Bag maker Crumpler collapses as pandemic lockdowns ravage retail

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Popular bag maker Crumpler has collapsed into administration one year after celebrating its 25th anniversary, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking more havoc on the country’s retailers.

Notices published by corporate regulator ASIC on Thursday showed insolvency firm PKF was appointed administrator of the trendy bag manufacturer, which is headquartered on Melbourne’s busy Russell Street.

Crumpler’s first bag was designed to make it easier to carry a beer slab home on your bike.

Crumpler was founded in 1995 by Dave Roper, Will Miller and Stuart Crumpler, originally selling messenger bags designed to make it easier to ferry a slab of beer home on your bike. Over the years, the company became a popular brand, especially among younger shoppers, gaining notoriety for its bright colours and compact designs.

In 2014, private equity firm Crescent Capital Partners took a majority stake in the business, buying out two of the original founders and spurring on a round of international expansion, with the business launching across Asia, the US and Europe.

The collapse comes a year after Crumpler itself saved fellow struggling swimwear retailer Tigerlily from administration, purchasing the brand last July with a view to return it to its roots. Crescent Capital was also the owner of Tigerlily.

Reasons behind Crumpler’s collapse are not known, however, the business’ report for the 2019 financial year reveals the company has been unprofitable for some time, racking up more than $8 million in annual losses in both the 2018 and 2019 financial years.

In the report, Crumpler also detailed the impact of the pandemic on the company, saying COVID-19 had caused disruption at the business through 2020, though sales had seen a “strong uplift” through Australia’s initial lockdown. The business also received JobKeeper support, along with rent relief.

However, with the current lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne dragging on and no JobKeeper around this time, the retailer may not have experienced the same uplift in sales this time around. Many major retailers have recently reported depressed sales during July and August due to the strict lockdown measures in the country’s two largest states.

COVID-19 has caused a number of collapses at prominent retailers over the past 18 months, including names such as Seafolly, PAS Group, Aussie Disposals and G-Star.

Crumpler, PKF and Crescent have been contacted for comment.

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