Economy

King of Knives retail chain with 60 stores collapses into administration after 25 years in business

Patrick Stafford /

Kitchenware chain King of Knives, which has operated for 25 years and counts 60 locations across Australia and New Zealand, has been placed in administration.

While the reasons behind the insolvency remain unclear, the retail industry remains under intense pressure. The sector is one of the biggest sources of administration and insolvency appointments – and the kitchenware market is heating up.

King of Knives was placed in administration on August 15, with BRI Ferrier appointed. Administrators Andrew Cummins and Antony Resnick were contacted by SmartCompany, but no reply was available prior to publication.

King of Knives, which continues to trade, was also contacted, but no reply was available.

The chain has an extensive history. Founded by retail veteran Ron Baskin in 1987, the business grew steadily and was sold to the ASX-listed RCG in 2004, which also owns and operates the successful Athlete’s Foot.

However, in 2007 RCG sold off the King of Knives chain for $4.5 million – discounted from the original price – back to a consortium led by the Baskin family. In a statement at the time, RCG head Ivan Hammerschlag said the business “absorbed a disproportionate amount of management time for insufficient upside”.

In the company’s report for the year ending June 2003, RCG said King of Knives had $22 million in revenue.

Baskin has an extensive amount of retail experience, and has been involved in several businesses including Sunglass World and Speciality Fashion Group.

The King of Knives chain is divided into separate entities, including the franchising group, which houses 14 locations. The business also operates stores under the Chef King brand, and has locations in New Zealand, which were significantly affected by the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.

A creditor’s meeting will take place on August 22.

While there is little information regarding the collapse, competition within the kitchenware market has increased over the past few years due to several factors, including the growth of online sales.

The popularity of cooking shows including Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules has led to a resurgence among kitchenware sales – according to IBISWorld, revenue has grown 0.8% each year across 2008-13, although growth increased after 2010.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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