Fishers Meats expected to resume trading

The prize-winning Fishers Meats' sausage may yet survive to sizzle again.

The 90-year-old Kaikorai Valley butchery business, specialising in meat products and smallgoods, was placed in receivership last week, leaving the jobs of 24 staff in doubt.

However, receiver Malcolm Hollis, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he believed there was an "80% chance" the plant could resume trading.

"Now, ultimately, what happens, and whether the plant survives permanently - can't answer that today. But in the very short term, our aim is to get it trading, get it operating and see what we can do with it."

One "strong option" was that the plant would be put up for sale as a "going concern" in the next few months.

Mr Hollis said there were other options, but "at the moment, our main focus is probably a sale down the track".

The plant ceased production a few days before going into receivership on Friday and Mr Hollis said getting the plant started again would depend on suppliers and staff.

"To date, we've had very good support from suppliers and the employees. They are the two critical components right now."

He believed the plant could be operating again in "the next few days", with suppliers being offered new accounts under the receivership.

"They obviously feel comfortable dealing with the receivers and I will only be taking supplies from suppliers or creditors on the basis that I know I'll be able to pay them."

Asked to explain what went wrong with the company, Mr Hollis said the plant had been expanded in recent years.

"The plant is capable of doing much more in terms of production than it was actually doing."

He said the plant was in "very good order" and "very well set up" and the main issue was "over-investment".

"I think they were anticipating a reasonable amount of sales that just never occurred."

Mr Hollis said company sales were good, particularly in New Zealand. He could not provide details yesterday of how many creditors there were or how much money was owing.

"There is a reasonable sum of money owing."

The company had "interests" in Australia but he was not clear about how substantial they were.

"I think they basically got somebody over there to manufacture under licence . . . very much, the focus is on the Burnside facility."

The plant would continue to be run by the existing management team.

"We're talking two or three people who have all the knowledge and relationships and understanding of how it operates, under our ultimate management, of course."

The company won a gold medal in the 2004 Great New Zealand Sausage Competition.



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