Curious Planet to shut 63 stores as 2020 claims hundreds of retail scalps

Curious Planet store

Source: Curious Planet

The Co-op bookshop’s Curious Planet retail network will be wound up by the end of March unless an eleventh hour buyer emerges for the business.

The network of 63 stores, which were formerly known as Australian Geographic stores, are today in the midst of a stock fire sale as administrators for collapsed parent Co-op Bookshop Limited prepare to shut down the business permanently.

PricewaterhouseCoopers administrator Andrew Scott has been trying to sell the business as a going concern since it collapsed in December last year, but he said on Monday no suitable suitors have emerged.

The administrators did not say how many workers would be affected by the closures, but SmartCompany has sought clarification on the number of people affected.

“A number of discussions have been held and are still ongoing with interested parties, however, no acceptable offer to purchase some or all the Curious Planet store network has been forthcoming,” Scott said in a statement on Monday.

“While we remain open to offers from potential purchasers, we have no option at this time but to commence the orderly closure of the stores.”

Separately, Scott said the sale process for the Co-op bookshop business is at an “advanced stage”, suggesting a buyer may be announced for the business in the coming weeks.

No update was provided by the administrators regarding the investigation of allegations that the Co-Op’s chief executive oversaw hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance payments to a supplier he controls.

The impending Curious Planet wind-up brings the total number of announced retail store closures in 2020 to 159, just two weeks into the new year.

Administrators from department store Harris Scarfe and womenswear chain Bardot announced a raft of closures last week, totalling 21 and 56 respectively, while struggling specialty player EB Games also said it would close 19 stores.

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