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Chocaholics' favourite enters voluntary administration

The fondue could be over for Max Brenner in Australia, with the choccie-chain entering into voluntary administration.

It’s a bitter chapter for the Australian branch of the international business, with the dessert chain blaming rising costs and slow retail for the move, according to Fairfax Media.

The company directors appointed McGrathNicol as administrator on Sunday, but it’s reported to be business as usual for the company’s 37 stores as the review takes place.

Not even the Honey Badger could save Max Brenner

The news comes just one week after the store featured prominently in the latest season of The Bachelor, starring Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins.

Headquartered in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria, Max Brenner has 15 stores across NSW, five in Melbourne, 12 in Queensland, two in the ACT and Western Australia and on in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The Australian branch, which employs about 600 staff, is owned and run by Tom and Lilly Haikin. The husband and wife team entered the BRW Young Rich list in 2013, valued at $40 million.

However, the international business was founded as chocolate shop in Ra’anana, Israel in 1996 by Oded Brenner and Max Fichtman.

It currently has stores across the USA, Japan and Russia, in addition to Israel and Australia.

A difficult retail landscape

SumoSalad, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain and Doughnut Time have all entered voluntary administration this year, while fashion stores Oroton, Maggie T and Metalicus, and toy store, Toys R Us have also followed.

Belgian chocolate giant, Godiva is unperturbed, reportedly planning to open 20 stores in Australia over the next five years.

It opened its first restaurant in the Melbourne CBD’s Emporium shopping complex late last year.

The luxury chocolatier also launched its Australian online store in September this year, offering next day delivery.

It’s also set to open two new Victorian stores by the end of the year in Doncaster and Chadstone.

Update: ‘Employment costs’ partly to blame

In a statement to media this afternoon, a Max Brenner spokesperson said the decision to enter voluntary administration was taken after “extremely serious consideration”.

They said the process will ensure the business has the “most ideal platform” upon which to continue trading.

However, they also pointed to escalating rent and “employment costs” as partly to blame for the struggles.

“Despite previous success, the brand has struggled with exceedingly challenging commercial terms,” the spokesperson said.

“These factors have made it unattainable to continue to operate effectively under the current circumstances.”

Max Brenner called on chocoholics to “show their support” by visiting stores and enjoying a hot chocolate.

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