The collapsed childrenswear chain Pumpkin Patch will shut its doors within weeks after receivers failed to find a buyer for the company.
Receivers KordaMentha have announced that 68 Pumpkin Patch and Charlie & Me stores across Australia and New Zealand will close by the end of January, costing 560 people their jobs. Pumpkin Patch's remaining 56 stores will close as and when stock is sold, through to mid-February.
KordaMentha partner Neale Jackson said it was too early to say which of the remaining stores would be the last to close, nor how much money would be recouped for creditors from the clearance sales.
"We have successfully traded stores through the traditional holiday period and stock levels are now considerably reduced," Mr Jackson said. "The balance of stock will be consolidated in the remaining stores as the receivership enters its final phase."
"We will continue to announce store closures on a weekly basis."
An additional 104 people will lose their jobs at the Pumpkin Patch head office.
After years of losses and dwindling sales, and being squeezed by discount department stores such as Kmart and middle-of-the-range brand Bonds, New Zealand-based Pumpkin Patch collapsed in late 2016 owing $76 million.
It employed about 1000 people in Australia at its 117 stores, plus close to 600 people in New Zealand across its 43 stores.
Pumpkin Patch's Facebook site shows both praise and criticism.
"I LOOOVE your store. I dressed both of my kids with Pumpkin Patch. Always such beautiful and magical designs," one person wrote. "Always shopped there for my grandchildren until they were 5 yrs old when somehow PP designs changed so much I no longer liked their clothing. So sad when that happens," wrote another.
Pumpkin Patch's second-biggest shareholder was Jan Cameron, the co-founder of NZ adventure-wear retailer Kathmandu.