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Sorbet UK shuts in uncertain times after dismal Christmas

'In hindsight, we could possibly have tweaked the business model to more effectively reach our target audience'

03 February 2019 - 00:21 By ADELE SHEVEL

Sorbet, the franchised beauty salon from SA, has closed its UK business after three years of operating there.
Sorbet founder Ian Fuhr blamed a combination of factors, including the tough trading environment and high costs.
The group has five stores in London, but the retail environment is a tough one and consumers are under pressure, with Brexit and the prospect of a no-deal - meaning the UK would leave the EU immediately on March 29, with no agreements in place about the future - adding to the uncertainty.
Fuhr is still involved with Sorbet SA, an entirely separate and independent business from Sorbet UK, "with no shareholding or financial interests in the UK business".
"Sorbet SA has thus suffered no financial loss as a result of the closure of the UK business," he said.
"In hindsight, we could possibly have tweaked the business model to more effectively reach our target audience."
When did they realise the venture wasn't going to work?
"At the end of December 2018, when sales over the holiday season fell well short of budget," said Fuhr.
The company was placed in creditors' voluntary liquidation. It ceased trading on January 25, and is expected to be placed in liquidation on February 8.
Fuhr said Sorbet in SA was in the best financial shape since inception, and franchising demands remained buoyant. There are 207 outlets in SA, with plans to open about 20 new stores this year.
The more recent Sorbet Man concept is being well received, too.
Long4Life, run by Bidvest founder Brian Joffe, bought Sorbet SA in 2017, and Fuhr and other shareholders owned the UK business. Fuhr also runs the Personal Care and Wellness Division of Long4Life.
According to the letter from the liquidators, Sorbet UK's loyalty scheme was cancelled with immediate effect. Those who had paid by credit card were told to ask their service provider about refunds under their protection schemes.
The company said it would not issue refunds for prepaid courses or gift cards as it had ceased to trade.
"Any sums due to you will form an unsecured claim in the liquidation proceedings," said the letter...

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