Sambag becomes latest retail casualty

SambagApparel and accessories brand Sambag will become the latest casualty of discretionary retail conditions, announcing it will shut down operations in the coming months after more than 22 years of trading.

The retailer’s three locations in Woolhahra and Rosebury in NSW and Indooroopilly in Queensland will close, alongside its online store.

Sambag’s founder and design director Sam Wagner has blamed “greedy” landlords, competitive retail conditions and fast-changing shopping habits for the demise of the business.

“[Retail] is not like it used to be, and I’ve been in it a long time,” she told Inside Retail.

“It’s a very competitive market and I’ve decided it’s too hard to compete anymore.

“Landlords are greedy, charging exorbitant rents in a really tough environment, chewing up any bit of money we could even think about using for marketing,” she said.

Sambag started as a stall in Sydney’s Paddington market, opening its first standalone store in 2005.

Wagner said she’s open to offers to purchase the company’s assets but is not actively pursuing a buyer.

Sambag is the latest in a long line of retail collapses in recent months, particularly in the beleaguered clothing, accessories and footwear category amid pressures on discretionary spending.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessories spending fell by 0.7 per cent in January, growing by just .4 per cent year-on-year, according to ABS data.

Research released yesterday by SV Partners found that nearly 1,500 retail businesses across the country are currently at risk of collapse due to increasingly intense competitive pressures.

Sambag had considered keeping its more profitable online operations open, but Wagner ultimately decided to close completely in recognition of intensifying online competition from players like Zara, who this week launched its own local online store.

The business will wind-down over several months, selling its remaining stock, negotiating lease exits with landlords and agreeing to severance packages with its employees.

As for Wagner, she said she has yet to decide what her next step will be but has warned others dealing with the current retail trading environment to develop an exit plan.

“Look at your exit plan at the beginning, and tread carefully with bricks-and-mortar,” Wagner warned.

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