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Harris Scarfe Saved From Collapse By Spotlight

Failed retail department store Harris Scarfe is reportedly set to make a comeback with speculation home fittings store Spotlight is lining up to acquire the business.

Harris Scarfe entered receivership last December after a challenging year for Australian retailers in a competitive sales environment, with stores struggling with low customer traffic and weak trade.

In a push to preserve the well-known brand, 21 stores were closed nationally in early January as receivers at Deloitte sought to find a buyer.

Harris Scarfe signage is seen in Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AAP Image/Kelly Barnes)

In late February, four contenders for the acquisition and its remaining 44 stores were revealed, including two private equity firms, Momentum and Alceon. Rumours later emerged that former Australian businesswoman Jan Cameron was eyeing the takeover as well.

However, a statement this morning revealing Spotlight Group had been granted exclusivity to purchase the business. Owned by rich listers Zac Fried and Morry Fraid, Spotlight Group has stores in both Australia and New Zealand. The Spotlight Group also owns Anaconda and Mountain Brands in its portfolio.

Deloitte said the exclusivity was granted following a thorough due diligence process that involved the shortlisting of the four interested parties, revealing Spotlight was ‘ideally suited’ to ensuring the future business growth for Harris Scarfe.

Harris Scarfe signage is seen in Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AAP Image/Kelly Barnes)

The transaction is yet to be locked in and will require further work between Spotlight and Deloitte, said receiver Vaughan Strawbridge in a statement.

A finalised settlement between Deloitte and Spotlight could be completed as early as mid-April.

‘There is still a lot of work we need to do together to finalise the transaction and we will be working with the Spotlight Group and the Harris Scarfe leadership team to make this happen,’ he said.

‘We are hopeful all of the 44 stores will be retained under the sale but ultimately, this will be dependent on how the transaction progresses over the next couple of weeks.’

A general view of the logo for Deloitte. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)

With a total of 1,300 staff still being employed by Harris Scarfe, Deloitte is working to ensure their ongoing employment.

It comes after Harris Scarfe was the first business to fall in a long line of retail collapses through the holiday period, with retailers Jeans West, Bose, EB Games and Colette all either raising the white flag or closing stores across the nation.

So far, only Harris Scarfe and Jeans West have managed to find a new buyer.

Harris Scarfe signage is seen in Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AAP Image/Kelly Barnes)

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