Fashion brand Esprit will leave Australia and New Zealand as company focuses on Asian markets

clothing retail

Fashion brand Esprit has given up on the Australian market after close to thirty years, announcing more than 300 staff will have to find new jobs this year as the brand shuts all local operations.

Esprit’s parent company is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and on Thursday executive director Thomas Tang told shareholders it had made the decision to abandon operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The brands generate around $50 million annually across the two nations, which accounts for about two per cent of the group’s annual takings.

Esprit operates 16 retail stores, 38 concessions and 13 factory outlets across the two nations. It employs 350 staff, with around 30 of these in New Zealand. One hundred of the roles to be lost are in New South Wales and 90 in Victoria.

Around half of these roles are casual positions, 30% are full-time and 20% are permanent part-time.

Tang said that “despite intensive efforts made by the team to turn around the business”, the brand had decided it was better to concentrate on other parts of Asia instead of keeping Australian operations ticking along.

Director of ANZ operations Stephen Newnham said in a statement that the choice was “unfortunate but unavoidable”.

Esprit was founded in 1968 and has a global turnover of €3.25 billion ($AUD5.18 billion). The brand came to Australia and New Zealand “in the 1980s”, according to the company, with Australian stores launching in 1991.

It sells women’s, men’s and children’s clothing as well as homewares. The brand is not the first overseas mid-market fashion imprint to depart Australia over the past year: last year, embattled handbag brand Oroton started closing its Gap-franchised stores in August, while beauty stalwart Avon announced in February that it would no longer be calling on shoppers Down Under.

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