The directors of stationery chain Kikki.K say they are “humbled” by an outpouring of support for the brand, with nine interested buyers and partners coming forward just days after it entered voluntary administration and receivership.
In an email sent to Kikki.K employees, co-founder and chief executive Paul Lacy said he and co-founder Kristina Karlsson are “truly optimistic and excited” about one potential partnership in particular, and while it has been “a tough and emotion filled few days … it certainly isn’t even close to the end for Kikki.K”.
“This is really just a rebirth in a strange way,” he wrote.
In an email shared with SmartCompany, Alana Hose, head of retail and commercial space at Kikki.K, told staff members on Thursday morning the brand’s store sales are up 94% against their targets, and 60 stores had gotten “over the line”.
“We have had so many beautiful stories shared — it really does feel like our amazing guests, Kikki.K alumni, family and friends are wrapping their arms around everyone and giving us all the biggest hug,” Hose said.
Hose also confirmed to the Kikki.K teams that none of the stores will close, and the brand has not moved to put all stock on sale.
She said all Kikki.K gift cards are still valid and can continue to be redeemed in-store and online, and all scheduled Kikki.K workshops will be going ahead as planned. The retailer is also continuing to sign up new customers to its membership program.
Data shared with SmartCompany also shows online sales from the brand’s e-commerce store were up by 400% on Wednesday, compared to the year before.
SmartCompany understands the receivers of the business are still in the process of assessing the company and the expressions of interest from potential buyers ahead of the first creditors’ meeting next week.
In his email, Lacy echoed similar sentiments expressed in the statement on Tuesday, saying the Kikki.K “dream is very much alive”.
“There are so many silver linings and positives that are coming out of all this,” he said.
“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve all built together, from the simple dream Kristina had over 20 years ago, and we’re so proud of our team and the work and sacrifices we’ve all done and made for nearly 20 years.”
Lacy admitted “the company certainly needs a re-set”, but said the voluntary administration process is “giving us breathing space and the chance to … find a new partner”.
“It will all make a great chapter in a book one day — or a great documentary,” continued Lacy.
“And when we read that or watch that, we will all feel a tremendous sense of pride that even in the toughest of times, we all pulled together, learned so much and did remarkable things together for all stakeholders.
Kristina and I are so happy and humbled with the galvanising support of our awesome team around the globe — and the support from thousands of people like you has been breathtaking, heart-warming and beautiful.”
Both Hose and Lacy referred to an outpouring of support for the brand on social media, with the hashtag #KikkiKLove attracting thousands of new posts, including many positive stories about the brand, particularly from former employees.
Meanwhile, a third email seen by SmartCompany from Emma Merrett, the manager of the Kikki.K store in Malvern, Melbourne, described some of the in-store reactions from Kikki.K customers.
“Malvern, in particular, has had guests coming in to ‘invest’ money into the company by buying in bulk as they want to ‘support the business’.
“Although they may not be in the position to ‘save’ the business on a larger scale … they want to do their little bit to help Kikk-K out,” Merrett told Lacy and Karlsson.
“The love that our guests have for your company extends beyond shopping. This company has become a part of so many individuals whether it be your teams or our guests.
“We have also had retailers from Malvern Central come in to give us big hugs, snacks for the day and some chocolates to make our day sweeter,” she added.
Kikki.K was founded by Karlsson and Lacy in Melbourne in 2001. It operates 65 stores across Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The company employs 450 full-time equivalent employees and turns over $70 million in annual revenue.
On Tuesday, the company said Jim Downey of J.P Downey & Co has been appointed as voluntary administrator, while Barry Wright and Bruno Secatore of Cor Cordis have also been appointed receivers of the company, which is continuing to trade.