Yet another high-profile Aussie fashion brand has announced its stunning collapse.
The company behind popular jewellery and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman – the CBCH group of companies – was placed into voluntary administration late last month, it has been revealed.
Deloitte Restructuring Services partners Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy have been appointed administrators, and in a statement released this morning, Strawbridge said Australia's dire 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."
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 ($145m), 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.
Strawbridge confirmed gift cards would be honoured and employees' wages and other entitlements paid out, and that the first meeting of creditors will be held on February 12.
The Colette store network includes 37 branches in NSW, 33 in Victoria, 30 in Queensland, 15 in Western Australia, six in South Australia, three in the ACT, one in Tasmania and one in the Northern Territory as well as 14 in New Zealand.
The new decade got off to a rough start, with 161 popular Australian bricks-and-mortar stores earmarked for closure just one fortnight into the new year in what some retail analysts have dubbed Australia's "retail apocalypse".
Speaking to news.com.au last month, Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said the crisis was far from over.
"It has been a nightmare, and I think we'll see this continue to happen over the next month," he said.
"There would have been retailers out there hoping and banking on a strong Christmas, but unfortunately, I don't think that has happened.
"We're seeing this emerging trend (of retail closures) and commentators are terming it a 'retail apocalypse'."
Dr Mortimer said while it wasn't "the End of Days" for the retail industry as a whole, we were now well and truly in the grip of a "market correction" which he likened to Australia's economic downturn in the 1990s, which was famously described as "the recession we had to have".
The announcement comes hot on the heels of a slew of other high-profile Australian businesses that have folded in 2020.
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, 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. 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 hit 161 this year alone.
The latest chain to fall was German supermarket Kaufland, which pulled out of Australia before it had even begun.
Kaufland had invested millions into the expansion but made a hasty exit this year to focus on its European offerings.
This year's 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 announced the cult make-up chain's 56 Aussie stores had closed for stocktake. Administrators were appointed, and scores of stores have since collapsed.
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 about 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.
In November, it was revealed 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 restaurant chain Criniti'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.