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Administrator confirms Rundle Mall Harris Scarfe to close after 170 years


UPDATED | Adelaide-founded department store Harris Scarfe will close its Rundle Mall store next month after 170 years trading, among 20 other stores set to shut across the country, the company’s administrators confirmed this afternoon.

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A spokesperson for Deloitte Australia, whose subsidiary Deloitte Restructuring Services is handling the administration of the struggling company, confirmed this afternoon that the stores are to be closed.

The Rundle Mall store has 69 employees, including 13 full-time staff, 21 part-time and 35 casuals.

The spokesperson said the store was among 21 to close around the country over the next four weeks.

All eight of the other South Australian Harris Scarfe’s will continue to trade.

Receiver and Deloitte Restructuring Services partner Vaughan Strawbridge said the closures were a difficult but necessary decision.

“We have continued to trade the business since our appointment, and this has been well supported by loyal employees and customers, so this has been a difficult decision, but one necessary to position the Harris Scarfe business for a successful sale and continued operation,” he said.

“All efforts are being made to redeploy affected staff around the rest of the store network, and all staff that leave the business will receive all wages and entitlements in full on the closure of individual stores.

“Our review of the store network included a range of factors, including past and likely future profitability.”

He said the best outcome for remaining employees would be to sell the business.

Retail workers’ union the SDA released a statement this morning saying it was deeply saddened by the impending closure of the store, blaming “decisions of the past”.

The union said staff had been told today that the store is to close – along with the 20 other Harris Scarfe stores across the country.

Deloitte Restructuring Services was appointed in December as administrators for Harris Scarfe, founded in 1849, which employs around 1800 staff across more than 60 stores nationally.

“This closure is the result of poor decision making that has driven its flagship store into an unprofitable position over the past 15 years,” union secretary Josh Peak said in a statement.

“It is clear now the redevelopment of the site has been an unmitigated disaster for Harris Scarfe.

“Unfortunately, the ones who have to pay the price for these poor decisions are not the decision makers, but the retail employees – and the families they support – who will find themselves out of a job this year.”

Peak described the decision as a “huge loss for our state”.

“The SDA’s top priority is to ensure that all entitlements are honoured and paid out to all employees who will be out of a job next month.”

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