Staff were told late on Wednesday the companies behind the brands had been placed in voluntary administration and a hunt for a buyer was underway.
About 1130 staff are employed by Marcs and David Lawrence in Australia, with another 42 in New Zealand.
Their 52 retail stores, 11 outlets and 140 concession stores will remain open while administrator Rodgers Reidy undertakes a review of their businesses and tries to find a buyer.
“It’s business as usual,” a spokesman for the administrator told AAP on Thursday.
The sole director of the companies operating the labels, Malcolm Webster, blamed deteriorating sales, poor cash flow and market conditions for hurting the fashion brands.
David Lawrence and Marcs employees will hear more about their futures from their managers, while customer gift cards and returns will be honoured as normal, the administrator said.
“We intend to review the operations of the businesses and continue to trade while we market the businesses for sale,” said Geoffrey Reidy, who along with Andrew Barnden, directors of Rodgers Reidy, have been appointed as voluntary administrators to M. Webster Holdings and Webster Asset, while Barnden and Paul Vlasic, a director at Rodgers Reidy’s Auckland office, were appointed as administrators to M. Webster Holdings (NZ) Limited.
The fashion brands have told the administrator all employee wages were paid until January 30, 2017.
Webster’s Sydney-based company M Webster Holdings bought David Lawrence from Truworth Ltd South Africa Group in 2000 and four years later took the womenswear brand to New Zealand.
In 2006, Webster Holdings bought womenswear and menswear label Marcs from upmarket retailer Oroton.
The Webster Holdings website says the company was working to expand the number of David Lawrence standalone stores and department store concessions, as well expand into “other territories”.
Webster has long been involved in the retail world, having co-founded British fashion label Jigsaw with John Robinson in 1972.
Webster brought Jigsaw to Australia in the early 1990s but the label’s UK parent company took back control of the business in 2016.
Fears about the future of David Lawrence and Marcs comes two months after fellow Australian retailers Payless Shoes and Howards Storage World appointed administrators.
Children’s retailer Pumpkin Patch also entered receivership last October.
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