National womenswear chain Bardot will shut 58 of its stores across the country as part of a restructure following the popular retailer’s collapse late last year, adding to the line of recent retail casualties.
Administrators at KPMG announced on Thursday they had been forced to make the “very difficult decision” as it was the only way to ensure the long-term viability of the struggling business.
“Our analysis has determined it is a necessary step in rebuilding the financial performance of the business and maximising the prospects of a successful sale or restructure,” administrator Brendan Richards said.
The move will leave just 14 of Bardot’s 72 stores trading, with the majority of closures in New South Wales and Victoria. The administrators expect the closures to be completed by March 1.
The privately-run company employs more than 800 staff but administrators did not indicate the number of predicted job losses. Product at the closing stores will be discounted to clear.
“Subject to ongoing trading performance and discussions with landlords, it is not our intention to close further stores at this point in time,” Mr Richards said.
Administrators are still hopeful for a sale of the 24-year-old retailer, saying a number of expressions of interest are being pursued.
Bardot’s closures mark the latest in a line of retail closures, with popular discount department store chain Harris Scarfe entering receivership in December, just one month after being purchased by private equity firm Allegro.
Receivers at Deloitte announced on Monday that 21 Harris Scarfe stores would shut, with 440 jobs lost, flagging the closures as necessary to ensure the company’s ongoing profitability.
Last year also saw a number of other notable retailers close their doors, including Dimmeys, Ed Harry and Karen Millen.
At the time of its collapse, Bardot chief executive Basil Artemides said the store could no longer compete in a “highly cluttered, and increasingly discount-driven market”.
Bardot’s post-Christmas announcement may also imply retail trade for the holiday period may have been lower than expected. Shopkeepers had been concerned about slow sales in the key period due to low consumer confidence and an apparent lack of stimulus from the government’s tax cuts.
Analysts at JP Morgan also noted the devastating bushfire crisis may have a further negative effect on consumers, saying customers are naturally disinclined to spend while others are struggling.
“This can see a reallocation of funds otherwise to be spent on discretionary items (e.g. eating out, soft goods and hard goods) either donated, not spent or at least trading down,” analysts said.
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