Embattled retail chain Laura Ashley has fallen into administration for the second time in as many years, threatening the future of 18 stores and 100 workers.
The fashion and home furnishing retailer, which operates under license from the UK Laura Ashley business, appointed Craig Shepard and Leanne Chesser of KordaMentha Restructuring yesterday.
In a statement, Shepard offered what has become a somewhat standard line for retail collapses in recent months, saying the business had fallen prey to the usual suspects.
“The business has been hurt by the same factors affecting many other fashion retailers – a becalmed retail environment, rising fixed costs and fierce competition from online retailers,” he said.
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Shepard and Chesser are reviewing the shape of the business and will call for expressions of interest for the company’s brand license and stock.
A private investor purchased Laura Ashley’s Australian business from administration in 2016, hoping to turn the business around.
However, Shepard says capital requirements to bring the business back from the brink became “too burdensome” in the current retail environment.
Laura Ashley was founded in England more than 60 years ago by Laura and Bernard Ashley, beginning Australian operations in 1971.
At its peak the business had more than 45 stores in Australia, declining to 18 when the business was purchased in 2016.
When Laura Ashley was advertised for sale in 2016, it had $42 million in annual revenue.
It’s been a difficult year for the retail sector, veteran retail chain Roger David only closed its stores last week, after falling into administration and failing to find a buyer.
Shepard and Chesser will start clearing Laura Ashley stock, a move that will put even more margin pressure on retail competitors in the lead up to Christmas.