max brenner
Chocolate chain Max Brenner has gone into voluntary administration. Max Brenner Australia

Chocolate café Max Brenner Australia has gone into voluntary administration. The international chocolatier in Australia appointed administrators McGrathNicol to undertake the company’s urgent review on Sunday.

Max Brenner has 15 stores in NSW, 12 in QLD, five in VIC, two in ACT and WA, and one in SA and another in NT. It employs about 600 staff. It is unclear how the move would affect the stores in the future.

“All Max Brenner stores will operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis whilst the administrators complete their urgent review of the operators,” McGrathNicol said. “We are assessing the prospects of completing a going concern sale of the business or a recapitalisation through the Voluntary Administration process.”

McGrathNicol partners Barry Kogan, Kathy Sozou and Jason Preston have been appointed to oversee the review of the company. Max Brenner directors cited “escalating costs” and “tighter retail trade” as reasons for the move.

The Max Brenner in Australia is a separate entity from the stores in US, Singapore, Israel and others. It is owned by husband-and-wife team Tom and Lilly Haikin, who were included in the BRW’s Young Rich list in 2013 with $40 million fortune.

Earlier this year, the company told Inside Retail Australia that it was looking to expand with more stores. However, according to Sydney Morning Herald, documents showed that a Queensland business named Sunstate Ceilings had filed a wind-up notice against it on June 29.

There were also reports that it was in trouble as early as August 2017, with Glenn Wein apparently putting together a financial package to help take the stress off Max Brenner’s Australian franchise.