Application for liquidation

An application has been made to place an Oamaru furniture company, established in 1985 to make quality furniture from recycled timber, in liquidation.

The application to place Willetts Furniture Company Ltd in liquidation has been made to the High Court at Timaru.

Willetts Furniture was placed into voluntary receivership in May 2008, ceased trading at the end of 2010, and was replaced by a new business.

An application to put the company into liquidation was filed in the High Court, Timaru on August 11 and will be heard on Wednesday, October 19, at 10am.

At its peak in the mid-1990s, the company employed about 90 staff and held contracts to produce furniture for hotels, resorts and other developments.

These included the Millbrook Resort development, the Queenstown boutique hotel Eichardt's, the St Moritz Hotel in Queenstown and the executive residence at Otago University.

Owner Colin Willetts, who in 2008 believed the company was capable of trading out of the receivership due to a "huge amount of forward orders and very strong support from staff, suppliers and customers", yesterday had no comment to make on the application for liquidation other than to say that "the process will take its course".

He said inaccuracies in media coverage in recent days had been upsetting to staff, clients and suppliers.

Previous reports had failed to mention that a new business, Willetts 2010 Ltd, had been trading from the premises since the beginning of the year.

It had new ownership, and while Mr Willetts had stayed on as general manager, he had no ownership stake in the new company.

Six staff had been retained to manufacture and sell a new range of cheaper, ecologically friendly products, including furniture made from beech and medium-density fibreboard (MDF).

The receivership of Willetts Furniture Company Ltd in 2008 followed a series of difficulties for the company, with no single one being identified as the determining factor.

A major setback came in 2003 when the company was forced to switch to New Zealand native beech timber after Government legislation cut off its supply of rimu timber, ending the export market in the United Kingdom it had built up over a 10-year period.

Mr Willetts established the company in Oamaru in 1985, producing crafted furniture, initially from recycling kauri.

The beech timber used by the company is accredited by the worldwide Forest Stewardship Council as a sustainable product, reflecting the strong ecological approach taken since the company was formed in 1985.

The plaintiff is the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, whose solicitor, Caroline Stanton, could also not be reached for comment.



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