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It's tough at the Top: Topshop and Topman franchise put into receivership

  • News
  • September 7, 2017
  • The Register team
It's tough at the Top: Topshop and Topman franchise put into receivership

Three years after its initial opening in New Zealand, the Topshop and Topman New Zealand franchise business has been put into receivership.

Top Retail Ltd is the company that operates the license for British fashion brands Topshop and Topman in New Zealand.

A statement from the directors of Top Retail Ltd expressed the company’s aim to try and find a solution to the situation.

“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. 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."

Both Auckland’s Queen Street and Wellington’s Lambton Quay stores will be put into the hands of receivers on Thursday 7th September. Both stores will operate as usual until a decision is made by the receivers as to their future ownership.

Conor McElhinney and Kare Johnstone of McGrathNicol were appointed Receivers and Managers, and they now control of the business and assets of Top Retail Limited. 

The two receivers commented that the directors had undertaken a detailed assessment of the company’s ability to continue to trade against the backdrop of increasing competition and the Australian Topshop operations being placed into voluntary administration in May 2017 due to similar issues.

The directors included Mary Devine, Gary Hitchcock, Karen Walker and James Whiting. 

The plan to bring the British retail brand to New Zealand had been in talks for three years before it opened, with Kiwi designer Karen Walker and her husband Mikhail Gherman partnering with Barker's managing director Jamie Whiting and rich-lister Philip Carter to form Top Retail in 2014.

The company secured the rights to own, develop and operate the brand across New Zealand.

A spokesperson for Karen Walker said to The Herald that the Karen Walker group was a completely different entity to Top Retail and was unaffected.

It became apparent that the company was unable to continue to trade due to the losses being incurred and the Directors therefore requested the secured lender appoint receivers to the company.

In May of this year the chain was placed into voluntary administration due to an internal restructuring for its Australian stores.

Topshop opened its first New Zealand store in Auckland’s CBD in March 2015, followed by the opening of its second store in Wellington, late 2016.

In the wake of the receivership Top Retail Ltd’s directors say they are committed to working closely with all local staff through this transition stage.

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