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Dunedin-founded online retail discount company VoucherMate has been placed in voluntary liquidation by its shareholders, owing potentially $160,000 to preferential and unsecured creditors.
Despite several unspecified injections of cash by shareholders - including from some prominent Otago business people - the recession, "substantial fixed overheads" and staff costs combined to prevent Vouchermate from continuing as a viable operation, the liquidators Insolvency Management's first report said.
Insolvency Management, of Dunedin, was appointed by shareholders on December 24 and despite the application to liquidate VoucherMate, liquidator Ian Nellies said he hoped the business could be sold, following "several expressions of interest from local people".
Mr Nellies understood retailers paid VoucherMate to advertise on the website and discount vouchers were downloaded for free by customers, leaving it up to those retailers to decide whether to redeem the vouchers.
The website was being "kept alive", and still offered discounts to the public, so the business could be sold as a going concern.
However, no new advertisers were being sought, Mr Nellies said yesterday.
Before the liquidation there were about 20 staff, which was trimmed back to four at the time of liquidation, plus there were earlier a number of commission-based agents across the country, he said.
The liquidators' first report, which highlighted VoucherMate operations had not been fully assessed yet, said there was one secured creditor, six known preferential creditors and 26 unsecured creditors estimated to be owed $159,271.
There was no estimate yet of a deficit.
"There is a strong possibility that there will be a dividend for the unsecured creditors in this liquidation, but that is ultimately dependent upon a successful sale," Mr Nellies said.
"The liquidators have already received several proposals for the purchase of the business, which are subject to further review," he said.
The company was incorporated in January 2006 and the Companies Office list of shareholders reads like a "who's who" of Dunedin business people.
VoucherMate's directors are Christopher Barnes and John Gallaher of Dunedin, while its shareholders include Sir Eion Edgar, John Gilks, Peter Hau, Robert Guthrie, Peter and Mary Fennessy, Mike and Katrina Horne, Murray Tennant, Izaak Auperle, Paul Moodie and Lyn Adamson, Pieter and Lisa Brits, Lindsay Campbell, Ross and Carol Liddell, Graeme and Sarah McLauchlan, Tony Sycamore, Margaret Guthrie, Ryan Campbell, Chin Loh, Kam Liew, Dennis Lumb and Bryan and Jennifer Munro.
Among the seven companies listed as shareholders is Webb Farry Trustee Services Ltd and GSM Trustees Ltd, the latter of which Stuart and Graeme McLauchlan are directors.
Over the years, VoucherMate, which was an inaugural graduate of Dunedin's Upstart Business Incubator, was later a finalist in the Westpac Otago Chamber of Commerce awards in 2008.