One of Australia’s oldest eco-friendly retailers has collapsed into administration, but Ecolateral CEO Jamie Stott is hopeful its flagship store could be revitalised under new ownership.
Taking to social media on Wednesday, Stott confirmed the decision to put Ecolateral into voluntary administration on Monday after an “incredibly challenging 12-month period” for the retailer.
Around a dozen staff across Ecolateral’s original Blackwood store and Magill, St Morris, and Adelaide CBD outlets have been laid off in the collapse.
The Ecolateral webstore is also offline. It now presents a message which says: “We’ve been trying to save the world but right now we have to take some time to focus on saving ourselves.”
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Founded in 1996 as the Waste Not Want Eco Shop, Ecolateral grew into one of the state’s premiere retailers of sustainable gifts, personal care products in a bulk refillable format, and other household goods.
In 2019 the company said it carried 3500 products spanning more than 200 suppliers.
Ecolateral even made a considerable expansion in 2021 with the addition of its Adelaide CBD store, nestled just off the main Rundle Mall shopping strip.
But the company was open about its financial struggles in the weeks leading to its collapse, and it was forced to close its Blackwood store at the start of December.
“As Australia’s longest-running eco store we’ve been nailing environmental sustainability for a long time,” the company told supporters on Instagram earlier this month.
“Where we are struggling right now is in the area of financial sustainability, and this has been the case for most of 2022.”
Clifton Hall’s Daniel Lopresti, who was appointed as voluntary administrator, told SmartCompany he is still assessing the precise circumstances leading to Ecolateral’s collapse.
However, he did confirm an interested party had considered acquiring the original Blackwood location prior to his appointment.
“We’ll obviously continue those discussions, and if an arrangement can be agreed, we’re certainly happy to try and facilitate a sale to at least keep that store operating,” he said.
Commenting generally on the growing eco-retailing market, Lopresti said some consumers are “prepared to pay a premium for sustainable products”, but rising interest rates and a souring economic outlook may push some households towards cheaper substitutes.
While the future of Ecolateral is uncertain, Stott encouraged supporters to continue supporting eco-friendly businesses.
“Keep striving to reduce your impact on the planet, always act with compassion and be an agitating force in the lives of the companies and governments that would choose greenwashing and unsustainable practices,” she said.