Bra firm at risk of going bust as bank chases debt

Emkay Bra's creators/owners Darrell Stratton and Kylie Gibbard.
Emkay Bra's creators/owners Darrell Stratton and Kylie Gibbard.

An award-winning bra company could go bust as the bank tries to claw back more than $50,000.

The Bank of New Zealand has applied to the High Court to liquidate Emkay Ltd over an unpaid debt of $50,480. The matter will be called before an associate judge in Palmerston North on Thursday.

Emkay Ltd is the original company behind trading firm Emkay, which has developed lingerie for bigger-busted women. It is now known as Emkay Girl and is run by Emkay Girl Ltd, a company registered in August last year.

According to Companies Office records, Emkay Ltd was founded in April 2010 and is directed by Kylie Gibbard and Darrell Stratton, of Levin. They, along with Roy Brooking, of Palmerston North, and Kym and Paul Hudson, of Otaki, are listed as Emkay Ltd shareholders in various groupings.

Emkay Girl Ltd is directed by Margaret Hood, of Levin, and Ms Hudson. Other Emkay Girl Ltd shareholders who also own shares in Emkay Ltd are Mr Hudson and Mr Stratton, who is Ms Gibbard's partner. Ms Hood and Ross Hood own part of Emkay Girl Ltd, but not Emkay Ltd.

Emkay Ltd was last year the North Island section winner of the Rural Women New Zealand's enterprising rural women award.

Judges said they were impressed by Ms Gibbard's drive and business acumen and predicted strong growth for Emkay Ltd. "She has a strong vision and a can-do attitude that have helped her tackle a problem, find a solution and turn the answer into an enterprise with huge potential," the judges said.

When contacted by the Manawatu Standard, Ms Gibbard would not talk about that award or the debt being chased by BNZ. She confirmed the manufacturing side of the business had been sold and said she was not a shareholder of Emkay Girl Ltd, although the new owners would contact her for advice.

According to Emkay Girl's website, it is still based at Ms Gibbard and Mr Stratton's property, but Ms Hudson could not be contacted yesterday to discuss that or the common shareholders the two companies share.

In an interview with the Standard in June last year, Ms Gibbard said she developed the business as she had a bigger bust and was sick of uncomfortable bras, particularly on the farm.

"There's nothing worse than having your hands covered in cow muck and your bra strap falling off. You can't lift it up," she said.

After a search around New Zealand, then around the world, Ms Gibbard and Mr Stratton decided to make suitable bras themselves. It took them five years to develop the product.

Emkay Girl's website says its products are available in 31 towns, as well as eight Australian stockists.

A BNZ spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts.

Directors and shareholders of limited liability companies are not held personally responsible for any loss of that company and are not obliged to repay creditors out of their own pocket.

Manawatu Standard