Borders Australia closures sees 500 jobs lost

CHRIS ZAPPONE
Last updated 08:27 07/04/2011

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Administrators have announced the closure of 16 more Borders bookshops in Australia, adding to the one Borders and 48 Angus & Robertson's locations already shut in the aftermath of parent company REDgroup's collapse.

The closures, to happen over the next eight weeks, will see 310 permanent and 200 casual staff lose their jobs, administrator Ferrier Hodgson said tonight. It will leave REDgroup with nine Borders and 67 Angus & Robertson stores in Australia.

"Through these progressive restructures we are moving the business towards a more sustainable model,"  administrator Steve Sherman said.

"It is my hope that the resulting business is able to stand on its own two feet as well as being more attractive to any potential buyer," he said.

The closures of Borders stores will affect locations in Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Parramatta  and South Yarra among others.

Ferrier Hodgson said the remaining Borders and Angus & Robertson's bookstores had "maximised the opportunities for either a sale or restructure of the business - both of these options are currently being examined".

Administrators also said 10 REDgroup bookstores in New Zealand's airports trading under the Whitcoulls banner had been sold to the Australia-based travel retail specialist LS Travel Retail Pacific, formerly known as Lagardère Services Asia Pacific for an undisclosed price.

New Zealand will maintain a total of 87 Borders and Whitcoulls locations.

REDgroup Retail was placed into administration by majority owners Pacific Equity Partners in mid-February, after struggling under A$118 million in debt owed to secured debtors, increased competition from the internet, and a general decline in traditional retail sales.

When the company fell into administration it had 280 stores in Australia and New Zealand and employed 2500 people through the Borders, Angus & Robertson's and Whitcoulls stores, and two other brands.

The turmoil surrounding the decline of REDgroup accelerated yesterday when 25 Angus & Robertson franchised stores severed their franchise agreements with the parent to protest the handling of the firm's slide into administration.

The group of booksellers was upset over the treatment of gift vouchers which initially required customers to spend one dollar for every dollar of credit redeemed. Ferrier Hodgson then said gift vouchers would no longer be accepted after April 3.

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"The franchisees have exercised their right to terminate as a result of Angus & Robertson's continued breach of the franchise agreement," said Marie Fitzpatrick owner of NSW-based The Bookshop Bowral - formerly known as Angus & Robertson Bowral.

- BusinessDay.com.au

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