Two months after its sudden collapse, grocery retailer Aussie Farmers Direct has been salvaged from the history books by a relatively unknown start-up.
Aussie Farmers Direct had announced in March that it would immediately cease all operations, and it appeared the business had little chance of being salvaged.
“We are simply no longer able to compete against the domination of the major two supermarkets and the influx of cheap imported produce,” the company said in a statement.
However Melbourne-based start-up YourGrocer has this week announced it has acquired the Aussie Farmers Direct brand as well as its customer database, in the hopes that the merged entities will provide a stronger platform with which to take on the duopoly of supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths.
“From our founding in 2013, YourGrocer has always stood for a fairer Australian food ecosystem,” YourGrocer founder Morgan Ranieri said.
“This is a belief shared by Aussie Farmers Direct, and so bringing these two brands together only strengthens our mission to support local businesses while also supporting Aussie farmers.”
According to Mr Ranieri, Australia has the second-most concentrated supermarket industry worldwide, behind only New Zealand.
Customers of Aussie Farmers Direct will automatically feed into the YourGrocer database, from which they will be able to opt out.
Meanwhile YourGrocer said it is actively engaging with the 100 former Aussie Farmers Direct franchisees in a bid to “explore ways in which they can work together”.
The deal was brokered by administrators KordaMentha, although the sale price was not disclosed.
At the time of its collapse, Aussie Farmers Direct was supplying around 100,000 customers. Meanwhile its new owners are considerably smaller: according to its website, YourGrocer has partnerships with just 60 family-owned stores, and is heavily concentrated on the greater Melbourne area.
While the number of business insolvencies have seen a material decline in recent years, retailers in particular have struggled to remain viable, as low wages growth crimps sales just as retail rents soar.