Franchisor collapse hits Queensland retail chain Samsara

Queensland retail chain Samsara, which specialises in selling exotic Asian furniture, has been rocked by the collapse of four companies associated with founder and franchisor Giovanna Aryafara.

The chain has 10 stores across Australia, with the majority located in Queensland. Govanna and her husband Donald Aryafaras owned a company store in the Gold Coast suburb of Burleigh Heads, but the rest of the outlets are franchised.

On May 21, administrators were appointed to five companies associated with Giovanna Aryafara: Samsara Wholesaling Pty Ltd, Samsara Furniture And Cafe Pty Limited, Samsara Furniture and Homewares Pty Ltd, Samsara Exotic Wares and Cafe Pty Ltd and Samsara Licencing Pty Ltd.

A creditors meeting held yesterday revealed the companies had debts of $2.2 million.

But while the wholesaling business has collapsed, none of the franchisees are in administration. All are continuing to trade as usual and are keen to keep their brand running.

Phil Ciniglio, owner of the Cairns Samara store, says the franchisees are all in a reasonable position. While they did source some stock through Samara Wholesale, they have also started to buy directly from overseas suppliers in the last 12 months under the encouragement of Giovanna Aryafara.

“I’ve actually pulled the group of franchisees together so we can keep our buying power,” Ciniglio says.

“The franchisees love the brand and love the concept and we’re sad that it’s come to this. But we are all going to continue what we started.”

Administrator Gavin Morton from PKF in Brisbane is still in the process of working out what can be salvaged from the Samsara wreckage.

“The assets are really only stock and trade and some intellectual property,” he told the Gold Coast News.

“We haven’t valued that at this point because it takes some time to really sort out what that intellectual property is, then figure out what market we should go to to realise that.

“There is a number of people who have expressed interest in the intellectual property already.”
Ciniglio says one option is for the franchisees to buy the brand name, although he stresses this is only one possible outcome.

He says he has been in contact with Giovanna Aryafara who is “devastated”.

“She actually went into it with the right intent but she made some mistakes along the way – it’s a simple as that.”

“Hopefully this is just a bump in the road because we are all determined to continue.”

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