Jan Cameron buys Arbuckles

Jan Cameron has snapped up Postie Plus Group's struggling manchester chain Arbuckles.

The founder of the Kathmandu retail chain, who is worth about $300 million, will acquire all Arbuckles stock and some of its stores, subject to shareholder approval.

It will not be known for three weeks how much Ms Cameron, a 13.9 per cent shareholder in Postie Plus, has agreed to pay for the chain. However, it should be much less than the $9.5 million the group paid John and Vicki Arbuckle for the business in 2003.

Postie Plus would take a $3.2 million loss on the sale of Arbuckles' assets, mostly from goodwill, chairman Peter van Rij said.

Arbuckles has 23 stand-alone stores in New Zealand and eight more cluster stores combined with Postie Plus outlets. The chain, which employs 150 people, accounted for about 20 per cent of group revenue. Postie Plus' total revenue for the year ended July 2007 was $136 million.

Ms Cameron, who sold Kathmandu in 2006 for a reported $275 million, did not want all the Arbuckles stores, but the final number has yet to be determined.

Group chief executive Ron Boskell said she would tour the stores with Postie Plus management next week to decide which she wanted to keep. Surplus stores would be converted to other group brands or closed as leases expired.

Staff in stores Ms Cameron took over would be offered employment, but a few jobs could go, he said.

It was premature to comment any further till the stores had been selected by Ms Cameron. "It will all unveil itself over the next two to three weeks."

Ms Cameron, who lives in Tasmania, could not be reached for comment. In December she opened a retail chain, Nood (New Objects of Desire), which sells homeware, giftware and furniture. It has five stores in New Zealand.

Hamilton Hindin Greene director Grant Williamson said Ms Cameron would have to make changes to Arbuckles to maximise her investment, though she clearly saw some value in New Zealand retailing.

"Arbuckles has been quite a drag on Postie for a wee while. I'm sure they're pleased to see the back of it."

Arbuckles had clearly been sold for much less than PPG paid for it.

Mr Boskell said the group decided to sell as it wanted to focus its energies on apparel.


The Dominion Post