Australian retail crisis deepens as Harris Scarfe falls into receivership

Long standing department store Harris Scarfe has become the latest Australia retail giant to collapse into receivership, despite being acquired by private equity firm Allegro Funds only last month.

The retailer, which traces its beginnings back to a single store opened in Adelaide in 1849, has 66 stores across the nation and employs more than 1,800 staff with annual sales of AUS$380 million.

Receivers Deloitte Restructuring Services said the business will trade as normal over the Christmas period, with staff continuing to be paid and gift cards and lay-bys honoured.

“The receivers intend to achieve a sale of the business as a going concern and preserve the employment of as many people as possible,” said Deloitte partner Vaughan Strawbridge.

“Harris Scarfe is a longstanding retail institution. We will be making every effort to secure a future for the business and intend to commence an immediate sale-of-business process,” he added.

Harris Scarfe is the latest addition to a lengthening list of retailers that have collapsed in the midst of the most severe downturn in the sector since the global financial crisis. Other high profile casualties include Karen Millen, Shoes of Prey and Bardot.