10/09/2020 - 13:00

Former Myer chief saves Colette

10/09/2020 - 13:00


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Retailer Colette by Colette Hayman will keep only a third of its Australian and New Zealand stores open after securing a new owner.

Former Myer chief saves Colette
Colette now only has one store in Western Australia, at the Westfield Carousel shopping centre. Photo: Colette by Colette Hayman

Retailer Colette by Colette Hayman will keep only a third of its Australian and New Zealand stores open after securing a new owner.

Former Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes will become a major shareholder and the executive chairman of the CBCH group of companies, trading as Colette by Colette Hayman, while former Woolworths and Dick Smith executive John Skellern will become chief executive.

The fashion accessory chain will keep 35 retail outlets open – out of its original 138 stores across Australia and New Zealand – and will have a significantly enhanced online presence, its new owners said.

They have retained around 300 employees, as well as completed negotiations with landlords to continue trading.

The business’s annual sales had reached $140 million when it entered voluntary administration in February, having appointed Deloitte administrators Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy.

Mr Brookes said the decision to purchase Colette was made easier with Deloitte, which ensured most of the retailer's stores stayed open both during the administration period and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deloitte had closed 28 Australian and NZ stores after its appointment, including five in Western Australia.

Only one store remains in the state, at the Westfield Carousel shopping centre.

“The new Colette footprint comprises only one-third of the original stores and a fledgling online business, which with dedicated resources and focus will deliver one-third of total revenue,” Mr Brookes said in a statement yesterday.

“My decision to take the majority shareholding will be viewed as contrary to the current difficulties facing bricks-and-mortar retail.

“Owning a fashion chain is about true omnichannel retail; a strong online presence and physical stores.”

Mr Brookes said Colette would maintain a core offering of handbags and jewellery, but with a focus on its stronger performing stores that have been retained, as well as with significant online investment.

He said a plan was in place to both stabilise and build the Colette brand, while also investing in the business.

“In addition, we have a strong supplier base who will continue to support Colette including providing much needed fresh stock immediately to stores,” Mr Brookes said.

He said Mr Skellern’s retail management experience would provide a tremendous kick start to the business.

Colette was one of many retailers to enter administration this year after being faced with continued pressure from online competition and slower consumer spending.

Curious Planet, formerly known as Australian Geographic, entered voluntary administration in mid-January, leading to the closure of all 63 of its Australian stores, including six in WA.

The retailer was purchased by online bookseller Booktopia later that month.

Perth-founded Jeanswest also closed its doors in January after a shock collapse, joining department chain Harris Scarfe and women’s fashion brand Bardot, which both entered voluntary administration late last year.


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