One of Australia’s most iconic brands, the confectionary retailer Darrell Lea, has gone into voluntary administration. From its humble beginnings 85 years ago, when founder Harry Lea sold chocolates from a push-cart, Darrell Lea has grown to encompass over 69 stores across Australia.
The Lea family has agreed to provide enough funds to allow the business to continue running for the next four to eight weeks, while administrators PPB Advisory search for a buyer. If a buyer cannot be found it may mean the loss of up to 700 jobs.
Many workers were only informed of the confectionary retailer’s financial woes on the day the company went into voluntary administration, and many more were left to discover it for themselves through the news or from friends and co-workers.
What an awful feeling, to turn on the radio on your way to work only to hear that the family-owned company you are working for (not even a cold, corporate giant) is in serious financial strife. And that they didn’t bother to tell you themselves. Surely the workers who put their time, energy and care into a business should be the first to know when it’s going under. It’s the respectful and decent thing to do, and I think that perhaps it shows the growing trend of businesses in Australia losing sight of their most important asset—their employees.
On a more practical level it also means that if Darrell Lea can’t find a buyer, there will be 700 people flooding into the job market all at once, instead of filtering through in a more manageable trickle. In our current economic climate, when finding work isn’t a walk in the park, an extra 700 jobseekers could make the difference between being able to top-up your nest egg, and facing the prospect of simply not having enough funds.
And it seems unlikely that a new, Australian-based confectionary company will open to replace Darrell Lea. Instead I imagine the Australian market will simply import more chocolate from overseas, paying the wages of workers at Hershey’s or Nestlé or Kraft instead of creating jobs in Australia. This seems to be a growing trend.
What do you think? Do we import too much? Should we be supporting Australian businesses, or do Australian businesses need to help themselves first by learning how to treat their workers?
Read more at www.theage.com.au