Homewares chain ISHKA collapses, putting 450 jobs at risk

ISHKA

Homewares, fashion and accessories chain ISHKA has collapsed into voluntary administration, putting the jobs of more than 450 workers at risk in what is just the latest business failure to rock Australia’s retail landscape this year.

The 50-year-old retailer, which has about 60 stores across Australia, said poor Christmas trading coupled with supply chain disruption tipped the company over the edge in recent weeks.

Rachel Burdett of Cor Cordis has now been appointed to oversee ISHKA’s affairs ahead of an initial meeting of creditors next week, which will canvas options for keeping the business open.

Tony Darvall, chief executive of the family-owned business, took to social media last night to break the news to customers and industry colleagues, describing the collapse as “devastating”.

We have explored numerous options to save ISHKA and we have been working tirelessly with our bank, advisors and other creditors to find a sustainable solution,” Darvall said in a LinkedIn post.

“Unfortunately, attempts to secure extra finance were unsuccessful.”

ISHKA is just the latest casualty of poor trading conditions and changing consumer trends across Australia’s retail sector, following the recent collapses of department store Harris Scarfe, Jeanswest, Bardot and The Co-op.

Darvall said Australia has experienced an “unusually challenging” summer period, revealing the business was “crippled” by $3 million worth of Christmas stock delayed due to a supply chain issue.

Australia’s already struggling retail sector has been rocked by several black swan events in recent months, including the local bushfire crisis and the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has disrupted supply chains around the world.

Darvall took to Instagram and Facebook in an attempt to rally customers around a fire sale on Wednesday evening — a promotion the company is hoping may generate enough revenue to save the business.

“We will try absolutely everything we can to save it and stay in business and keep our beautiful stores open! We are working day and night to save Ishka – but we need your help too,” the executive told customers via social media.

ISHKA has swiped 50% off its entire range overnight in an effort to clear stock as stores continue to trade through the administration.

No word yet on whether any closures are imminent, but it is typical for administrators to close underperforming stores after an initial review of company accounts.

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