Byron Bay Cookie Co crumbles, supplier: “I could smell a rat”

Byron Bay Cookie Company has confirmed to Food magazine that it has entered voluntary administration. Here, a very disgruntled supplier vents his spleen about his dealings with the now collapsed confectionery brand.

Ray Cranfield, managing director at Australian Packaging, said "We've been supplying to Byron Bay Cookie Company for a couple of years and have always had trouble with payments. The CEO Gordon Slater is a high profile orthopaedic surgeon rolling in money and having a good time and featuring in [the media] on a regular basis.

"The Australian Tax Office moved in earlier this week and said they had to attend court on 12 April to show reasons why they’re not paying their ATO accounts, and are not able to pay their suppliers. This morning they went into voluntary liquidation. I've been dealing with their financial controller over the last two weeks, trying to recover money, and I was promised the money, but the gentleman rang me a little while ago … and it doesn’t look like we’ll recover any of our funds," he said.

Cranfield said Byron Bay Cookie Company owes Australian Packaging $33,000 alone.

"We're chasing September 2012 accounts and we supplied to them up until November. We stopped supplying in December and then have been trying to negotiate.

"It's only been in the past two or three weeks that I personally have gotten involved. I'm the MD so I don't normally get involved in these bits and pieces but it's been going on this long and I could smell a rat," said Cranfield.

Cranfield said he threatened to take the company to court, and only last week was reassured that he would receive his payments.

"If a liquidator has been appointed there may be an opportunity for us to recover some trade … and be able to continue with them, but I suppose I'm more upset that he’s been ra-ra-ing his company in the media and other areas and saying how terrific the company is and how excited he is about his business, but he's taken a lot of Australian and overseas companies for their money. You get very angry about those sort of things," he said.

While Cranfield admits Byron Bay Cookie Company offers a top quality product that's highly recognisable in the Australian marketplace, he says CEO Gordon Slater doesn't understand how best to run a manufacturing business.

"I personally believe that the gentleman should remain as an orthopaedic surgeon and stop playing in manufacturing … [Byron Bay Cookie Company] is a major company selling over $10m worth of goods each year.

"Small companies like mine get hurt very, very badly when you take $33,000 off the bottom line. I've got to pay my employees tomorrow and I will because I'll most probably have to go into my private savings to do it. I bet this bloke's not doing that."

A statement sent to the media by Byron Bay Cookie Company reads:

John Vouris and Brad Tonks of the Business Recovery team at Lawler Partners were appointed Voluntary Administrators of Byron Bay Cookie Company Pty Ltd, being the manufacturing arm for the Byron Bay Cookie Group, on 7 March 2013 after a resolution was passed by its board of directors.

The Administrators will continue to trade the business with the support of employees, customers and suppliers.

The Administrators will also be working closely with the company’s stakeholders in preparation for the first meeting of creditors which will be held on Tuesday, 19 March 2013.

“We intend to trade the business and are working with the board, employees, customers and suppliers and are hopeful that a Deed of Company Arrangement proposal will be submitted that will maximise a return to creditors”, John Vouris said.

Jacqueline Schurig, the director of the company said “The Board has exhausted all avenues prior to making the decision to appoint Voluntary Administrators. The Board has the support of employees, customers and suppliers and is confident that the business has a future and sees this as an opportunity to restructure its manufacturing division. As such, it is the Board’s intention to propose a Deed of Company Arrangement”.


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