Max Brenner Australia in voluntary administration

Chocolate chain Max Brenner Australia has collapsed into voluntary administration.

The directors appointed McGrathNicol as administrator on 30 September in an effort to combat the escalating prices and tighter retail trading conditions the business faces.

McGrathNicol has said it is “business as usual” for all stores while the administrator undertakes a review of the business.

Right now the chain headquartered in Alexandria, Sydney, comprises 15 outlets in New South Wales, five stores in Melbourne, 12 outlets in Queensland, two in the ACT, two in Western Australia, and one each in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

There are about 600 staff on its books.

In a statement McGrathNicol said it is working closely with the existing management team. “We are assessing the prospects of completing a going concern sale of the business or a recapitalisation through the Voluntary Administration process.”

McGrathNicol handled the restructuring of the embattled Red Lea Group and negotiated a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA).

Max Brenner joins a list of franchised outlets that have used the DOCA to restructure, most recently SumoSalad.

The chocolate chain was founded in Israel by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, who combined their names to create the brand.  It launched in Australia in 1999 when the first cafe was opened in Paddington, Sydney by husband and wife team Tom and Lilly Haikin, who own the rights for Australia.

Their subsequent success with the brand helped deliver them a $40m fortune in 2013 which secured them a spot in that year’s BRW’s Young Rich List. Earlier this year SmartCompany cited Lilly Haikin as a top female entrepreneur sharing a joint revenue of $50m.

In January 2018 Max Brenner Australia announced its intention for further expansion across the country and possibly the APAC region.

The global business was acquired from the founders in 2001 by major Israeli food firm, the Strauss Group, and is now in Japan, the Phillippines, Singapore and the US.