A string of Melbourne bars owned by hospitality entrepreneur Maz Salt have closed for good, as the businesses behind them enter liquidation.
The liquidations will see the closure of four of Salt’s Melbourne bars: Globe Alley, Radar Nightclub, Park Melbourne and The B.East of Brunswick St.
On November 8, five businesses that jointly operate the bars — Cast Of Falcons, Supernaut Melbourne, Captain Obvious, Autokrator, and Globe Alley — appointed liquidators.
Salt’s other venues, Ferdydurke, shipping container bar Section 8 and the other The B.East venue on Lygon Street, will continue to operate.
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Con Kokkinos, a partner at Worrells in Melbourne, has been appointed as liquidator for the five businesses.
The companies will be wound up, with the liquidator expected to seek buyers for their assets.
While the amount of debts owed by the businesses has not been revealed, a report from The Australian suggests that all employee entitlements have been paid out, although Salt himself is still owed a considerable amount.
The largest creditor is reportedly the Australian Taxation Office.
The COVID-19 challenge drags on
An Instagram post from The B.East of Brunswick St confirmed the venue would be closing its doors, blaming Melbourne’s six lockdowns and “landlords conspiring against us”, while thanking staff and patrons for their support throughout the crisis.
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Last year, Salt said his businesses were repeatedly turned down for government assistance with no explanation.
“It’s the uncertainty that’s the killer,” he said at the time.
The closures come as financial support for small businesses starts to tail off. While bars and restaurants are now able to reopen to customers, many are saddled with debts or facing ongoing disputes with landlords.
At the same time, staff shortages are preventing some businesses from being able to take full advantage of the new freedoms.
Although business insolvencies are actually down 40% compared to pre-COVID levels, largely due to government stimulus and support from banks and landlords, we may well see an uptick in the New Year.
And it’s not only hospitality businesses that are suffering. Last week, Melbourne tech hub and co-working space YBF was forced to call in liquidators, while women-only ridesharing startup Shebah has also entered administration.
In retail, iconic bag brand Crumpler has been saved from administration by one of the original founders and his daughter.
Speaking to SmartCompany last week, Robert Smith of McGrathNicol, liquidator for YBF, said businesses that are heavily exposed to city — and particularly CBD — activity, are struggling to deal with the costs of lockdowns.
“As government assistance withdraws, whilst the CBD is heavily underutilised we anticipate more financial pressure on businesses,” he said.
SmartCompany has reached out to Maz Salt and Con Kokkinos for comment.