Makers Mark Gallery news

13 07 2010

I’ve recently found that Makers Mark Gallery (in Melbourne) has entered voluntary administration (8th July 2010). On seeing this, I popped onto the ASIC website (as it is ‘PtyLtd’) to confirm – so while this is very new news, it is information in the public domain.

I tried to do a little research on what ‘voluntary administration’ means, and the best definition I found is here: ‘Voluntary Administration is a mechanism for companies in financial distress to obtain some breathing space from its creditors. … The purpose of this Act is to allow the company to avoid liquidation and to have the company administered in such a way that maximizes the chances of the company and its business continuing; or if it can’t continue, to allow a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders than would result from the liquidation of the company. 

A meeting of directors starts the process, and an Administrator is appointed. The first meeting of creditors is held within 5 days and a second meeting, to decide the company’s future, within 28 days.‘ Also, there’s an information sheet through the ASIC site (PDF).

This move is unfortunate for Makers Mark (particularly for the jewellers and other makers the gallery represents), but perhaps it cannot be seen as altogether unheard-of for a luxury goods retailer. Any company that relies on individuals’ (and corporates’) discretionary spend may certainly have had a difficult time with the ‘belt-tightening’ in the recent year or two.

Administration seems to me to be a sensible and responsible approach to maximise the chances it may be able to trade out of the current position, and hopefully into the future – though I guess that depends on the magnitude of the financial problem.

Looking at the gallery website today it looks like the first action is a 25-50% off sale, which I would interpret as intended to get some good immediate cash flow going and hopefully trade them out of trouble.

While naturally I wish the best for the gallery, for the sake of makers and also to keep a variety of choice for buyers/wearers of jewellery in Melbourne, what would the possible closing of the gallery (or any other major gallery/space) mean for makers in Melbourne (and Australia)?

It’s triggered a number of questions in my mind, some of which it is obviously too early to answer, though I wonder:

  • is there enough capacity in the remaining galleries and retail spaces to take on the pieces and makers currently represented by Makers Mark?
  • has the Melbourne market reached saturation?
  • could a closure represent a niche opportunity for a new player to enter? that is, is the market able to support the current number/types of galleries, and is this current situation more about the specifics of Makers Mark and their business practices, and not actually about the health of the market for jewellery and artisan objects?
  • what does it all mean for makers – if there are fewer places to sell their work, would that mean making tips over the threshold into no longer being viable for some?
  • also, I’m interested in how these situations actually resolve themselves from the perspective of the makers … what does it mean for those with work in the gallery?

What are your thoughts? Are you affected and can you share what this may mean for you?

I have only lived in Melbourne for just over seven years now, so do not know if something like this has happened before – can anyone tell me what happened that time if it’s not the first time?

[remember you can always leave a completely anonymous comment by using a fake name and email address for the comment input; or email me indicating exactly what information you’d like to share, and I can publish an update and keep the source confidential (no-one can make me say who told me things!)]


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13 responses

16 07 2010
Kevin Murray

Thanks for letting us know about this Karen. While it’s very sad for the jewellers who sold their work through Makers Mark, it seemed a long time since they offered creative opportunities for local makers. Perhaps its a lessen that to stay afloat you need to be innovative. It may be less to do with slowing of the economy and more about greater interest in authentic spaces for craft.

21 07 2010
Makers Mark update « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] 21 07 2010 An update on the earlier post, word on the street […]

24 07 2010
Jason

Not good for customers holding credits. We will also loose all or a proportion of that money. I recieved a letter from administrators today (24/7/10)

26 07 2010
Karen

Hi Jason
Thank you for the comment – I hadn’t considered this perspective, but that’s not good news at all. Does that mean customers cannot use credits in the current sale?

29 07 2010
Deb

Yes it does mean we cannot use credits, gift vouchers are not being honored either….I’m devastated…have lost a $650 deposit on a special order….no brooch, no money back….nothing….

29 07 2010
Karen

Deb, that’s awful!
Aren’t special orders and gift vouchers, and maybe even store credit, legal obligations/contracts they are required to uphold?
Can anyone tell me the legal stance here?

30 07 2010
Deb

It is awful but I’m afraid its all perfectly legal..just very, very unfair :(:(
One of lifes ‘David and Goliath’ things…big business and fancy, expensive administrators.. versus the little people.
Anyone with store credit or an outstanding gift voucher doesn’t have much hope I’m told. My special order might well be there ‘on sale’ in the current ‘fire sale’ :(:(

30 07 2010
Kerry

With regard to gift vouchers,etc. my experience is that you get to stand in the queue with all the other creditors.

For many years my husband has bought me jewellery at Makers Mark. It was like receiving art work that you can wear, original, local, special. But not so lately.

The last purchase just six months ago involved resizing. The work and turn around time from the maker was great, but for the first time, the customer service from Makers Mark left me stewing. We resolved to never go back.

I’m very sorry for people who had special orders and gift vouchers that won’t be honoured.

And yes I think Melbourne needs and can support a place for local artists to display and sell their work.

30 07 2010
Makers Mark is closing « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] see the previous stories (first and second) and the comments left –  it seems store credit, gift vouchers and special orders are […]

5 08 2010
Deb

I received more mail from them yesterday…
It’s infuriating that they are still spending money on glossy brouchers advertising the closing sale and mailing them out, quite possibly thousands of them…how many people would be on their mailing list??…surely these funds could be better spent paying creditors !!

Any maybe, just maybe people like me with outstanding orders and gift voucher might stand a chance of getting something 😦

5 08 2010
Karen

That is stupid! Why spend limited money on such things?!

I have noticed though that they seem to have decided to stop updating their website (at least that’s a saving?) – the main page doesn’t have the new advertisting, and interestingly the news page has removed the twitter link (funny)

25 08 2010
Edward

well people it is a trade of the past, not suprised they are not making any real dollars, just look at the places where they are, cost them a fotune in rent itself. sad to see they go, but it is the way the trade is facing. im a goldsmith myself, but have not made a hand made piece for a good 15 years! so went into jewellery sales, the same very hard to sell, and stupid people as customers, does not help much. so good luck to all.

9 05 2011
Former Head Jewellery Designer MM

It has been several years since I left Makers. As their Melbourne Jewellery Designer it was as much of an emotionally challenging experience as it was an honor to be in a position to design their precious stone collection for some time. I may have consulted wtih you myself! While I could focus on what did not work with in the company, I see that I had the opportunity to work along side some remarkable people and create simply spectacular pieces for clients, along with the collection which otherwise I may have never had the opportunity to. I some of my closest friends are wonderful jewellers and staff and suppliers. What I am sad about is that it deteriorated and its customers were left with such a bad experience, it was not at all what I stood for the time I was there. It is tragic that it came to this as I loved what it represented. It appears that for the very reason I left there myself two or so years ago – is that the life that it had and all it represented passed away along with Barbara Noble. I miss you Barb. xx Shaylee




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