Australia’s Biggest Online Bookseller Files For Protection

Booktopia has entered into voluntary administration, but will continue filling orders and selling to the public under supervision from an insolvency adviser.

Australia’s largest online bookseller announced the move on Wednesday, two weeks after it went into a voluntary suspension of share trading.

Along with Booktopia Group, its associated entities Booktopia, Making I. T. Better, and Virtual Lifestyles, have all been declared insolvent.

Administrator Keith Crawford said McGrathNicol Restructuring was undertaking an urgent assessment of Booktopia’s business while options for its sale or recapitalisation were being explored.

“We are urgently engaging with key stakeholders to maximise the prospect of successfully completing a sale or recapitalisation of Booktopia,” Crawford said in a statement.

“Our immediate focus is to undertake an assessment of Booktopia’s assets and work alongside employees, suppliers, and customers to secure the best outcome for all parties.”

In June the company, which went public on the ASX in 2020, announced the axing of 50 jobs and the resignation of its chief executive, David Neinke.

The redundancies are expected to save the company $6.1m in 2025, the chairman of Booktopia, Peter George, said at the time.

Last year the company axed about 40 jobs.

The company’s co-founder Tony Nash, who stepped into the role of executive director and sales director after Neinke’s departure, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

On 17 June Booktopia Group notified the ASX the company’s securities had been suspended from quotation, pending the outcome of a strategic review, and a bid to seek additional external funding. By then shares had fallen to 4.5 cents, compared with about $3 a share in 2021.

In the second half of 2023, Booktopia reported a 21% fall in revenue to $86.3m, in comparison with the same period the previous year.

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The company’s net loss between July and December was $16.7m, with net liabilities of more than $20m.

Last Friday, after extending the share trade suspension a further 11 days, the company announced that the debt facility it had been expecting had been terminated.

At a presentation in February, Booktopia told investors there had been a 8.3% decline across the book selling market in January 2024. The increased cost of living, more online competition and a volatile market were blamed for the downturn.

Early last month the company withdrew completely the already heavily reduced sales expectations for 2024.

A spokesperson for McGrathNicol said on Wednesday that Booktopia’s online retail activity would remain unchanged for the time being.

The first creditors’ meeting will be held on 15 July.

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