Bidders offer a potential lifeline for Godfreys

Vacuum cleaner retailer Godfreys is hopeful of survival

Vacuum cleaner retailer Godfreys is hopeful of survival, with the group’s administrator indicating that “multiple leading retail brands and investment groups” are in the running to rescue the famous business.

On January 30, administrator PwC advised that the Godfreys Group and its subsidiaries in Australia and New Zealand had entered voluntary administration, citing falling consumer confidence, high inflation and cost-of-living pressures, as well as business disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in 1931, Godfreys established itself as one of the world’s largest vacuum cleaner retailers, and a major Australian and New Zealand supplier of specialty commercial floor-care and associated cleaning products. The business had been operating more than 100 stores and employed in excess of 600 staff across Australia and New Zealand.

On February 22, PwC updated the market via a media release, advising that the “process of identifying a potential purchaser of the business is advancing strongly ahead of the deadline for indicative offers”, with the cut-off date set for late February.

“The strong interest from potential acquirers of the restructured business is a testament to the enduring Godfreys brand, the loyalty of the customer base and the performance of the Godfreys team across 113 stores in Australia and New Zealand that continue to trade,” said PwC Australia partner Craig Crosbie. “As the cut-off for indicative bids looms, we are encouraged by the appetite among blue-chip retailers and investors to take the business forward. The quality and volume of interested parties have exceeded expectations, and we will move confidently towards evaluating the most viable offers.”

Following its appointment, PwC sought to sell the business while also initiating a restructure that included the closure of more than 50 of the group’s stores in Australia and New Zealand.

Godfreys launched more than 90 years ago, with owner Godfrey Cohen targeting a door-to-door sales strategy. Private equity groups Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital paid $300 million for Godfreys in 2006, but exited the investment during the global financial crisis.

After another buyout, Godfreys was listed on the ASX for four years before again entering private hands about six years ago.

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