Australian branch of Max Brenner's chocolate empire collapses

Questions regarding the company's financial health first surfaced in August 2017, when Australian Financial Review reported that Glenn Wein was assembling a "rescue package" for the company.

Max Brenner waffle (photo credit: COURTESY MAX BRENNER)
Max Brenner waffle
(photo credit: COURTESY MAX BRENNER)
The Australian branch of decadent Israeli chocolate restaurant and retail brand Max Brenner has entered into voluntary administration, with directors blaming escalating costs and challenging retail conditions.
Directors of Max Brenner Australia, which operates 37 stores across Australia and employs approximately 600 staff, appointed specialist restructuring firm McGrathNicol as administrators on Sunday.
Administrators said all the company’s stores would operate on a “business as usual” basis while they work with the existing management team to urgently review business operations and evaluate prospects of completing a sale of the business as a going concern or recapitalization.
The Australian branch of Max Brenner operations is owned and operated by Tom and Lilly Haikin, who purchased independent franchise rights to the company in the country.
“Chocoholics are respectfully invited to show their support by enjoying a hot chocolate or dessert as the administrators assess the best solution to ensure Max Brenner Australia’s unique chocolate experience continues to delight millions of Australians in the future,” Max Brenner Australia said in a statement.
Co-founded in 1996 by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, the Max Brenner brand started with the opening of a small chocolate shop in Ra’anana.
By 1999, 10 chocolate shops had opened across Israel and the company launched its first international restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Paddington in the same year.
In 2001, Max Brenner was acquired by Strauss Group, one of Israel’s foremost food and beverage companies. Today, the company has restaurants in the United States, Japan, Singapore, Russia and China, in addition to its Israeli and Australian locations.
Questions regarding the company’s financial health first surfaced in August 2017 when The Australian Financial Review reported that Glenn Wein, director of several Consolidated Press Holdings investee companies, was assembling a “rescue package” for the company.
Yet as recently as January, the company told Inside Retail Australia that it hoped to expand operations and open an additional six to seven stores this year in areas including New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.
Concerns continued to grow in June, however, when Max Brenner Australia was the recipient of a winding up order from Queensland business Sunstate Ceilings over unpaid debts.
Although Max Brenner chocolate stores in Australia have become a primary target of the Australian anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign effort over the last decade, protests have subsided in recent years.