‘It’s the economy, stupid’: Truscotts owner speaks about collapse

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

ADELAIDE, SA: For the first time since receivers were brought in for the failed Truscotts brand of appliance stores, one of the owners, Dr Christopher Starrs, has spoken on the record about what caused the chain of stores, once valued at over $20 million, to collapse suddenly last week.

Soon after receivers closed the doors of the Truscotts stores on Saturday 11 July, Retravision WA CEO Paul Holt blamed the failure on “a number of poor management decisions” by the Starrs. We asked Dr Starrs if this was true.

“I think there is one thing that I can say at this time, and that is, and you can quote me on this, it’s the economy, stupid,” he said.

When asked if he accepted responsibility for the Truscotts business model, Starrs said that he and his wife didn’t choose this model, but rather they bought into the business model when they purchased the stores from the failed BSL group.

It was, however, the Starrs’ decision to purchase the Casual Living brand of stores, a move Holt claims to have argued against: so was this business model representative of poor management decisions?

“That was the Harvey Norman model, it was also the model of Radio Rentals in South Australia. At the time, which was before the economic crisis, the model was a totally appropriate model, but there’s been a recession, and for somebody to say that it’s caused by our wrong decisions, such a person would have to be living under a rock not to know that it’s the recession, stupid.”

Starrs declined to comment on whether he thought Holt was out of line by going to the media and blaming the Starrs’ management for the business’ collapse. Starrs said he hadn’t spoken to Paul Holt for over a year, with his wife, Truscotts managing director, Janine Starrs handling that side of the business.

When asked if he would still accept calls from Holt, Starrs said “yes”, and that he would “have a few things to say to him”.

When asked if he was optimistic about finding a buyer, known as a White Knight, for the Truscotts stores, Starrs said “No, I think that is a totally foolish hope”.

Starrs declined to comment on whether he regretted taking the Truscotts group of stores to Retravision WA upon their acquisition.

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