Much-loved Australian chocolate cafe chain Max Brenner has been saved from the brink of collapse after investment house Tozer & Co announced it would acquire the license for the franchise in Australia.
The Israeli-born brand was introduced to Australian in 1999 by rich listers Tom and Lilly Haikin, who set up 37 franchised stores across the country. Earlier this month, the chain entered voluntary administration, with administrators McGrath Nicol blaming “escalating costs and tighter retail trade”.
And just yesterday, liquidators were appointed and the Israeli owners of the chain terminated the Australian license, with the sales process for the stores ending.
However, in a statement this morning, appointed liquidators BDO Australia announced a new operator had been found, with liquidator Andrew Sallway saying Tozer & Co had acquired the license from the Israeli operators.
Tozer & Co is a Queensland-based family investment office operated by brothers David and Craig Tozer. The two have a number of investments in various Australian companies in the technology and financial services space, and Craig Tozer is the current chief executive of Oporto.
In a SmartCompany profile in 2016, Craig Tozer said he’d owned businesses with his brother since the age of 21 and said the most important thing in a family business “is to be objective and honest with each other about your strengths and weaknesses”.
In a statement, David Tozer expressed his excitement to be acquiring the Max Brenner brand in Australia due to its “rich history”.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to acquire Max Brenner in Australia. In conjunction with the franchisor, we are excited by the prospect of investing, growing and developing a highly successful business,” David Tozer said in a statement.
Tozer & Co will look to finalise the investment over the next few months, with the stores trading as usual in the meantime.
More than 40 buyers came forward to express interest in the languishing chain after it initially entered administration, but the brand’s troubles had already been felt by its employees, with over 250 losing their jobs due to unprofitable stores closing their doors.
Questions still remain as to the estimated $5.8 million owed to employees, which included $2.1 million in super and $1 million in wages.