Finance

The 21 most notable collapses of 2015

Eloise Keating /

 

The year 2015 was another plagued by business collapses throughout its span, with some well-known brands falling into external administration just weeks out from Christmas.

But some of the businesses to collapse this year stand out as more notable than others due to the longevity of the business, the impact on employees or for what the collapse said about the challenges facing a particular industry.

Here are 21 of the most notable collapses in 2015.

 

1. Ernest Hillier

Century-old Australian chocolatier Ernest Hillier collapsed into voluntary administration in mid-January, after previously being sold by former owners the Piedimonte family to Re:Capital and local private investors.

Ernest Hillier was Australia’s first chocolate manufacturer and has been in business for 101 years. The company produced chocolate under the Hillier’s and Newman’s brands and turned over between $15 million and $25 million annually at the time of its collapse.

 

2. Betta Foods

Just days after the collapse of Ernest Hillier, sister company Betta Foods also fell into voluntary administration.

Betta Foods was home to liquorice brand Capricorn and also supplied ice cream cones, marshmallows and jelly lollies to major retailers including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. It was turning over $40 million annually and employing 180 staff at the time of its collapse.

Like Ernest Hillier, the company had been purchased by Re:Capital in 2014.

 

3. Paid International

Also in January, former Smart50 finalist Paid International entered voluntary administration, just months after the online finance provider agreed to refund $1.128 million to customers who were charged excessive loan fees.

Paid International was founded in 2009 and grew rapidly, turning over a million dollars in revenue in its first year of trading, and reaching $12.3 million in turnover in the 2013-14 financial year.

 

4. Homeart

Iconic national homewares chain Homeart was put on the market earlier this year after collapsing into administration. At the time of the appointment, the Homeart chain had 116 stores, with around 600 employees.

By March, all 103 remaining Homeart stores were set to close, with around 550 staff losing their jobs. 

The well-known homewares chain was originally launched as Copperart in 1978 and its first store was located on Canterbury Road in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Blackburn. The company rebranded as Homeart between 1999 and 2001.  

 

5. Burdines

Another retailer fell on tough times in February. Women’s clothing chain Burdines collapsed after operating for 46 years.

At the time of entering voluntary administration, Burdines was operating 12 stores across Melbourne and in regional areas including Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Albury.

 

6. Josh Goot

Josh Goot became the latest fashion designer to put their eponymous label into voluntary administration in February, with the designer saying the move was to withstand the “well-documented difficult trading conditions in the fashion industry”.

Goot later restructured the business he founded in 2005, with the fashion label emerging out of voluntary administration in March after creditors supported a Deed of Company Arrangement. 

 

7. PramWarehouse

PramWarehouse, a family-owned retailer of baby products, collapsed in February after operating for more than 25 years.

At the time, PramWarehouse had four bricks-and-mortar stores as well as an online shop.

 

9. Alphatise

In March, a high-profile Australian e-commerce startup that gained notoriety by hijacking the iPhone 6 launch in Australia and offering the “world’s best internship”, collapsed into voluntary administration.

Alphatise’s shareholders included Rich Lister and Western Australia-based technology entrepreneur Zhenya Tsvetnenko.

 

10. Rhubarb

Also in March, home-grown childrenswear brand Rhubarb collapsed into voluntary administration.

Originally founded in 2002 as a homewares designer and importer, Rhubarb Enterprises began selling children’s clothing and products in 2008 from its first retail store in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. By the end of 2012, there were six Rhubarb stores but all outlets were closed as part of the voluntary administration.

 

11. Pacific NonWovens

In May, the parent company of two leading Australian bedding and insulation manufacturers collapsed into voluntary administration due to the “difficult economic climate in the manufacturing sector”.

Pacific NonWovens manufactures synthetic fibre products under the consumer bedding brand Crestall and commercial brands, Tontine Fibres and Tontine Insulation. The company turned over $25 million in the 2014 financial year and at the time administrators were appointed, employed a staff of around 120 people. 

 

12. Heavy Haulage Australia

Heavy Haulage Australia, a high-profile haulage company that had been operating since 1999, collapsed in June.

The company was a prominent sponsor of the V8 Supercars and was the subject of a television series on Foxtel called MegaTruckers, which was based on founder and “self-made millionare” Jon Kelly and his $40 million fleet of trucks.

Heavy Haulage Australia was wound up in July after no buyer was found for the business. More than 70 people lost their jobs. 

 

13. Wendy’s Supa Sundaes

One of the most notable collapses of 2015 was that of Wendy’s Supa Sundaes, the former master franchisor of the ice cream and hot dog chain in July.

Wendy’s outlets in Australia have been operated by Singapore-based Supatreats Australia Pty Ltd since 2014 and in a letter seen by SmartCompany in July, the company told franchisees the appointment of administrators to Wendy’s Supa Sundaes would not affect there stores.

However, four company owned and operated Wendy’s outlets did close as a result of the decision to place Wendy’s Supa Sundaes in voluntary administration.

A Deed of Company Arrangement for the company was approved at the start of September. Under the deal, creditors were expected to receive between 14 and 20 cents in the dollar

 

14. Hooters

Several companies with ties to entertainment venue Hooters Australia collapsed in July, including five companies linked to individual restaurants in New South Wales and Queensland.

However, by the end of the year, US restaurant group Chanticleer Holdings bought out the locations and assets of the five Hooters outlets

Chanticleer Holdings, which operates 15 Hooters restaurants around the world, previously owned 60% of the local Hooters operations but increased its stake to 80% following the voluntary administration. 

 

15. Yatango

Several divisions of consumer data startup Yatango collapsed this year, including the mobile division, which entered voluntary administration in September. In October, another two related companies, Yatango Holdings and Yatango Mobile, entered voluntary administration and by November, the companies were placed in liquidation. 

Yatango was founded in 2013 as a consumer-focused data usage business, however the company quickly became known for its mobile platform, which allowed users to build their own mobile plans to save money. It later expanded into the travel, banking and shopping spaces.

 

16. JoJo Publishing

An estimated 50 authors were believed to be owed money when Melbourne-based book publisher JoJo Publishing was placed in voluntary liquidation in October.

JoJo Publishing had published books by more than 250 authors since it was founded in 2002. The business charged some authors a fee to publish their books, which is a different model to traditional book publishing and sometimes referred to as “vanity” publishing.

 

17. Littore Wine Group

One of Australia’s largest independent winemakers, Littore Wine Group, was placed in the hands of receivers at the end of October.

Litter Wine Group was based in Geelong in regional Victoria but also operated a vineyard in Mildura. 

 

18. Koko Black

Chocolate retailer Koko Black made the headlines last month when it entered voluntary administration. However, the chocolate maker is continuing to trade as normal.

The first Koko Black outlet opened in Melbourne in 2003 and the business employs approximately 300 employees across both its retail and wholesale operations.

 

19. Evolve Salons

Hairdressing chain Evolve Salons reportedly had less than $4 in one of its bank accounts when it collapsed into liquidation in November.

Evolve Salons was founded two years ago and employed approximately 300 people across its network of 53 hairdressing salons.

The company had previously raised more than $8.7 million from investors for its roll-out strategy, which involved spending $9.82 million buying other hairdressing salons. These hairdressing businesses included Bach Hair, Lattouf Hair and Day Spa, Bossy Hair, Meika, tmh and Legends Hairdressing. 

 

20. Vocation

Troubled training provider Vocation fell into voluntary administration in November, just over 12 months since the company was forced to forfeit $19.6 million in government funding.

Less than a week after entered voluntary administration, Vocation ceased operations. As a result, 150 employees lost their jobs. 

 

21. My Baby Warehouse

Baby goods retailer My Baby Warehouse NSW collapsed on December 10, just weeks out from Christmas.

The company operates 11 outlets across New South Wales and is continuing to trade, despite a freeze being placed on gift cards, refunds and lay-bys. 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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