Women’s shoe company Ziera Retail placed in administration

Ziera operates 22 stores in New Zealand and 23 in Australia. Photo / 123RF

Women’s footwear business Ziera Retail, which has 140 staff in this country, has been placed into voluntary administration.

Ziera was formerly known as Kumfs and has 22 stores in New Zealand and 23 stores in Australia where it employs 110 staff.

Conor McElhinney and Andrew Grenfell, partners of McGrathNicol, have been appointed administrators of Ziera’s New Zealand entities.

“The appointment follows a number of challenging trading years for Ziera, caused by the rapidly changing retail landscape, changing consumer trends and major changes in their supply chain,” McGrathNicol said in a statement.

“Globally, independent footwear retailers have been closing as larger competitors and online sales take more market share, limiting Ziera’s wholesale market.”

Ziera was founded in 1946 by David Robertson and Mervyn Adams and employs approximately 250 staff on both sides of the Tasman.

The company sells footwear to independent shoe retailers around the world, including in the United States, Australia and Singapore, as well as through its own retail store network in New Zealand and Australia.

“With new season orders having to be placed this week and lease agreements coming up for renewal, the directors were faced with a difficult decision. After much consideration, the directors resolved to appoint administrators rather than risk further losses,” McGrathNicol said.

The administrators have taken control of Ziera and intend to continue operating the companies while seeking a sale of the business, either in whole or in part.

Conor McElhinney, one of the administrators, said: “Ziera offers something unique in the women’s footwear market: stylish, quality shoes that have been orthopedically designed to be able to be worn all day in comfort. There is an incorrect perception that the shoes are only for mature women.

“The business rebranded from Kumfs to Ziera to appeal to a broader customer base, but the message about Ziera’s technology did not cut through.

“In our assessment, the technology has real value and we hope to find another footwear retailer to take on the Ziera mantle and continue to supply its loyal market, while bringing the comfortable fashion message to all women.”

The Ziera story:


Forerunner of Kumfs and Ziera started. Brothers-in-law Mervyn Adams and David Robertson went into partnership as podiatrists. They set out on an ambitious project to study 10,000 women’s feet and create unique “lasts” (shoe moulds) based on the anatomical need of the women.


A local manufacturer was found. The range they developed – known as Mervyn Adams Arch Supporting Shoes – was instantly successful.


The first Mervyn Adams store opened in Hamilton.


The company moved into manufacturing with its own factory.


Exports began to Australia, and towards the end of the decade, into the United States market.


Rapid growth, the factory relocated twice in the early 1980s. John Robertson, the son of founder David Robertson, took over as managing director in 1980.


The first of Ziera store opened in Sydney’s Parramatta Shopping Centre. The shoes began to be marketed under the Kumfs name in 1996.


The first US Kumfs store opened in Fresno, California.


All manufacturing was shifted to a factory in Guangdong, China.


Ziera, a fresh brand name, was launched but the focus on stylishly comfortable shoes remained the same.


A new Auckland super store opened on Broadway, Newmarket.


Administrators announce they have taken control of Ziera, intend to continue operating the companies while seeking a sale of the business.