Topshop operator calls in receivers as trading losses mount

Article – BusinessDesk

Topshop operator calls in receivers as trading losses mount

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 7 (BusinessDesk) – Top Retail, which operates New Zealand’s two Topshop and Topman branded stores, has been tipped into receivership due to the prospect of mounting losses in the face of increased competition, an environment that sunk its Australian counterpart in May.

McGrathNicol’s Conor McElhinney and Kare Johnstone were today appointed receivers by the Auckland-based company’s secured lender at the request of directors, the receivers said in a statement. Directors Mary Devine, Gary Hitchcock, Karen Walker and James Whiting ran the rule over the business’s ability to keep trading in an environment of heightened competition after the Australian Topshop operations were placed into voluntary administration over similar issues. The prospect of losses made it apparent the company couldn’t keep trading, the receivers said.

“We have put our hearts and souls into this business, we have the best staff, great store locations, and the directors have left no stone unturned in trying to find a solution,” the directors said in a separate statement. “It is with regret that the directors had no alternative but to request the secured lender to appoint receivers. We will work closely with the receivers to ensure the best possible outcome for the business and employees.”

The receivership is the latest in a line of retailers struggling to make a traditional bricks-and-mortar model work when online rivals avoid the overhead of a high street site and are accused of skirting customs duties that traditional vendors face.

Top Retailer launched the popular UK brand in New Zealand in 2014, with Kiwi clothing firm Barkers, Christchurch property investor Philip Carter and fashion designer Karen Walker taking the rights to own, develop and operate the brand locally. So far it’s opened a store on Auckland’s Queen St and one on Wellington’s Lambton Quay, and had signalled plans to add two more. It had also planned to open an online store later this year.

Instead, today’s receivership will hand control of the business and assets with the receivers.

“Both the Wellington and Auckland stores will continue to trade while the receivers work with the directors, management and staff to assess options for the company,” McElhinney said. “Any parties interested in the business or assets or any part thereof, such as the leases or fit-out, should contact the receivers.”

Top Retail said both stores will operate as usual until the receivers make a decision on future ownership, and that the directors “are committed to working closely with all local staff through this transition stage”.



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