By Ian Neubauer
National Retail Liquor Group (NRLG) – the company behind the 13 Liquor Legends outlets put into voluntary administration in NSW last week – has amounted $15 million in debt and will be placed into liquidation.
Administrator PPB chaired a creditors meeting in Sydney yesterday (Mar 26), where it was announced NRLG had amounted $12 million in secured debt with lender Wespac.
NRLG also owes $2.5 million to suppliers including HLW, Southern Independent Distillers and Beach Avenue Wholesalers, and $500,000 in wages and entitlements to former employees.
At least one former employee has alleged improper conduct by NRLG directors Mike Gordon and Vince Smith, who did not attend the creditors meeting this week.
“They refused to even pay the wages from the previous week and they kept this all secret from the staff,” said Thomas McCulloch, who managed the Liquor Legends store in Chester Hill since 2001 and claims he is owned more than $38,000.
“The first moment we heard about [the financial problems] was when administrators turned up at the stores, changed the locks, cashed up the tills and asked the staff to leave.
“Mike Gordon and Vince Smith are OK. They own million-dollar homes and expensive cars. Meanwhile, the staff who worked at the stores are left with nothing,” he said.
NRLG could not be reached for comment today (Mar 27) as the company’s contact details are not listed online or in Telstra’s telephone directory.
PPB partner Jack Bournelis refused to comment on the allegations, but said the administrator has launched a full investigation.
“We are in the process of investigating the company’s affairs and as a result of those investigations we will produce a full report to creditors at the next meeting which will take place toward the end of April,” he said. “It’s early days yet.”
Liquor Legends managing director John Carmody, which licensed NRLG to operate the banner group in NSW and Victoria, said former employees would be guaranteed their entitlements under the Federal Government’s General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).
Carmody added he has dispatched correspondence to all Liquor Legends members indicating he would guarantee monies owing to the group by NLRG for membership fees, rebates, marketing activities and sundries.
PPB’s Bournelis confirmed the 13 stores have been placed on the market with broker Manenti Quinlan and Associates.
“We have closed all the stores and are hopeful of introducing potential buyers to the landlords,” Bournelis said. “There has been significant interest.”
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