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‘Fight for our lives’: 450 jobs on the line as another retailer folds

·2-min read
Pictured: Australian mall, Ishka logo. Images: Getty, Ishka
ISHKA employs 450 Australians. Images: Getty, Ishka

Australian fashion and homewares brand ISHKA has announced it is entering voluntary administration, citing a “catastrophic Christmas”.

The brand, which employs 450 Australians across 60 stores said it had “struggled” through 2019, but the last few months “tipped” the company over the edge.

“Now we are in for the fight of our lives,” ISHKA’s owner Toby Darvall said.

“We have taken the unusual step for a privately-run family company to speak out during this difficult time. We want our staff, our makers and our suppliers to know we are here to help and support them. We know the ripple effect an event like this can have on hundreds of families and communities involved in the company” Darvall said.

“After a catastrophic Christmas and summer we realised everything wasn’t right so we’ve been flat out working on solutions to protect staff, suppliers, landlords and creditors. We’ve done everything and explored every option we could to save the business and we are working very closely with our bank. This is a heartbreaking decision to make.”

ISHKA said a difficult summer and stock issues combined to force the business under.

Darvall said all staff and suppliers will be paid.

“They are our number one priority. We are now in for the fight of our lives to save ISHKA.”

Cor Cordis has been appointed administrator, and will meet with creditors this week.

For now, stores remain open with Darvall pleading customers to continue supporting the brand.

“Please help to save ISHKA,” Darvall said.

Australian retail’s summer of horror

BUMBALONG, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 03: Bushfire smoke obscures the sun on February 3, 2020 in Bumbalong, Australia. In many fire affected areas, surviving wildlife are now suffering from dehydration and near starvation, due to the widespread habitat destruction and continued drought. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Australian retail was hit by the bushfires. Image: Getty

2020 has not been kind to Australian retailers: Colette by Colette Hayman, Bardot, EB Games and Jeanswest have all entered voluntary administration in the first few weeks of the decade, pushing thousands out of work.

And according to retail expert, Brian Walker, it’s going to get worse.

Australian retail is in for a “massive adjustment” as shoppers move online and spend less in the face of low wage growth.

“It’s not the end of physical retail, but it’s the death knell for mid-market ‘shop on every corner’, vanilla, ‘it all looks the same’ retail,” he told Yahoo Finance.

He predicts one-in-four Australian businesses will either be acquired or consolidated within the coming five years.

“The piece will be whether those brands re-shape, re-create into something new and interesting, that will be the next piece.”

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