Bardot enters voluntary administration; ex-customers criticise over-priced new ranges

Women’s fashion brand Bardot, which is headquartered in a historic Abbotsford warehouse on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River, has entered voluntary administration.

The clothes maker and retailer employs about 800 staff and trades from 72 Australian stores.

Its competitors include local outfits Witchery, Sportsgirl and Country Road – as well as international brands, H&M and Zara.

In recent years, it has expanded into the European and US markets and boosted its online presence.

Established in 1996, Bardot will “trade as usual” while receiver, KPMG, seeks to both restructure the company and find a buyer.

Commentary posted on social media following news of Bardot’s voluntary administration on Friday suggests the retailer has in recent years increased the volume of under-sized and over-priced stock.

Bardot the latest in a string of retailers to recently fall

News of Bardot entering voluntary administration comes a week after the Co-Op bookshop, which controls Curious Planet and Australian Geographic – also fell.

Sydney-based Co-Op Bookshop employs 180 people in 63 stores, nationally.

It picked up Australian Geographic from Myer Family Investments in 2016.

Australian Geographic was founded by Dick Smith in 1992.

The Dick Smith electronics retailer, which Mr Smith established in 1968 – and was last owned by Anchorage Capital – closed 363 stores, firing 2460 people, in 2016.

Italian restaurant Criniti’s entered voluntary administration last week.

A fortnight ago, supplements store Muscle Coach also collapsed, with $1 million in debts.

In October, furniture retailer Zanui, and Shannon Bennett’s restaurant chain, Benny Burger, fell.

Last November, we reported that clothing retailer Roger David would close all of its 57 Australian stores.

Another menswear store, Ed Harry, collapsed in January, 2019.

Make up retailer Napolean Perdis shut its 56 shops this year too, joining two sportswear brands Skins and Stylerunner, womenswear store Karen Millen and footwear retailer Shoes of Prey.

Other major retailers to announce the closure of stores this year include Big W, in April, and Target, in August.

Last month, online retailer Catch rented part of the Target space at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s inner west Maribyrnong – for a pop-up-store.

Operating a national retail network the way Bardot was is “no longer sustainable”

Bardot chief executive officer Basil Artemides is stressing the business offers great potential.

“Despite double-digit growth in online sales and our highly successful expansion in the US and Europe, Bardot’s retail stores in Australia are competing in a highly cluttered and increasingly discount-driven market,” the executive said in a statement.

Operating a national retail network in Bardot’s current state however, Mr Artemis said, “is no longer sustainable”.

KPMG restructuring partner Brendan Richards said he is undertaking an immediate assessment of the business.

The first meeting with creditors will take place on December 10.

It is expected the next announcement about the business’ direction will occur in the first quarter of next year.

Bardot’s customer care centre, warehouse and factory outlet at 63 Victoria Crescent, Abbotsford. Source: Google Street View.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property analyst and journalist, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco
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