Sunday, October 27, 2013

Snowgum goes into voluntary administration

A customer leaves a Snowgum store in Sydney.

A customer leaves a Snowgum store in Sydney.

Iconic adventurewear retailer Snowgum has lurched into voluntary administration following a dispute over rent with a landlord of one of its shops in the face of a general downturn in consumer confidence and tough times in the retail sector.

In business since 1926 and selling a range of outdoor clothing with a focus on functional performance fabrics, it operates out of 20 stores.

BusinessDay has discovered that Snowgum, which is privately owned, was locked in a court stoush with the landlord of its Chapel Street, Prahran, store over $15,245 in allegedly unpaid rent.

Corporate records obtained by BusinessDay show insolvency experts Glenn Franklin, Jason Stone and Petr Vrsecky of Lawler Draper Dillon were appointed administrators last Wednesday.

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The retail sector has been hit with a wave of collapses since the global financial crisis, especially in fashion, including stores such as Brown Sugar, Bettina Liano, Ed Harry, Ojay, Colorado, Bettina Liano and Fletcher Jones. Fashion retailers have not been the only ones to struggle, with bookshops Borders and Angus & Robertson also falling into the hands of administrators.

Chapel Street landlord Karenlee Nominees, which is owned by lawyer Paul Brand and his godson, former Liberal Party Victorian state director Julian Sheezel, launched legal action against Snowgum last month.

In a writ filed with the Victorian Supreme Court on October 1, Karenlee Nominees sought to have one of the companies in the Snowgum group, Snowgum Australia, wound up.

Karenlee Nominees alleged it had not been paid the full amount of rent owed in June and July.

''There's been a problem that recurred... over a period of time in history,'' Mr Brand told BusinessDay.

''You don't go and do what I've done unless you have to,'' he said.

Snowgum started life as the Scout Shop, owned by the Scout Association, but since 2010 has been in the hands of private investors including managing director Ross Elliott.

BusinessDay has attempted to contact Mr Elliott and Mr Vrsecky for comment.


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