COVID’s devastating toll on bridal business
The coronavirus pandemic has torn a financial hole into an award-winning bridal gown design company but its owners are determined to keep their doors open.
While Wendy Makin Bridal Designs has managed to retain its staff at its East Brisbane flagship store joint managing director Geoff Makin said since the COVID-19 lockdown in March the businesses cashflow has plunged.
"As soon as the announcement was made on the 16th of March that you couldn't have any more than five people at a wedding all of our brides postponed," he said.
"Our cashflow has dried up. Both retail and wholesale are down at least 75 if not 80 per cent.
"We missed out on all of these March, April and May weddings which we were counting on for cashflow because that's our peak season.
"Fortunately we qualified for JobKeeper so we've been able to keep our team intact but we might have to be cutbacks when JobKeeper goes down."
A major player in the bridal design industry, the company started in 1993 and made couture and ready to wear gowns for thousands of brides in Queensland, interstate, New Zealand and Britain.
However, along with its Queensland business, interstate and offshore orders have dramatically plunged in the wake of the pandemic.
Like the rest of the wedding industry the company has had to make changes to survive with the Makins electing to close their nearby BellaDonna Bridal store on Stanley Street after the lease expired and merge it into their flagship studio at 179 Wellington Road, East Brisbane.
Mr Makin said it was an opportunity that helped the business to keep going while they have also recently sold their Wellington Road base which they have leased back from the new owner.
"We wanted to realise our asset and we didn't know what was going to happen in the future from a commercial standpoint," he said.
Mr Makin said there were a few more appointments coming through "but no one is making decisions".
"We have deposits but we have not been able to get any progress payments coming through because they've all postponed," he said.
"There's still considerable confusion. Brides don't know when the borders are going to be open. Will the borders be open at Christmas time, will family able to come from Melbourne, for example for a March wedding? Obviously no guests from overseas will be able to come.
"It's really difficult times for us. We will have to see what happens."
Originally published as COVID's devastating toll on Wendy Makin Bridal Designs