Kikki.K appoints voluntary administrators amid ‘perfect storm’

Australian-born stationery business Kikki.K has been placed in voluntary administration, leaving the fate of 450 employees and 65 stores uncertain.

In Asia, Kikki.K has stores in Hong Kong and Singapore and it sells online.

CEO Paul Lacy said the business had been caught in a perfect storm – feeling the impact of Brexit in the UK, the Hong Kong protests in its Asian arm, the bushfires in Australia and the global coronavirus crisis.

“This unprecedented line-up of external events, particularly in recent weeks, has really taken its toll,” Lacy said. 

“As we looked ahead we just didn’t have the certainty we could keep going so we have had to take this decision.”

The business appointed Jim Downey of J.P. Downey & Co as administrator, and Cor Cordis’s Barry Wight and Bruno Secatore as receivers.

For the time being the business will continue to run as usual while its future is determined – with founder Kristina Karlsson hoping to find a new home and partner for the brand. 

“The last few weeks have been some of the most challenging of our lives but we remain determined to find the right new partner to continue chasing our dream, so we can get back on track for all the people including our wonderful team who rely in some way on this beautiful brand,” Karlsson said. 

According to Wight, administrators are now urgently working with management to plan a restructure of the business, while investigating potential sale options. 

“Kikki.K has unfortunately joined what has now become a long list of financially distressed retailers, given softening consumer spending, high leasing costs, compounded by a disappointing December and January trading period,” Wight said.

At its peak the business traded across 100 global stores, though the impact of a disastrous international expansion to the UK and the continued spectre of low consumer confidence took its toll. 

According to The General Store partner and CEO Matt Newell retailers can struggle with juggling the difficulties of a global expansion alongside keeping their offer fresh and exciting for existing customers.

“Kikki.K were executing a pretty ambitious global expansion program which would have sucked out a lot of the capital required to weather difficult trading conditions,” Newell told Inside Retail Australia.

“You have to admire what Kikki.K created since it launched in the 1990s. It totally redefined customer expectations in the stationery category and grew a global brand that retailed in 140 countries worldwide.”

Additional reporting by Jo-Anne Hui-Miller.

This story first appeared on our sister site Inside Retail Australia.

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