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Pricewise chain rescued by former CEO, shareholder

Pricewise store

Collapsed health-and-beauty retailer Pricewise has been rescued from receivership by an investment group led by CEO Craig Robertson. 

The 16-store strong retailer’s parent company Price Wise Ltd and sister distribution venture Zenith Distribution Ltd were placed in receivership late last month with trade debts in excess of $1 million. Receivers Steven Khov of Khov Jones and Tom Rodewald of Rodewald Consulting said the business has been sold to a new company Price Wise (2020) Limited owned by Robertson and investment company Polar Capital. It was Polar Capital shareholder Colin Neal who appointed the receivers over concerns about the way Pricewise’s founders Andrew and Gill Berryman were managing the business. 

Khov said the receivers were approached by about 30 businesses expressing interest and several formal offers were submitted, but the sale to Price Wise 2020 ensured it could continue to operate as a going concern and the jobs of all 98 retail staff were maintained. None of the other offers guaranteed their ongoing employment.

“Given the current climate with the impacts from COVID on employment, the offer of employment to the retail staff is a positive outcome given the situation,” Khov said in a statement.

The appointment of receivers was a fractious affair, with the Berrymans’ appointment terminated with immediate effect last week and their reaction to the receivership described as “hostile”. 

“They were removed from the business … with the assistance of the appropriate authorities,” Khov said at the time.

He said today that the receivers are confident the sale will result in distributions of holiday pay to all staff and the Inland Revenue Department would receive its preferential amounts in full. “However, it is unlikely that unsecured creditors will receive a distribution from the receivership.”

Pricewise, which turned over around $12 million annually, has seven stores in Auckland, five elsewhere in the North Island and four in the South Island.  

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