An iconic jewellery retailer has been warned it could soon be the next victim in Australia’s struggling retail sector if its sales figures continue to take a dive. 

Wallace Bishop, which has 50 stores and 500 employees, has been providing stunning diamonds to customers in Queensland and New South Wales for more than 100 years.

But after reporting losses of $6.07million last year and $9.4million in 2018 it faces an uncertain future.

Former Bachelor star Faith Williams (pictured with partner Jeremy Hassell) shows off her drop earrings from Wallace Bishop

Former Bachelor star Faith Williams (pictured with partner Jeremy Hassell) shows off her drop earrings from Wallace Bishop 

Bachelor Australia contestant Tara Pavlovic is seen wearing a pair of Wallace Bishop earrings last year

Bachelor Australia contestant Tara Pavlovic is seen wearing a pair of Wallace Bishop earrings last year

Its auditor, Merrotts said it will need to boost sales and reduce overheads if it hopes to survive the ‘retail apocalypse’, which has already seen the demise of household names such as Harris Scarfe, Bardot, Roger David, and Napoleon Perdis.

The warning comes just days after it emerged the company will close its Toombul store, in Brisbane, where it has been operating since 1967.

However, Wallace Bishop chief executive Stuart Bishop was confident the company could thrive for another 100 years.

He told the Courier Mail the company was starting to see improvements and had been meeting their sales targets over the past three months.

The company had seen a ‘considerable increase’ in online sales and was also looking at investing further in e-commerce, he said. 

Wallace Bishop Junior, company director and grandson of the company’s founder Wallace Bishop, previously said the current retail climate was the toughest they had ever seen.

Wallace Bishop, which has 50 stores and 500 employees, has been providing stunning diamonds to customers in Queensland and New South Wales for more than 100 years

Wallace Bishop, which has 50 stores and 500 employees, has been providing stunning diamonds to customers in Queensland and New South Wales for more than 100 years

Instagram model Ella Golding (pictured) shows off a watch from Wallace Bishop

Instagram model Ella Golding (pictured) shows off a watch from Wallace Bishop

‘People are looking after their money and are looking for value. This is probably the toughest period we have gone through.’

Australian retail growth is at its worst level since the early 1990s recession. 

Dropping like files: Some of Australia’s recent retail casualties

2016: Dick Smith, Masters hardware, Payless Shoes

2017: Topshop Australia

2018: Avon, Espirit, Toys ‘R’ Us, Max Brenner, Roger David

2019: Ed Harry, Diana Ferrari, Napoleon Perdis, Ziera, Bardot, Harris Scarfe  

2020: Jeans West , Collete Hayman, EB Games, Co-op bookstore

Famed entrepreneur Dick Smith believes the outlook is so dire that high-profile collapses will accelerate until there’s very little left.

‘We will end up with just Amazon and Aldi and basically all the Aussie companies will be sent to bankruptcy,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘All those famous brands will go. Some of them might exist in name only but will be taken over by overseas companies.’

Mr Smith watched the electronics chain that bore his name crash in 2016, decades after he sold it in 1980. The collapse was one of Australia’s biggest retail failures.

Harris Scarfe, founded in 1849, also took consumers by surprise when it entered administration in December and is now about to close at least 21 stores.

Myer closed 74,670 square metres of stores in 2015-17 and shut down multiple big stores

Myer closed 74,670 square metres of stores in 2015-17 and shut down multiple big stores

A week after going into administration clothing giant Jeanswest announced it would close 37 of its 146 stores across Australia, making 263 of its 988 staff redundant in the process

A week after going into administration clothing giant Jeanswest announced it would close 37 of its 146 stores across Australia, making 263 of its 988 staff redundant in the process

Myer closed 74,670 square metres of stores in 2015-17 and shut down its Colonnades store in Adelaide and Belconnen outlet in Canberra.

The Hornsby store, in Sydney’s north, closed last month after 40 years following a depressing fire sale of up to 80 per cent off.

In January popular jewellery and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman was placed into voluntary administration despite making $140million last year.

Administrators from Deloitte Restructuring Services said the country’s dire retail climate was at the centre of the business’s failure.

The brand has now been put in the hands of Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracey.

David Jones has been owned by a South African conglomerate since 2014 and is struggling just as much as its arch-rival.

And just last month Jeanswest announced it would close 37 stores across Australia, with 263 of its 988 staff to be made redundant. 

The announcement came just weeks after it was placed into voluntary administration. 

Major fashion chain Bardot also announced plans to close 58 stores nationwide before March

Major fashion chain Bardot also announced plans to close 58 stores nationwide before March

The brand is yet another retail store that had collapsed, following Harris Scarfe, Bardot, Roger David, EB Games and Napoleon Perdis

The brand is yet another retail store that had collapsed, following Harris Scarfe, Bardot, Roger David, EB Games and Napoleon Perdis

Whereas Aldi sales jumped 10 per cent in 2018 to about $9.2 billion and opened about 20 stores across the country last year. Coles was about $39 billion.

Amazon Australia’s sales reached $260 million in 2018, its first full year since opening, and are tipped to hit $23 billion in 10 years.

Retail expert Brian Walker said those most at risk were big fashion chains that have existed for decades, because they could no longer rely on their in-store offerings to beat online rivals.

‘We’re seeing a very distinct line between shopping and buying. Buying is the domain of Ali Baba and Amazon, while shopping is inspirational, aspirational and emotional,’ he told 9 Finance.

Mr Evans said big retailers were also spending far too much on back-office staff and needed to slim down their operations to people with fresh ideas.

Smaller business, on the other hand, were being driven into the ground by landlords and shopping centres charging far too much in rent.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Wallace Bishop for comment.  

AUSTRALIA’S RETAIL APOCALYPSE: WHY YOUR FAVOURITE STORE COULD BE NEXT 

Amazon and other online retailers are driving local brands out of the market by taking advantage of Australian businesses whose products are easy to copy, a retail expert has warned.

In the past year Australian brands including Harris Scarfe, Bardot, Roger David and Napoleon Perdis have failed and closed dozens of outlets as they fall victim to huge overseas competitors.

Now the chief executive of a leading market research company has told Daily Mail Australia that businesses which cannot carve out a niche will remain under threat from foreign giants. 

‘The ones that are going to survive are the ones that have captured something special,’ Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said.

‘The whole logic of this is if you don’t have something really special, you could be in trouble.

‘Some discount stores may have a special niche which keeps customers going, but if they don’t have that then they might struggle.’

Ms Levine did not name any particular companies who could be the next to close.

But in 2016 the managing director of Wesfarmers Richard Goyder said the Amazon Fresh grocery service would ‘eat all our breakfasts lunch and dinners’ if it opened in Australia. 

Last year, Retail Doctor Group chairman David Kindl said Amazon was ‘a definite threat to retailers like Kmart and Big W and Myer and all specialty stores’.

Legendary entrepreneur Dick Smith has also warned Amazon could send Australian companies bankrupt.

He cited the online giant’s lower overheads and ability to operate more cheaply than Australian companies as a major contributor to the country’s retail downturn.

In 2018 he warned the huge American Walmart corporation could take over Australia’s Kmart department store chain within five years.

‘They’ll take Kmart, that will go first, in the next four or five years,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. 

 

 

 

 

 



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