Founder and daughter duo rescue Crumpler from administration


Crumpler on Flinders Lane Melbourne. Source: Facebook.

Iconic bag maker Crumpler has been saved from administration by one of its founders and his daughter, after lockdowns pushed the business to the brink of collapse.

David Roper, who co-founded the business 26 years ago, has returned as chief executive and his daughter Virginia Martin, who owns the fashion label búl, will take on the role of creative director.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Martin noted how fast the process has been, with her and Roper needing to source funds “very quickly”.

The pair considered a range of options to help raise enough capital to pay the debts Crumpler owes to creditors as well as entitlements to staff.

“We didn’t really want to turn to private equity after what happened with Crescent, we thought about crowdfunding, but one of our factories was interested in partnering with us,” Martin says.

“So we started the conversation and made that happen.”

Crumpler will partner with a manufacturer in Hong Kong to lift the business out of voluntary administration under the guidance of Jason Glenn Stone of the accounting firm PKF Melbourne.

The modern backpack and luggage brand was founded by Australians Roper, Will Miller and Stuart Crumpler in Melbourne in 1995.

In 2011, Crumpler sold his share to Roper and Miller, who went on to sell the majority stake of the business to the investment firm Crescent Capital Partners in 2015.

When Crescent Capital Partners filed for voluntary administration in September, the company had 11 stores, with three open for click-and-collect services and the remaining eight stores closed due to lockdowns.

Martin says the administrators have downsized the business significantly since restructuring began, closing the majority off its stores and letting go staff.

“The company is very small now. We have one retail store and an online store so we’re starting from scratch,” she says.

“Some staff we’re keeping on board and others we hope will be able to work with us again,” she adds.

Martin began working at Crumpler as a teenager and continued to work in the stores for more than a decade before starting the fashion label búl.

She says she’s excited to return to the business alongside Roper and restore Crumpler to the founder’s original vision.

“I have a very close bond to the company and for Dave as well, [Crumpler] was his baby,” Martin says.

“I’m just so happy for us to be able to work together and bring it back to what it was when it started.”


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