Oliver Brown to exit voluntary administration

Oliver BrownStruggling cafe chain Oliver Brown will exit voluntary administration in coming weeks.

On Monday, the majority of creditors have voted to back the current management team, led by director Eric Song, to continue holding the reigns.

Song said he was humbled and thankful for the continued support of suppliers, creditors, staff and franchisees.

A new general manager, Ben Nash, has been appointed after consulting for the group over the last twelve months.

“Focusing on the end customer experience and value will allow us to better serve them,” Nash said, “which in turn will increase our spend per customer and retention and lead to better franchisee return which is a key priority for me.”

In recent weeks, Inside Retail spoke to many franchisees who described feeling like they have a gun to their heads over the future of the business, with Song leveraging the support of key creditors and Oliver Brown’s intellectual property holder to maintain control.

“If he’s put back in charge it will be a tragedy,” one franchisee said.

This feeling largely comes from the fact that the IP’s trademark holder, In Sook Kuen, would terminate the license agreement of the chain if anyone but Song’s proposal was accepted.

“The major concern is that we’ll end up in the same position in a few years,” said another franchisee.

The administrators, led by Tim Heesh, conceded the IP arrangement had made it difficult to attract potential buyers, though Inside Retail understands there were at least two parties interested in the business, even without its trademarks, that were largely ignored.

Both parties said they paid a $2000 fee to administrators to conduct due diligence into the business prior to an adjourned creditors meeting, but one said they were told that it was effectively too little too late to make a bid.

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