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Max Brenner rescue goes awry

The sale of embattled chocolate chain Max Brenner to investment company Tozer & Co has fallen through, according to liquidators BDO Australia.

Just yesterday, the franchise business’s collapse appeared to be staved off through a last-minute acquisition by family investment firm Tozer & Co.

The deal would have seen Tozer & Co take control of Max Brenner’s Australian franchise licence, which was reportedly terminated by the Israeli franchisor on Wednesday.

In a statement, which has since been removed from BDO’s website, Tozer & Co managing director David Tozer said the family office was excited to restructure the brand’s operations and stabilise the once-profitable franchise chain.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to acquire Max Brenner in Australia. In conjunction with the franchisor, we are excited by the prospect of investing, growing and developing a highly successful business.  The brand has a rich history across the world and also within Australia,” he said.

But on Friday, BDO said it has not entered into a transaction with Tozer & Co at this time, though the liquidators acknowledged that they explored a transaction with the investment firm relating to the trading of the business and the acquisition of Max Brenner in Australia.

“We will continue to trade the company whilst we explore options with the licensor, Max Brenner Industries Ltd, regarding the Max Brenner brand in Australia. Today it is business as usual,” said BDO’s Andrew Sallway.

Max Brenner entered voluntary administration earlier this month, citing rising prices and tightening retail trading conditions as key factors, and promptly closed more than half of its stores.

Some 250 of Max Brenner’s 600 employees were affected by the closure of 20 of the brand’s 37 outlets.

The Australian incarnation of the Israeli franchise model has existed in Australia since 1999, spearheaded by BRW Young Rich Listers Tom and Lilly Haikin.

Additional reporting by Nick Hall.

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