Retail

Deal to save Max Brenner falls through as receivers appointed

Matthew Elmas /

Max Brenner

A Max Brenner chocolate fondue tower.

Receivers have been appointed over some Max Brenner assets after a proposed acquisition of the troubled cafe chain fell through in spectacular fashion late last week.

The future of the business remains uncertain after investment duo David and Craig Tozer pulled out of a deal which would have saved the chain last Friday.

Liquidators BDO announced the Tozer brothers were buying the business last Thursday, releasing a statement which said they were “excited” about the opportunity.

But by Friday the tune had changed. After an apparent breakdown in negotiations, the statement was removed from BDO’s website and a spokesperson confirmed the sale was not going ahead.

David Tozer clarified his position in a statement sent out on Friday afternoon, which said he is “extremely disappointed” but was “left with no choice” but to walk away from the deal, claiming the liquidators changed the terms.

“We had a plan and a vision to restore the chain to profitability and to save the jobs of staff, but the commercial roadblocks and impediments were insurmountable,” Tozer said.

“We thought we were very close to an agreement with the liquidators on Thursday morning but the requirements changed as the day progressed such that we were unfortunately left with no alternative but to move on,” he said.

BDO declined to comment on the Tozer deal falling through when contacted on Monday morning.

After the deal fell through, secured creditor Glenn Wein appointed receivers from Ferrier Hodgson over some of the company’s assets, in a move that is expected to hamper any further efforts to sell the business.

Ferrier Hodgson confirmed Stephen Parbery and Peter Hothard have been appointed as receivers over plant and equipment, the chosers in action and the books and records of Max Brenner.

The receivers have not been appointed across the entire business, leaving liquidators responsible for the ongoing operation of Max Brenner.

BDO declined to comment on the appointment of receivers when contacted on Monday morning.

Max Brenner appointed voluntary administrators earlier this month after suffering “escalating costs and tighter retail trade”.

About 20 of the company’s 37 stores were closed before liquidators from BDO were appointed last week, after about 250 of the company’s 664-strong workforce had been laid off.

The business owed employees an estimated $5.8 million when administrators were appointed, while 700 people have come forward with unpaid super claims.

In total, it is estimated the business owed $33.1 million to creditors when administrators were appointed.

The Australian franchise for Max Brenner was owned by Tom and Lilly Haikin, who brought the Israeli-born brand Down Under in 1999.

The business expanded to 40-stores in Australia prior to its downfall, while the brand itself is also present in the United States, Israel, Japan and Russia.

NOW READ: Cafe chain Max Brenner falls into voluntary administration amid declining sales throwing jobs of 600 workers into air

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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