Calibre Contracting placed in liquidation, owing 50-plus creditors

Graham Smolenski
Graham Smolenski
Calibre Contracting Equipment, a company owned by Queenstown businessman Graham Smolenski, has gone into liquidation owing more than 50 creditors.

Mr Smolenski is the former director of failed insurance company Western Pacific Insurance, which was placed in liquidation in 2011 owing almost $8million to creditors and more than $65million stemming from the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

Canterbury policy holders were subsequently paid a total of $36.8million by liquidators during 2017.

Liquidator Rodgers Reidy says Calibre now owes creditors more than $830,000, including a disputed tax bill of $705,000.

The company, which manufactured and exported excavator attachments, ceased operations last year, with the loss of three jobs.

Its Brisbane-based sister company was placed in liquidation in May.

Mr Smolenski is a co-founder of Millbrook Resort, as well as a former shareholder and director of companies including NZSki, Queenstown Airport and Gibbston Wines.

He confirmed yesterday that he had relocated to Auckland as part of his "retirement plan", though he was yet to sell his $4.9million, five-bedroom, four-bathroom Streamside Lane, Millbrook home.

The liquidator’s initial report lists 53 creditors, but is unable to quantify how much is owed at this stage.

Mr Smolenski said the decision had been made to close down the manufacturing division in New Zealand that supplied and supported the Australian operation, as costs and dollar parity meant New Zealand was no longer competitive against Asian imports.

He said the failure of one of Calibre’s products in Australia — supplied by a third party — had affected sales and had put pressure on the business and its staff.

"The Australian company owed the New Zealand company a considerable amount of money. As this was unlikely to be paid, and there was no Australian operation to take components being made in New Zealand, the decision was made to cease trading in New Zealand last June."

Mr Smolenski disputed that he owed money to the IRD, saying the claim resulted from "confusion of internal IRD computerised assessments across two different accounts".

Calibre had recently sold full ownership of its Sure-Grip, Heli-Tilt, and Ram-Tilt Coupler brands to engineering firm Attach2 Equipment.


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