Australian shoppers will lose a quarter of all Colette stores within weeks following the handbag chain's shock collapse.
Late last month, the company behind popular jewellery and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman – the CBCH group of companies – was placed into voluntary administration, with Deloitte Restructuring Services partners Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy appointed administrators.
At the time, Strawbridge said Australia's gloomy retail climate was largely to blame for the business's failure.
"Colette By Colette Hayman has, unfortunately, been impacted by the current weak retail environment, as have many others," Strawbridge said.
"Our focus is on continuing to trade the business while we seek either a recapitalisation of the group or a sale of the business.
"Given the strength of the brand, we are confident we will be able to secure a future for the business and preserve the employment of as many people as possible."
Now, administrators have confirmed 105 stores will remain in the portfolio to be offered for sale – which means 33 Australian and New Zealand stores, or a quarter of the empire, will shut over the next three weeks.
In a statement, Strawbridge said efforts are being made to redeploy staff who are affected by stores closures.
"All staff impacted are expected to receive all their wages and entitlements in full," he said.
"The administrators have continued to trade the business since their appointment and have seen a good response from customers and staff who are supporting the brand, demonstrating the value of the business."
Strawbridge said as part of their appointment they have reviewed the Colette network, taking into consideration a number of factors before making the decision to close stores.
"This is never easy and we have regrettably had to make the decision to close 33 stores. We are working closely with the Colette management team to effect the closures quickly while seeking to redeploy staff impacted," he said.
It is understood a Colette store in Belconnen in the ACT is slated for closure, alongside branches in DFO Birkenhead, Rhodes Waterside, Warriewood, Chatswood, Hornsby and Kotara in NSW and Rundle Mall in South Australia.
In Queensland, Colette's Mackay, Queen St, Kawana, Logan, Australia Fair, Mt Ommaney, DFO Cairns, Rockhampton, Noosa and Coomera outlets will shutter as well as Ocean Keys, Hay Street (Enex), Belmont, DFO Watertown and Mandurah Forum in Western Australia.
Docklands, Moonee Ponds, Bendigo, DFO Spencer, Greensborough, Cranbourne, Mildura and Doncaster in Victoria will also close as well as stores in Albany and New Plymouth in New Zealand.
Administrators say the closure of the 33 loss-making stores will strengthen the chain's position for sale.
Initial expressions of interest due early next week.
The brand was founded by designer Colette Hayman – known as the "Queen of Handbags"- in Australia in 2010.
Hayman and her husband Mark also launched budget-friendly jewellery chain Diva before selling up back in 2007, three years before the Colette chain entered the market.
Over the years, it exploded to become Australia's biggest handbag empire, with around 180 stores across four countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Hayman's native South Africa.
Annual gross sales have soared to A$140 million ($146.2m), with the company employing around 300 Aussie staff members.
Over the years, Colette by Colette Hayman became a budget handbag and accessories icon which was renowned for its affordable and on-trend bags, clutches, jewellery, sunglasses and other accessories.
It remained privately-owned for many years before selling a minority stake to investment giant IFM Investors in 2017 for an unknown sum.
The news comes hot on the heels of a string of other recent high-profile collapses in 2020, with homewares, furniture and handicrafts chain Ishka entering voluntary administration following a horror Christmas period earlier this week.
It started early on January 7 when it was revealed department store Harris Scarfe was set to shut 21 stores across five states over the course of just one month after the retailer was placed in receivership in December.
Just days later, McWilliam's Wines – the country's sixth-largest wine company that has been run by the same family for more than 140 years – announced it had also appointed voluntary administrators.
Then it was popular video game chain EB Games' turn, with the business confirming it was closing at least 19 stores across the country within weeks, while fashion chain Bardot is also planning to shutter 58 stores across the nation by March.
In January it also emerged Curious Planet – the educational retailer previously known as Australian Geographic, which is owned by parent company Co-op Bookshop – would pull 63 stores across Australia after failing to find a buyer for the brand, while denim chain Jeanswest entered voluntary administration that month and tech giant Bose also revealed it would close all Australian stores and 119 across the globe largely as a result of the rise of online shopping.
The total confirmed number of bricks-and-mortar stores earmarked for closure has already risen to 161 this year alone.
This year German supermarket Kaufland also pulled out of Australia before it had even begun, investing millions into the expansion before making a hasty exit this year to focus on its European offerings.
And handbags and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman was also placed into voluntary administration in late January, leaving 300 jobs and 140 stores in the lurch.
2020s dismal first fortnight for retail follows a horror 2019 that brought the collapse of a slew of Aussie businesses, with some international players also folding in recent months.
Last January, menswear retailer Ed Harry went into voluntary administration, and a week later, Aussie sportswear favourite Skins also revealed it was on the brink of failure after applying for bankruptcy in a Swiss court.
At the end of the month, the Napoleon Perdis beauty empire appointed administrators although it was saved from liquidation by KUBA Investments three months later.
Footwear trailblazer Shoes of Prey also met its demise in March last year along with British fashion giant Karen Millen, which in September revealed it would soon shut all Aussie stores, leaving around 80 jobs in peril.
In October, celebrity chef Shannon Bennett's Melbourne burger chain Benny Burger was also placed into administration, followed by seven Red Rooster outlets in Queensland just days later and then Aussie activewear sensation Stylerunner, which has since been sold to Accent Group Limited.
In November, it was revealed that popular furniture and homewares company Zanui was in trouble after it abruptly entered voluntary administration, leaving angry customers in the lurch.
Later that month, Muscle Coach, a leading fitness company, was put into voluntary administration after a director received a devastating diagnosis and the company racked up debts of almost A$1m.
Then it was the famous Criniti's restaurant chain's turn to enter into voluntary administration, with several of the 13 sites across the country set to close for good. It was closely followed by discount legend Dimmeys.
Leading Australian fashion designer Alex Perry closed his only bricks and mortar store in Sydney's Strand Arcade in February, announcing he will focus solely on online.