Napoleon Perdis has found a potential saviour in private equity firm KUBA Investments, which has offered to purchase the collapsed cosmetics business for an undisclosed sum.
The deal, yet to be approved by creditors, would see prominent cross-border retailer Livia Wang and her business partner Henry Lee take control of the business, with an eye on overseas expansion, likely into China.
The eponymous retail chain, founded by Napoleon Perdis in 1995, was placed into voluntary administration in January, owing over $20 million to creditors, including Priceline owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries.
Perdis supports the deal and despite signing over his stake in the company will continue to contribute his “creative expertise” to the business alongside partner Soula-Marie Perdis.
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Simon Cathro, Chris Cook and Ivan Glavas of Worrels Insolvency have recommended creditors approve the deal in their latest report, saying the deal would represent better value than liquidation.
“We have undertaken significant investigations into the affairs of the company and weighed up those findings against the benefit that this DOCA and the associated creditors’ trust provides,” Cathro said.
Worrels said Priceline and Terry White pharmacies are supporting the buyout proposal.
Wang’s retail expertise centres around Chinese e-commerce, with her firm Access Brand Management representing businesses looking to do business in mainland China through daigou or other established channels.
Australian cosmetics are popular in China and routinely rank among the most popular items purchased on marketplace platforms owned by tech giants Alibaba and JD.com.
Wang was not available for comment on Friday morning but said in a statement she intends to retain Australian access to the brand.
“KUBA’s investment will ensure loyal customers can continue to purchase Napoleon Perdis in over 700 storefronts and keeps more than 250 existing staff members in employment,” she said.
“We will leverage off the restructure undertaken by Worrells and continue to work closely with Napoleon and the teams to build the brand both in Australia and overseas.”
At the time of its collapse, Napoleon Perdis was trading 56 of its own stores and was stocked in Priceline locations nationwide.
Administrators were forced to close 28 locations during the administration as they battled to keep the business trading.
The collapse came as a surprise to the industry, but it was revealed the business had been struggling with mounting losses for several years.
Perdis had attempted an overseas expansion of his own, and in 2018 was even considering pulling the trigger on an Asian expansion after cutting up a supply arrangement with David Jones.