvency Practices Inquiry, which criticised administrators and insolvency practitioners for their fees and perceived lack of transparency, stating that “the current system appears self-defeating, as the costs of a voluntary administration often consume or exceed the assets of the company”.
Since then, the COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated problems for retailers, leaving many on the brink of collapse following both strict lockdowns and rental disputes.