11 February 2024

Braddon day spa 'permanently closed' days after selling gift vouchers

| James Coleman
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Day spa building

A notice was pinned up to the door of the Adytum day spa last week. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

A Braddon day spa has “permanently closed” only weeks after it was selling gift vouchers and taking bookings, leaving customers with no idea if they’ll get their money back.

Adytum opened in late October 2021 within a 200-square-metre sanctum in the Branx Building on Lonsdale Street. It was the brainchild of Renée Douros.*

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In 2020, Renée launched a personal wellness brand under the name Adytum using a range of organic products.

The shopfront took this a step further with a full-service day spa, ‘mindfulness lounge’, bathhouse with traditional hot-rock sauna, Japanese Oak mineral bath, and a first for the city – a ‘cold pail shower’ – which pours a bucket of water directly onto you for a ‘waterfall effect’.

An ‘Elixir Bar’ served a range of herbal teas, cold-pressed juices, and other plant-based edibles, while the ‘Apothecary Lab’ offered organic candles, teas, soaks, oils and incense.

Day spa

The ‘Apothecary Lab’ at Adytum sold organic candles, soaks, teas and incense. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Last week, a note was stuck to the front door advising that “Adytum has ceased trading”, with enquiries to be directed to Worrells, an insolvency and turnaround practitioner.

All its social media pages have also been deleted and the website has been stripped of content save for a notice that Adytum is “permanently closed”.

“It is with sadness that we announce that Adytum is permanently closed,” it reads.

“A culmination of external factors have placed unsustainable financial pressure on the business, making it impossible to continue trade. These pressures include exorbitant rental rates, rising interest rates, increases in labour costs and ongoing skilled staff shortages, increases in supplier prices, a decline in consumer spending on leisure services and an overall downturn in trade.

“We wish to thank the Canberra community for their support of Adytum since opening our doors in October 2021 … This is a devastating outcome for all of us and we hope that our tranquil oasis can be reimagined and enjoyed by another small Canberra business, and their customers, in the not-too-distant future.”

Day spa

Inside the day spa. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

It’s sudden news from a company that, according to one anonymous member of the Canberra Reddit page, was continuing to sell gift vouchers as recently as two weeks ago.

Another anonymous customer tells Region she and her partner received a couples package voucher in 2021, but when they tried to book, that service was not available for 12 months.

“That date rolled around and then they cancelled due to not having staff available for the package because it was too long for them to do,” the customer says.

“They offered another date six to eight months later or offered us to come in two separate times to complete the package.”

Another customer tells Region she received “a voucher for my birthday a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to use it”.

“And now I’m not sure I’ll be able to use it.”

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According to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), “If you have a gift card from an insolvent company or paid them a deposit using a credit card, you may have chargeback rights”.

However, under ASIC’s rules on the order in which an insolvent business’s debts must be paid, consumers fall near the bottom in a category called ‘unsecured creditors’.

notice about business closing

Notice posted to the front door of Adytum. Photo: Canberra Reddit.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says, “Unsecured creditors are only repaid after secured creditors, such as the business’s bank and major suppliers, are repaid and after priority unsecured creditors, such as employees, are repaid.

“This means consumers may only get some of their money back or nothing at all.”

The ACCC says, “If you need to resolve a problem with an insolvent business, your first step is to contact the administrator to explain the problem”. If the administrator won’t help you, contact ASIC on 1300 300 630.

Renée Douros and Worrells were contacted for comment.

*Amended February 11, removing reference to Sugar Deli, The Floral Society and indoor plant delivery service ‘Planted’. These businesses have not been owned by Renee Douros for several years and have no connection to her.

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This is a re-play of Pialligo Estate closing its doors. The major difference between the two businesses being that PE was taking $5000 deposits shortly before closing its doors. One can rationalise the reasons why businesses go belly-up but taking money from prospective customers when the owners know the business is going down is the height of immorality and a despicable practice.

tiffany manning4:27 pm 15 Feb 24

We don’t know the full story and I do feel for the patrons left out in the cold – however, as a Canberra business owner I cannot express how challenging it is to run a small business at the moment. The landlord of that building is SAVAGE – they were possibly working until the very last moment trying to keep doors open – but the landlord ‘locked them out ‘ forcing them into liquidation. Once that happens, they can no longer trade. I find their explanation honest, very plausible and totally understandable. Have SOME compassion people.

Christina Heath11:29 pm 11 Feb 24

So disappointing. I got diagnosed with breast cancer in July 23. I was given two separate gift vouchers from family and friends totalling $400. I was hoping to use these vouchers once I finished my radiation treatment (March) as something to mark the end of a horrendous few months of treatment. Now seeing the business has been closed and I’m unable to now use these is absolutely devastating. And how they could still continue to sell vouchers even when they were going to be shutting their doors is beyond wrong.

Hi Christina can you please contact me as your situation has really upset me and id like to help you out. i am the landlord of that business not the owner and have nothing to do with the owner. nik – unit-co@bigpond.net.au

Caterina Pochi11:45 am 11 Feb 24

I am the current owner of The Suagr Deli and would like to advise readers that I purchased the business from Renee in late 2019 and operated it very successfully until 2022 when a personal health issue arose for myself and was unable to operate the business as effectively as in the past, this lead to me closing the business for now. I have had nothing to do with Renee since I purchased the business.

This interview didn’t age well… https://cbrin.com.au/women-in-innovation/where-are-they-now-renee-douros-founder-of-adytum/

Q: What advice would you (Renee) give yourself 5 years ago?

A: “Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Renee of five years ago would get herself very stressed over often the uncontrollable, yet inevitable issues that arise when owning and running businesses. I’ve since learnt that everything can be fixed and things usually work out in the end.”

Seems to be at odds with the reason for closing:

“a culmination of external factors have placed unsustainable financial pressure on the business, making it impossible to continue trade. These pressures include exorbitant rental rates, rising interest rates, increases in labour costs and ongoing skilled staff shortages, increases in supplier prices, a decline in consumer spending on leisure services and an overall downturn in trade”.

I guess her fix in this situation was the good old fashion take the money, blame everyone else and run manouvre!

She’ll be back. Wait a while, walk away from her debts, and then relaunch another cash-grabbing fad.

Gotta love a good entrepreneur.

Is it true that the former deputy PM was seen in Braddon on the phone to them after discovering they were unable to provide a late night cleanse?

Capital Retro12:52 pm 11 Feb 24

Dur, it’s a day spa so why would it be open at night?

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