Davenport cuts and runs
Davenport cuts and runs

Fashion stalwart Liz Davenport is blaming a politically inspired crisis in consumer confidence for the closure of her flagship western suburbs store.

Davenport is leaving the Nedlands showroom, studio and headquarters she has occupied for nearly 30 years at the end of the month.

She is also closing a store in Melbourne's blue-ribbon suburb of Toorak, leaving open just two stores in Australia, in Applecross and Brisbane.

A Medal of the Order of Australia recipient who has designed her brand for more than 40 years, Davenport blames both sides of politics for creating a toxic environment for small retailers.

"What's happening in Australia is a disgrace," she said.

"We are in an absolute crisis of consumer confidence.

"There's no sign to the end of it. We've got a whole Parliament that is just political point-scoring and nitpicking instead of getting on with actually making a difference to what our country needs."

Davenport said fears about superannuation and pensions were frightening consumers and had led people to adopt frugal habits.

She said online sales and the arrival of international brands Zara and H&M had also hurt business.

"Those great big chains coming into Australia is actually sucking an enormous amount out of the retail sector," she said. The designer added that independent chains like hers did not have the same bargaining power as bigger rivals when leasing retail space.

"It is a very fortunate thing that I had started to change away from expensive shops in expensive shopping centres quite some years ago," she said. The Liz Davenport chain once had 13 stores in upmarket precincts around Australia and a boutique in London's Bond Street.

She plans to divide her time between Perth and Hong Kong, focusing on her travel range for international customers.

The West Australian

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