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Supie collapse: How much are staff owed, and why did the grocer collapse?

Cameron Smith,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 10:13pm
 Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Supie collapse: How much are staff owed, and why did the grocer collapse?

Cameron Smith,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 10:13pm

The first liquidators’ report on Supie has shed some light on the financial trouble the failed online delivery grocer was in.

Supie ceased trading on October 30, having been put in voluntary liquidation along with related companies Workerly Limited and Bevie Limited, with staff being let go without receiving their final wages, redundancy pay or having annual leave paid out.

According to the financial records of Workerly - which was primarily responsible for employing and managing staff - $120,797 in wages and/or holiday pay remains outstanding to approximately 89 employees, the liquidators’ report said.

This is despite an “anonymous and substantial” cash contribution coming through in the week of Supie’s demise, which was to help cover the final wages of staff.

Workerly employed approximately 118 staff.

Supie owes more than $2.1 million to 4181 unsecured creditors, the liquidators’ report said.

They include NZ Post, Foodstuffs and Woolworths, Z Energy, New Zealand King Salmon, Allpress Espresso, Trade Aid Importers, NZME, Facebook New Zealand, the New Zealand Sugar Company, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola Amatil.

Other creditors include Warehouse Stationery, Heinz Wattie’s and Fonterra.

A further 21 unsecured creditors are owed more than $50,000 from Workerly and Bevie.

Bevie held a liquor licence and operated as the online alcohol retailer within the Supie business.

The Inland Revenue has filed a preferential claim for outstanding GST, PAYE and other related employee deductions to the tune of $881,770 from Workerly.

Administrators Richard Nacey and Stephen White, of PwC, said they were continuing to work with secured creditors while attempting to realise a sale of the company’s assets.

A process to return highly perishable inventory to suppliers with valid security interests was also under way.

The liquidators report identified Supie had $179,443 in funds held in the bank on the day of appointment.

The reason given for Supie’s failure was a lack of sales volume and scale to operate the business profitably, the report said.

“The Supie business was a start-up enterprise that operated in a highly competitive sector for approximately two and a half years before it was placed into voluntary administration,” the report said.

“Further, we understand that the business was actively attracting investment capital to fund growth but was unable to secure the required level of investment.”

Supie had 60,000 customers at the time of its failure, Robbie Paul, chief executive of Icehouse Ventures - a major shareholder in Supie - told the Herald previously.

However, customers waiting on refunds will likely not see anything from Supie.

PwC’s Richard Nacey told the Herald the company was not in a position to refund orders.

He said customers are most likely to be refunded through their credit card company.

Paul said his firm and others had recently put $1m more into Supie, on top of $7.5m previously raised.

Supie founder and director Sarah Balle launched the company in 2021. She had previously spoken of her optimism about the company’s future, telling BusinessDesk the start-up would “absolutely” hit 100,000 members, and had also hoped to be able to scale across the whole country “very soon”.

Cameron Smith is an Auckland-based journalist with the Herald business team. He joined the Herald in 2015 and has covered business and sports.

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