Iconic Australian Brand to Close 250 Stores

By mid-2021, the retail company owned by Noni B, Katies, Millers and Rivers is shutting a further 250 shops, accusing landlords of shopping centres for not offering adequate rent relief as it deals with the effect of COVID-19.

In August, Mosaic Brands, which also owns Rockmans and Crossroads, said it was renegotiating leases in negotiations with landlords but also expected to eventually close up to 500 of its 1300-plus store portfolio nationwide within the next year or two.

“Since August we have closed 73 stores in response to unrealistic rental requests and a permanent shift towards online purchases,” chief executive Scott Evans said on Thursday.

“We’re encouraged that a number of landlords have in recent weeks come to the table on rental reductions but not all have and we expect up to a further 250 store closures by June 2021.”

He said the pandemic had forced a large number of the brands’ five million-plus in-store customers into hibernation over the past eight months and it had been Mosaic’s toughest year.

“We’ve found ourselves in an unfamiliar position, for any retailer, where our customers have wanted to visit our stores but couldn’t – and we’re saying by and large that’s been for the best,” Mr Facioni said.

“The loss of that opportunity to have a chat or get out of the house has been incredibly hard for both our customers and our frontline retail team during months of lockdowns and restrictions, particularly in Victoria where many stores remain closed until just yesterday.”

“With most restrictions/lockdowns now lifted we are confident those customers will stir from that hibernation and resume visiting our loyalty brands,” Mr Facioni said.

“Exactly when they will have the confidence to return in-store is still unknown.”

In its annual report, Mosaic’s said that 41 percent of its store leases were on hold or terminated by December, with 87 percent expiring over the next 24 months.

Last financial year, Mosaic reported a record $170.3 million net loss.

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