Co-op Enters Voluntary Administration

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By Published On: November 26, 20190 Comments

The Co-op Bookshop, Australia's largest academic and non-profit book retailer, has entered voluntary administration. The decision comes after falling sales and the collapse of 'over the counter' textbooks lead to the decision made on Sunday night. 

The Key Points:

  • Co-op Bookshop has entered voluntary administration
  • The company owes $15 million to sellers and publishers
  • Its acquired company, Curious Planet, hangs in the balance

“The combination of weak retail trading figures coming up to Christmas and the collapse of ‘over the counter textbook’ sales by over 40 per cent from last year, has left the board with no alternative but to appoint a voluntary administrator to help this proud organisation through this period of time,” explained Joe Merhi, the Co-op Chairman.

Currently, Co-op Bookshop has 34 stores across Australian university campuses and hires approximately 180 people. Moreover, it works with over 300 suppliers. Previously known as Australian Geographic, the fate of Curious Planet remains unknown. Considered one of the most ‘iconic’ Australian retailers, it was home to scientific experiments, souvenirs and other Australian-themed products.

In 2016, Co-op acquired all Australian Geographic stores, founded by Dick Smith in 1992. Since then, it went through a series of transformations, including two name changes in the span of two months. In October 2019, it was changed to My Geographic, but due to licensing issues, was changed again to Curious Planet. As of 2016, there were 66 of these stores throughout Australia.

“We intend to keep all Co-op bookshop and Curious Planet stores operating on a business as usual basis while we seek interested parties for the sale of the business on a going concern basis,” said Phil Carter, one of the administrators. “We are currently undertaking an urgent review of the business in order to stabilise its relationships with key stakeholders and ensure that the store network enjoys a successful Christmas trading period.”

“The Co-op, founded in 1958 has a proud history of serving its members which now number close to two 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,” said Mr Merhi.

The Co-op currently owes $15 million to its suppliers and booksellers. According to SMH, one supplier, John Wiley & Sons, was owed more than $1 million, and 26 suppliers were owed more than $100,000 each.

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