After 73 years in business, a few challenging trading years have tipped Kiwi footwear brand Ziera into voluntary receivership.
Founded as Kumfs in 1946, Ziera has 22 stores in New Zealand and 23 in Australia. It has around 250 staff in total. Ziera also stocks independent shoe retailers around the world.
Conor McElhinney and Andrew Grenfell, partners of McGrathNicol, have been appointed voluntary administrators of Ziera’s New Zealand entities by a resolution of their Board of Directors. Shaun Fraser and Kathy Sozou, partners of McGrathNicol Australia, have been appointed Administrators of Ziera’s Australian operations.
The administrators have taken control of Ziera and intend to continue operating the companies whilst seeking a sale of the business, either in whole or in part.
The administrators say Ziera has a loyal customer base, but its wholesale base has been eroded as larger competitors and online sales take market share from the independent footwear retailers that stock it.
Its operation as a whole has also been impacted by the falling New Zealand dollar increasing the cost of manufacturing; the United States-China trade dispute, with United States tariffs on shoes increasing to 25 percent, impacting the profitability of selling into the United States; and issues with its supply chain. With Australia as the key market for Ziera, weakness in the Australian dollar has negatively affected sales margins.
Ziera launched its first ecommerce website in December 2016. Even though its Australian and New Zealand online stores secured over 50 percent growth per annum, being late to the online party combined with falling sales at bricks and mortar stores, rising rents and rising staff costs led to the business becoming uneconomical to continue trading.
McElhinney and Grenfell say that with new season orders having to be placed this week and lease agreements coming up for renewal, Ziera’s directors resolved to appoint administrators.
McElhinney says Ziera’s technology still holds real value:
“Ziera offers something unique in the women’s footwear market: stylish, quality shoes that have been orthopedically designed to be able to be worn all day in comfort. There is an incorrect perception that the shoes are only for mature women. The business rebranded from Kumfs to Ziera to appeal to a broader customer base, but the message about Ziera’s technology did not cut through. In our assessment, the technology has real value and we hope to find another footwear retailer to take on the Ziera mantle and continue to supply its loyal market, while bringing the comfortable fashion message to all women.”