Australian fashion label Nique has faced net losses since FY2016, hitting a peak of $2.5 million in the 2019 financial year, which eventually culminated in the brand’s collapse last month.

This is according to documents obtained by Ragtrader, which reveal that the company’s estimated total liabilities were at $9.04 million - including non-current liabilities.

Documents indicate that Nique’s total net losses were $6,838,528 between FY2019 to FY2023.

The company’s largest yearly expense was salary payments, which were slashed from $2.01 million in 2019 to $1.08 million in 2023. Rent made up the second-largest expense - halved from $1.12 million to $555,586.05 in the same period.

Despite the heavy cost-cutting across the business over the last few years, headwinds continued to ramp up - including international freight costs and Australian Tax Office interest.

Other costly operating expenses included advertising and marketing - at $143,796 in 2023 - and superannuation which crept up to $111,000 in 2023, despite dropping to $89,000 in 2021 from a $189,000 peak in 2019.

These overheads were matched by an ongoing revenue slump since 2019 - dropping from $5.5 million to $2.3 million in 2021, and lifting to just $2.7 million in 2023.

Nique was averaging a $36,000 per month loss in the 4 months before going into administration and had no cash at the bank on appointment.

Due to a restructuring initiative in approximately 2022 and 2023, the fashion brand closed its Balaclava store, alongside two other stores in Melbourne CBD. 

During the period February 2022 to January 2024, the average monthly combined cash loss from these stores on a direct cost and direct expense basis was $23,000 loss per month. The store closures did not result in the company achieving a positive trading result. 

From October 2023 to January 2024, its e-commerce site and Fitzroy store recorded profits of $15,000 per month and $3,000 per month respectively. Its Newtown store was break-even, and its Paddington store was in the red at $6,000 per month.

These amounts were not sufficient to cover the company’s overheads.

The administrator noted that whilst they have reviewed the shared financial information, they cannot attest to its accuracy.

Regarding total liabilities, Nique’s largest owed funds include an intercompany loan of $5.7 million from EPRO - a renewable energy firm co-founded by Albert Lau who also held a director position at Nique since 2017.

There is also a four-part loan from investment firm L Industries, totalling $1.46 million. However, L Industries is claiming it is owed $2,141,657.78 under the security agreement, covering 9 payments since October 2016.

Other major liabilities include $1.1 million in trade creditors, $337,175.60 to the ATO, and a $120,000 Shopify loan.

A second meeting has been called to take place on March 21, where a decision will be made as to whether Nique will be handed back to its directors, whether it executes a Deed of Company Arrangement, or whether it is wound up.

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