Gideon Rathner and Matthew Sweeny of Lowe Lippmann were appointed administrators of the toy chain on Wednesday (13 March), according to a combined Notice of Appointment and First Meeting of Creditors issued by ASIC.
They will hold a first meeting of creditors on Friday, 22 March, at Lowe Lippmann’s offices in Melbourne.
Creditors will determine whether to appoint a committee of inspection, and if so, who will be on the committee.
As recently as 12 March, Build-A-Bear Workshop was recruiting for new staff, with a post on its Facebook page stating that it was looking to fill “management positions” at its stores in Macquarie Centre, Sydney, and Charlestown Square, Melbourne.
In a statement, Lowe Lippmann noted that Build-A-Bear Workshop Australia is a franchise of the global retail chain of the same name, headquartered in the US.
The administration covers the Australian operations, under the entity Build-A-Bear Workshop Pty Ltd.
The statement said that the retailer “has been working diligently on its strategic planning to combat the challenges faced”, in a comment attributed to Build-A-Bear Workshop Australia CEO Gavin Port.
“We have an incredibly dedicated team, and have established a brand that resonates with consumers of all age,” Mr Port said.
“We want to thank our entire team and our valued customers and suppliers who have been great supporters of the brand over the last 14 years.”
He added: “The company will continue to focus on bringing smiles and a unique experience to our guests.”
Reasons cited for the administration were rising operating costs — including wages and rent — and reduced shopping centre foot traffic.
Several stores have already been earmarked for closure, including:
- Logan Hyperdome, Kawana and Mt Ommaney in Queensland
- Werribee and Eastland in Victoria
- Garden City and Carousel in Western Australia
- Marion in South Australia
- Green Hills and Miranda in New South Wales
All of these stores are scheduled to close by the end of March. The remaining stores will continue to trade while a review into the retailer’s operations continues.
According to its website, Build-A-Bear Workshop has 30 stores operating across Australia, in all states as well as one in the ACT.
It comes just days after the collapse of Shoes of Prey, another specialist retailer.