Iconic homewares retailer Homeart is set to be liquidated, with all 103 stores nationwide set to close and around 550 staff to lose their jobs.
The news comes after Daniel Austin Walley, Phil Carter and Mark Robinson of PPB Advisory were appointed administrators of Homeart on January 23. Rumours of a possible liquidation had circulated among staff in recent days.
SmartCompany understands the only Homeart stores still trading in Victoria are the outlets at Broadmeadows and Northland, with all other stores closing and their staff made redundant as of Wednesday.
Staff were told by store and state managers that administrators PPB Advisory had not found any buyers for the chain and have decided to close all its stores in Australia.
Along with a redundancy letter, employees were given an information sheet from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission about insolvency.
“We advise that your store has ceased to trade and the company no longer requires your services under your contract of employment. Accordingly, your employment is hereby terminated as at the date of this letter,” the redundancy letter said.
“Your payment summary will be forwarded to you at the end of the financial year.”
One of the chain’s Victorian employees, who asked not to be named, told SmartCompany yesterday was her last day with the company.
“Just before the administration our pay was late, which we realise now was probably due to a lack of funds and we were receiving emails telling us to pre-bank as much as we could during the day so that our pay would go through,” the employee says.
“The staff at my store were told all of the stores in Victoria would be gone before Easter, so Broadmeadows and Northland don’t have long left,” the employee says.
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The employee says high shopping centre rents may have contributed to the company’s financial woes.
“There have been lots of complaints about the rent [in my centre] from the GPT Group being too high,” the employee says.
“Other shops in the centre have vacated like Equip and Rubi Shoes, now Homeart. The Gloria Jeans franchise near us is rumoured that it will be bought back soon because the store isn’t performing well, the hairdressers have apparently got plans to leave the centre because the GPT Group put a competitor directly in front of their store.”
In early February, PPB Advisory closed Homeart’s 13 worst performing stores, with Walley at that point still holding out hope the administrators could find a buyer for the chain.
“While this is a very regrettable development, our priority at this time is to reshape Homeart into a sustainable retail business, which ultimately may help to protect the interests of the remaining employees. The closure of these underperforming stores is a necessary step to achieving this,” Walley said at the time.
“The remaining 100 stores will continue to operate on a business-as-usual basis whilst a review of the business continues. PPB Advisory is engaging with a number of potential purchasers to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for the business.”
The iconic homewares chain was launched as Copperart by Amy Van Roest and her husband Aart in 1978 and its first store was located on Canterbury Road in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Blackburn.
Between 1999 and 2001, the company rebranded as Homeart to indicate it has shifted from selling copper and brass ornaments to a full range of cookware, manchester, electrical goods, toys and fitness products.
Before its collapse, Homeart had total revenues of $61,430,000 according to IbisWorld, with Van Roest continuing to serve as its managing director, and its headquarters having moved to New South Wales.
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