One of Canberra’s most colourful start-up stores has entered voluntary administration.
POP Canberra, located at 27 Lonsdale Street in Braddon, only opened during the COVID lockdown in 2020; however, it has strong ties to the city as a physical place for small local producers of everything from art and jewellery to homewares, gifts and food, wine and spirits to sell their wares.
“Everything we stock is made by someone in Canberra,” POP co-founder Gabe Trew said at the store’s opening in 2020.
“We showcase Canberra artists and makers through their products, and we exist to support the local small-business community.”
Mr Trew said “legacy problems” from the pandemic have now caught up with them.
Mr Trew told Region today (13 April) that the company was “just starting to go through the process of restructuring the business”.
“The pandemic posed some pretty hefty challenges, with multiple months of lockdown and no trade, but during that time, I tried to really believe in the vision.”
Fabian Micheletto and Michael Carrafa from advisory firm SV Partners were appointed as administrators for the business on 5 April.
Documents lodged with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) reveal POP owes about $1 million to 13 creditors.
The administrators will explore a range of options for the business, including a deed of company arrangement (DOCA) where the creditors and business owners agree on a way to settle the company’s debts. Other options may include selling the business or liquidation.
The first meeting with the creditors will be held on 19 April in Melbourne.
For now, however, it’s business as usual.
“We are open and trading as we always have been,” Mr Trew said.
“We’ve assured our local producers that their goods are safe and we are still able to sell them.”
Mr Trew remain uncertain of the future as they work with their legal advisers and the administrators, but are optimistic POP will come back stronger.
“We really want to continue being what we are to the local economy,” Mr Trew said.
“It’s been a big journey, and it would be a really positive outcome to show people you can face adversity, stick at it and get through it.”
POP remains open from 10 am to 6 pm from Monday to Wednesday, 10 am to 9 pm from Thursday to Friday, 9 am to 9 pm on Saturday and 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday.
ASIC data shows insolvencies are on the rise in Australia with 5147 companies entering external administration during the current financial year to mid-March. This compares to 4912 across the entire 2021-2022 financial year.
In Canberra, POP follows major construction company PBS Building and eatery Pialligo Estate in entering voluntary administration in the past month alone.