Australia: Norton Rose Fulbright successfully completes the sale of Howards Storage World
Last Updated: 24 March 2017

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte), the administrators of Howards Storage World (HSW), a specialty home and organisation retail chain and franchise network that specialises in space saving and organisational products for the home and office.

The business was sold to specialty retailers My Home Storage / Store Trade, led locally in Australia by Enayatolla Ghiasi.

This sale allowed approximately 80 per cent of HSW group's store network to continue trading and has also resulted in approximately 160 jobs being retained.

HSW originated in Australia as a single store called "Stack and Store" in the Sydney suburb of Northbridge in the early 1970s, owned and operated by Les and Edda Howard. A partnership was formed with Dirk Spence in 1997 after establishing the Australia wide market potential to roll out the concept through franchising. The first franchise store opened in 1998 and since then, HSW has experienced rapid growth reaching approximately 60 stores.

Norton Rose Fulbright advised on all legal aspects of the transaction, including the external administration as well as negotiation and execution of the successful sale.

Norton Rose Fulbright partner Chris Cruikshank, who led the legal aspects of the external administration with restructuring and insolvency partner Tim Mornane, commented:

"Deloitte has achieved a great result in a challenging retail environment. Significant preparatory work was done to optimise the businesses prospects for sale, made even more challenging by running a process through the Christmas period."

Norton Rose Fulbright partner Ben Smits, who led the business sale, commented:

"It was a delight to assist Deloitte on the swift and smooth sale of this iconic business. We look forward to seeing the buyer capitalise on the opportunities the sale has presented for both the corporate stores as well as the franchised network."

David Lombe, administrator for HSW, commented:

"The HSW Group has been operating in a challenging market for some time, characterised by the failure of a number of established players in the retail sector due to ongoing pressures from deteriorating sales and margins in a highly competitive environment. A wide-ranging sale of business campaign was launched on our appointment, and we have been right-sizing the business for sale since. Achieving a sale in the current retail environment is an outstanding result and is directly attributable to the restructuring undertaken in the Howards business."

Chris Cruikshank, Tim Mornane and Ben Smits were assisted by corporate associate Mitchell Kelly, and supported by a dedicated team spanning several legal disciplines including real estate partner Michael McKee; partner Jackie O'Brien, senior associate Louise O'Connell and associate Isobel Taylor from the intellectual property team; real estate associate Catherine Ding; and restructuring and insolvency associate Joshua Kwong.

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