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Wallace Bishop Jewellers has lost more than $15 million in the past two years.
Wallace Bishop Jewellers has lost more than $15 million in the past two years.

Iconic Australian jewellery chain at risk of collapse

Auditors have warned that Wallace Bishop Jewellers is in danger of collapsing after recording losses of more than $15 million over the past two years.

The report, conducted by Brisbane-based accounting firm Merrotts, stated that there was a ‘material uncertainty’ that the 103-year-old business could continue as a going concern if it is not able to increase sales, reduce overheads and receive financial support from its parent company, Athena Pty Ltd.

Wallace Bishop Jr, chairman Wallace Bishop Jewellers
Wallace Bishop Jr, chairman Wallace Bishop Jewellers
"Today’s climate is very difficult for us… This is probably the toughest period we have gone through"
Wallace Bishop Jr, Wallace Bishop Jewellers

Wallace Bishop operates 50 stores throughout NSW and Queensland; its revenue fell 5.3 per cent in 2019, to $66.05 million. It was recently forced to close its Toombul location – which had operated for more than 50 years – following a devastating ram-raid. Another store, in Kippa-Ring, closed when its lease expired.

More than 500 jobs could be at risk if the chain were to collapse.

Wallace Bishop Jr, chairman Wallace Bishop Jewellers, previously said the retail downturn had a significant impact on sales: “Today’s climate is very difficult for us. People are looking after their money and are looking for value. This is probably the toughest period we have gone through.”

The Australian retail industry has seen many high-profile businesses collapse in the past year, including Harris Scarfe, Jeanswest, Bardot, and EB Games.

Jewellery and accessories retailer Colette By Colette Hayman, which operated 140 stores in Australia and New Zealand, went into voluntary administration at the end of January.

However, Wallace Bishop CEO Stuart Bishop – the great-grandson of founder Wallace Bishop – was confident the business could overcome the challenges and had met its sales targets for the critical Christmas period.

He told The Courier-Mail, “Wallace Bishop [Jewellery] continually reviews its store footprint as demographics and retail trends change,” adding that it was “continually considering opportunities for new geographic and store locations.”

Bishop stated that new store designs and a greater investment in e-commerce were key priorities for the business, and a “considerable increase” in online sales had already occurred.

Wallace Bishop, a British-born goldsmith, founded his namesake store in Brisbane in 1917. The business acquired Australia’s oldest jeweller, Hardy Brothers Jewellers, in 1997. Hardy Brothers operates five stores in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast.

 

More reading:
Fashion jewellery chain is latest retail casualty
Michael Hill looks for turnaround, introduces lab-grown diamonds
Wallace Bishop Jewellery celebrates 100 years











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