Retail

Fashion brands David Lawrence and Marcs collapse into voluntary administration

Emma Koehn /

Australian fashion brands David Lawrence and Marcs have collapsed into voluntary administration.

Geoffrey Reidy and Andrew Barden of Rodgers Reidy were appointed as administrators to the companies that operate the labels, M. Webster Holdings Pty Ltd and Webster Asset Pty Ltd on February 1, while Andrew Barden and and Paul Vlasic of Rodgers Reidy NZ have been appointed to M. Webster Holdings NZ.

Administrators have confirmed the two brands will continue to trade as they consider the financial position of the companies as a whole and “on an individual shop basis”.

“It is business as usual and all employees are to carry out their normal duties unless specifically requested by the administrators to do something different,” Rodgers Reidy said in a notice to employees about the voluntary administration.

The businesses employ more than 1100 staff across Australia and New Zealand, including 260 full time workers in Australia.

Wages have been paid to staff up until January 30, 2017, and the administrators will now look for potential buyers for the brands as they embark on a “sales and marketing campaign for the business as soon as possible”.

Staff have been advised in a document from administrators that they should continue to follow rosters and conduct business as usual until notified otherwise. Gift cards for the brands will be honoured, but no new gift cards sold and no new payment transactions are to be conducted via the Afterpay platform.

The David Lawrence and Marcs brands operate 52 standalone stores across Australia and New Zealand, along with 11 outlet stores and 140 concessions contained within larger department stores, including David Jones and Myer.

The labels are operated by Webster Holdings, for which Malcolm Webster is sole director. The company was founded in 1992 and in 2000 it purchased the David Lawrence brand from South African retail group Truworth Ltd. In 2006, Webster Holdings purchased the Marcs brand from Oroton.

Webster has said deteriorating sales and poor market conditions contributed to the voluntary administration, according to reports from AAP. 

Malcolm Webster also brought his Jigsaw clothing brand to Australia in 1991 and until 2016, Webster Holdings operated 17 Jigsaw stores, before its UK parent company took back control of the brand in Australia. 

More to come. 

With additional reporting by Dominic Powell. 

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.

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