Cameron to pay price for retail failure

SUE MITCHELL
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2014

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Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron has virtually ruled out a second attempt to regain control of her discount retail empire, saying "I failed and have paid the price for that failure".

Cameron, who appointed administrators and receivers to retail holding company DSG Holdings Australia last week, appears to have no plans to buy back DSG's 100-plus profitable Sam's Warehouse and Crazy Clarkes stores.

Rather, the 60-year-old philanthropist, environmentalist and animal welfare advocate is relieved that her five-year foray into the struggling discount variety sector has come to an end.

"I'm relieved that I can stop worrying and trying desperately to make the company work," Cameron told Fairfax Media.

"I don't feel bitter (but) disappointed for all the staff. Some of them are finding jobs but it will be very difficult for others."

DSG's receivers, David Winterbottom and Rahul Goyal of KordaMentha, have received 25 expressions of interest from parties keen to take over some of DSG's remaining stores. None have expressed interest in the entire store network.

More expressions of interest are expected before the July 17 deadline, Goyal said.

However, Cameron, who is estimated to have lost more than $200 million of her fortune on the venture, is not among them.

When Cameron's former company, Retail Adventures Pty Ltd, collapsed in October 2012 after racking up losses of $114m in two years, Cameron used her position as the largest and only secured creditor to buy back the business three months later.

"(Jan) can regain control, but my conversations to date have been about her exiting this business," Goyal said.

The receivers plan to close about 40 of the remaining 143 Sam's Warehouse and Crazy Clarks stores and are looking for trade buyers for the balance.

The receivers are also winding up DSG's distribution centre in Queensland and head office in North Ryde.

Cameron is DSG's only secured creditor and is owed about $100m, while unsecured creditors are owed about $15m and DSG's 2500 employees just under $10m in entitlements.

Goyal says KordaMentha is hoping employee entitlements will be covered by funds raised by selling off stock. Fairfax

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