Spotlight Group buys Harris Scarfe

In 2018, Australia’s first Masters store in Melbourne’s Braybrook reopened as a HomeCo homemaker centre – a venture part backed by Spotlight Group owners Zac Fried and his nephew, Morry Fraid.

Spotlight Group has pulled Harris Scarfe out of receivership.

The Melbourne based, family-owned Spotlight acquired the 170-year old Adelaide-founded department store chain today.

Spotlight was shortlisted with three parties by administrator, Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge.

Harris Scarfe entered voluntary administration in December, 2019, with 21 outlets across five states closed in January.

The retailer now employs 1300 people.

A sale to Spotlight was dependent on numerous factors, according to reports, including revising rental agreements with some landlords.

Spotlight controls numerous brands including an eponymous haberdashery chain, outdoor adventure and sporting business, Anaconda, and clothing and recreation equipment retailer, Mountain Designs.

Its directors also own and co-own substantial commercial real estate – including a portfolio of ex-Masters hardware stores which are in the process of being refitted and reopened as homemaker centres.

Spotlight’s headquarters – and possibly now, Harris Scarfe’s – sits on the top floor of a shopping centre it owns adjacent to South Melbourne Market.

“The acquisition of Harris Scarfe would offer Spotlight Group another iconic retail brand and the potential to deepen our market share,” Spotlight managing director Avi Gilboa said in a statement.

“It also presents the opportunity to leverage our significant interests, including Spotlight Property Group and ASX-listed HomeCo”.

Spotlight’s acquisition of Harris Scarfe is scheduled to settle next month.

Harris Scarfe no stranger to rising and falling

Once considered Australia’s third biggest department store, Harris Scarfe was only picked up by Allegro Brands last November – a month before it was put into administration.

Greenlit Brands was the last owner.

It offloaded Harris Scarfe, Best and Less, Posito and Debenhams’ only Australian store to Allegro, it said, to focus on its more profitable businesses (namely, Freedom, Fantastic Furniture, Plush, OMF and Snooze).

Greenlit Brands also owns eight Australian manufacturing plants and a logistics business.

Until recently, it was controlled by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed Steinhoff Asia Pacific – which picked up Harris Scarfe following its acquisition of Momentum Private Equity in 2012.

Momentum snapped up Harris Scarfe in 2007.

The retailer had only six years earlier been placed in receivership again before experiencing a turnaround in trade.

From 1971, it was owned by Charles Davis Limited, a company controlled by Melbourne businessman Sir Donald Trescowthick.

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Marc Pallisco

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

Marc Pallisco