In late November, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that it had been appointed as administrators for University Co-Operative Bookshop Limited and its subsidiary Co Info Pty, which own both the Co-op Bookshop and Curious Planet retail brands.
Stores of both brands remained open over the Christmas period as a review was undertaken and hopes that buyers could be found to take them over.
However, the firm announced in a statement on Monday (13 January) that a buyer had not been found for Curious Planet, meaning the stores would now be closed.
“Following a comprehensive sale campaign, there have been no viable offers received to date to purchase the Curious Planet stores that form part of the group,” it said.
“As a result, staff have regrettably been informed that the progressive closure of the Curious Planet store network, comprising 63 retail outlets across Australia, will take place over the next six to eight weeks.”
PwC’s Andrew Scott said that “a number of discussions” with potential buyers have been held and remain ongoing, but “no acceptable offer” has been received to date.
“While we remain open to offers from potential purchasers, we have no option at this time but to commence the orderly closure of the stores,” Mr Scott said.
“We have continued to trade the Curious Planet stores during the Christmas shopping season and intend to keep the stores open in the immediate term to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to purchase discounted items that are currently on sale.”
The accounting and advisory giant said that employee entitlements “are expected to be met”, although the timing of payouts is yet to be confirmed.
According to Mr Scott, there is better news for Co-op Bookshop stores.
“The planned closures of the Curious Planet stores do not impact the sale process for the Co-op Bookshop business, which is at an advanced stage,” he said.
The announcement that Curious Planet stores will be gradually closed came just days after 133-year-old winemaker McWilliam’s Wines was placed into administration, in what a credit rating agency described as another example of difficult trading conditions currently facing both retailers and FMCG businesses.