Ishka makes “heartbreaking” decision to enter voluntary administration

Ishka owner Toby Darvall is pleading with customers to show their support for the family-owned retail chain known for selling hand-made crafts, homewares, gifts, clothing, furniture and jewellery, which entered voluntary administration on Wednesday.

“We are working day and night to save Ishka – but we need your help too,” Darvall wrote in a mass email to members of the Karma Club, Ishka’s loyalty program.

“Our biggest sale ever will commence immediately,” he wrote. “Please remain part of our tribe as we do everything to save our wonderful brand – keep shopping and tell all of your friends to please shop too.”

Founded almost 50 years in Melbourne, Ishka has 60 stores and over 450 employees. But after an unusually challenging summer period, paired with more than $3 million worth of Christmas stock delayed on the wharves, the business is now on the brink of failure.

“After a catastrophic Christmas and summer we realised everything wasn’t right so we’ve been flat out working on solutions to protect staff, suppliers, landlords and creditors,” Darvall said in a statement about the administration.

“We’ve done everything and explored every option we could to save the business and we are working very closely with our bank. This is a heartbreaking decision to make.”

Rachel Burdett of Cor Cordis has been appointed administrator of the business and plans to convene a meeting of creditors within a week.

At this stage, all stores remain open, and the retailer is banking on a strong turnout from customers as it slashes prices on all stock.

Darvall noted that Ishka sources many of its products from artists, craftsmen and makers in developing communities around the world, making the potential closure especially disappointing.

“We want our staff, our makers and our suppliers to know we are here to help and support them,” Darvall said.

“We know the ripple effect an event like this can have on hundreds of families and communities involved in the company.”

Darvall said that all staff, makers and suppliers would be paid regardless of the outcome.


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