Shock as denim empire crumbles

 

Another retail giant has disappeared from Australia after an "extensive" search for a buyer for G-Star Australia proved fruitless.

The renowned denim brand collapsed into administration in mid-May, leaving its 57 Australian stores in the lurch.

Ernst & Young's Justin Walsh, Stewart McCallum and Sam Freeman were appointed voluntary administrators, but sadly, the trio announced on Monday a buyer had not been found despite an "extensive marketing program".

As a result, all stores have now been closed, resulting in around 200 job losses.

"G-Star RAW is a globally recognised brand. The fact that no party was able buy the business reflects the high level on uncertainty regarding the future prospects for the retail sector in Australia," the administrators said in a statement.

When the brand first entered administration, Mr Walsh told news.com.au traditional retailers were "already facing business challenges before COVID-19", with the pandemic exacerbating those problems.

"We expect that as lockdowns are lifted and various levels of government stimulus take effect, retailers will experience an uptick, however the impact remains significant," he said at the time.

Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review reported that unusually, the brand had not experienced major debt before entering administration.

While all G-Star stores will exit Australia, the Dutch-owned company, which was founded in 1989, will continue trading in other overseas markets.

G-STAR

G-Star RAW - commonly known as G-Star - was founded by Jos van Tilburg in Amsterdam in 1989 and quickly made a name for itself across the world.

Over the years, a slew of big names have modelled for the company including Liv Tyler, while celebrities such as Pharrell Williams and Jaden Smith have collaborated with the brand.

It specialises in producing raw denim - an unwashed, untreated form of the popular material.

It now has flagship stores around the world including in New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris and London.

RETAIL WOES

Monday's 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 into receivership in December.

Just days later, McWilliam's Wines - the country's sixth-largest wine company which 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 announced plans 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.

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, while furniture, homewares and handicrafts store Ishka also collapsed in February.

PAS Group, which owns major brands including Review, Black Pepper, Yarra Trail, Designworks and JETS Swimwear and also supplies stock to Myer and other stores, also entered administration in May.

And earlier this month it was revealed Seafolly had been saved from collapse via a new owner, with the brand later buying out competitor JETS.

Originally published as Shock as denim empire crumbles


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