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‘Retail apocalypse’: number of failed Aussie retailers continue to climb as the sector claims another victim

<em>(Photos: Getty, AAP)</em>
(Photos: Getty, AAP)

Australia’s embattled retail industry has suffered another blow following yesterday’s announcement that menswear chain Ed Harry is closing down.

KPMG has been appointed administrators of the casual menswear brand following a “particularly tough” Christmas sales period for the chain and mounting pressure from decreased shopping centre footfall.

“The directors had been exploring options for funding to enable Ed Harry to continue to compete and grow, however to this point have been unsuccessful,” said Ed Harry managing director David Clark.

The menswear business is the latest victim to Australia’s ‘retail apocalypse’ that has stretched back as early as 2016.


Tough retail conditions have claimed the life of iconic Australian brands such as Metalicus, Shoes of Prey, and Roger David.

Here’s a list of brands and retailers you won’t be seeing around anymore:

Payless Shoes: Just days before Christmas in 2016, Payless Shoes announced the closure of the chain. The independent shoe retailer has already undergone voluntary administration once before, in 2013.

Topshop Australia: Topshop/Topman Australia fell into voluntary administration in May 2017 due to rising levels of debt and a too-rapid growth strategy amid high fees and international freight costs.

Gap: The US retailer closed its flagship Australian store at the end of January 2018.

Avon: Having set up shop in 1963, the cosmetics brand announced in February 2018 it would close operations in Australia and New Zealand “by the end of 2018”.

Esprit: In early May 2018, the US-founded fashion retailer announced it was closing more than 60 outlets in Australia and New Zealand.

Metalicus: A week later after Esprit, Metalicus – known for its stretch nylon body stockings – announced it was closing.

Zumbo Patisserie: Dessert extraordinaire became famous thanks to repeat appearances on reality TV show Masterchef, but his empire crumbled in late July 2018, going into voluntary administration.

Toys ‘R’ Us: The toy company announced in July 2018 that it would shut down its Australian stores. But according to court documents seen by the Wall Street Journal, it appears a revival could be on the cards.

Shoes of Prey: The made-to-order Aussie fashion start-up announced in August last year that it would halt orders.

Max Brenner: The chocolate cafe chain entered into voluntary administration on 3 October, but then looked to be saved when family investment office Tozer & Co seemed poised to buy the chain’s business license. However, the sale ultimately fell through, leaving the chain’s future uncertain.

Roger David: The troubled menswear retailer announced in November 2018 that it would shut all stores by mid-December, citing “rising fixed costs, fierce competition from online and global competitors and cautious consumer demand”.

Laura Ashley: UK-based fashion and homewares chain Laura Ashley had operated in Australia for 35 years before announcing in December 2018 that it was entering voluntary administration for the second time.

Crabtree & Evelyn: Only days ago, the luxury skincare retailer announced it was winding down its Australian operations, with all 12 Aussie stores to close by the end of January.

Samantha Wills: The Sydney-based of this eponymously named jewellery brand isn’t closing because of financial strife; rather, the designer is directing her creative energies to philanthropic pursuits. January 2019 is the brand’s final month of trading.

Ed Harry: The latest (but likely not the last) retailer to go under, menswear chain Ed Harry announced on Tuesday it was collapsing after a poor Christmas.

The good news: the ones that got away

Some Aussie retailers have been luckier, with Marcs, David Lawrence, Oroton and Doughnut Time among the lucky few business that were bought at the eleventh hour and revived.

Here are the retailers that are still trading:

Marcs and David Lawrence: The two brands went into voluntary administration in February 2017, but were rescued by Myer which purchased the two brands and their inventory a few months later in April.

Oroton: The well-known Australian luxury handbag and accessories retailer declared voluntary administration late November in 2017, but a month later was saved thanks to a takeover bid by major shareholder Caledonia Funds Management chief investment officer Will Vicars. The label has also appointed Sophie Holt – known for turning around struggling brands – as creative director.

Doughnut Time: Donut lovers were devastated when the business collapsed in March 2018, but thankfully was revived by Brisbane-based health and fitness entrepreneur Peter Andros in June.

SurfStitch: The surfwear chain entered into voluntary administration in August 2017 after a string of legal battles and class actions, but it was bought out by NZ-based online apparel and homewares business EziBuy. SurfStitch is now owned by Alceon Group, which also owns EziBuy.

Maggie T: The plus-sized womenswear retailer announced it would close in early January 2018 – but Specialty Fashion Group revealed in March it would acquire the company, which will relaunch in Miller stores and website.

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