University Co-Op’s will shutter its Curious Planet chain’s 63 stores over the next two months, after a sale campaign failed to tempt any viable offers.
While all staff have been made aware of the closures, and entitlements are expected to be met, administrators at PwC cannot confirm with any certainty the timing of staff payments.
The announcement comes almost two months after the Co-Op business entered voluntary administration, largely due to a large-scale decrease in over the counter textbook sales year over year.
“A number of discussions have been held, and are still ongoing with interested parties, however, no acceptable offer to purchase some or all of the Curious Planet store network has been forthcoming,” University Co-op administrator Andrew Scott said.
“While we remain open to offers from potential purchasers, we have no option at this time but to commence the orderly closure of the stores.”
According to Scott the closures will not impact the ongoing sale process for the Co-Op Bookshop business, which is at an advanced stage.
At the time of administration, Co-Op chairman Joe Merhi said the drop in textbook sales, combined with a weak pre-Christmas period, had left the business no alternative.
“The Co-Op, founded in 1958, has a proud history of serving its members which now number close to 2 million Australians, but the massive decline in the purchase of textbooks has meant that the board need to diligently and proactively address the potential risks of trading in the Christmas period,” Merhi said.
The SMH reported that the Co-Op owes more than $12 million to suppliers and publishers, and that in many cases these payments are months overdue.