National food and groceries home-delivery network Aussie Farmers Direct closed on March 5, affecting about 100 franchisees, 260 employees and 100,000 customers around the country.
Craig Shepard and Leanne Chesser of KordaMentha Restructuring were appointed voluntary administrators of Bed Milk & Bread (trading as Aussie Farmers Direct).
Mr Shepard says Aussie Farmers Direct attempted to recapitalise the business, find a strategic partner, or sell the business, but that these attempts failed to find a solution to safeguard the company’s future.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to continue trading and the business will stop operating immediately,” he said.
Aussie Farmers Direct began 13 years ago as a home-delivery service for fresh milk, cheese, bread and juice in Victoria. Over the next five years it expanded to NSW, Queensland, WA, South Australia and the ACT. By 2010, it had been named by Business Review Weekly as the fastest-growing franchise in Australia. It then introduced organics to its range of local produce. Two years ago, it challenged the supermarkets by offering thousands of grocery items.
Mr Shepard says the company struggled to compete with the big supermarkets in a tough retail environment exacerbated by low wage growth. Directors said they believed their ability to sell local products was hampered by the promotion of low-cost imported products sold by their opposition.
A message on the Aussie Farmers Direct website reads: “We love you, goodbye.
“From the team at Aussie Farmers Direct, thank you for your support, we love you all, and we are so sorry to be going away.
“Eat well, love your family, look after your friends. Remember that dreams are fragile, and we all need each other.”
According to KordaMentha, one part of the business, Home Delivery Services (HDS), will continue to trade and is not affected by the administration. HDS is a logistics outfit that provides last-mile delivery services.