Aussie chain’s Australia Post battle
A collapsed Australian retailer claims it has been dealt a fresh "cruel blow" just days after entering voluntary administration.
Last week, it was revealed popular home furnishing store Ishka had appointed Rachel Burdett of Cor Cordis as administrator of the business following a catastrophic summer caused by the coronavirus outbreak, bushfire crisis and a crucial pre-Christmas delivery delay.
Now, owner Toby Darvall has claimed Australia Post has frozen the 50-year-old, family-owned business's postal account.
As a result, Mr Darvall said the delivery of more than 2000 online orders to customers was affected - and that the freeze put 60 jobs at "immediate risk".
After news of the collapse broke, Mr Darvall said customers had rallied around the chain and that the response had been "absolutely overwhelming", and that online sales had gone "through the roof".
But he said because of the freeze, those orders weren't being delivered.
"It's terrible, now all of those orders are just sitting there because Australia Post won't pick them up," he said.
"It means thousands of customers won't get their parcels and we will probably have to immediately lay off 60 staff.
"Australia Post really has a monopoly in the home delivery of online parcels and we have no other option but to send through Australia Post."
Mr Darvall said Ishka had been an Australia Post customer for more than five years and had even featured in a recent promotional corporate video for the body.
"Our loyal customers have really tried to help us, even bringing flowers and chocolates in to many of our stores to staff as they were concerned about their welfare. At this stage the future is very uncertain and we are just trying to save 500 jobs," he added.
Ishka is now offering to refund customers the Australia Post fee and give them an extra $10 voucher if they come and pick up their parcels in store.
"All we want to do is to continue to trade with Australia Post in exactly the same way we have for years. We even offered to pay for future services upfront but they won't accept it," Mr Darvall said.
"We don't want any extra favours. We're just fighting to stay alive and preserve jobs," he said.
"These days, Aussie retailers rely on a reliable and trustworthy delivery service to deliver their online orders. Without it we're stuffed."
But an Australia Post spokesman told news.com.au the organisation was working to resolve the issue.
"We have been working closely with the appointed administrator Cor Cordis on this matter, with the aim of returning to a normal credit relationship as soon as possible," the spokesman said.
"In the meantime, Ishka can continue to use Australia Post services on a pay as you go arrangement."
It is understood Ishka has a small outstanding account with Australia Post which predates the administration process, but Australia Post now wants to be paid upfront.
It is not uncommon for companies that enter administration to have conditions placed on them regarding credit.
It is also believed Ishka is able to continue distributing parcels as usual provided payment is provided upfront, and that customers have already been charged shipping costs.
The family-owned chain was founded 50 years ago and there are 60 stores across the country, including 15 in country areas, with more than 450 staff members on the payroll.
Ishka sells handmade crafts, homewares, gifts, clothing, furniture and jewellery from throughout the world, and was started in a small workshop in Glen Iris, Melbourne.