Clothing retailer's jobs 'relatively safe'

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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The potential new operator of clothing firm Shanton Apparel says his intention is to save the jobs of as many staff as possible.

Auckland businessman Mandeep Pala has been revealed as the sole director of Shanton Fashions, which is poised to buy Shanton Apparel out of receivership.

Shanton went in to receivership in October, and its Tauranga receiver, Anthony Harris, said the deal was reliant on the buyer being able to secure the leases of the chain's 39 stores.

Pala said he was reluctant to reveal details while due diligence was under way. But he believed the jobs of the chain's 122 staff were relatively safe. "We are waiting for all the [store] landlords to confirm," he said.

Staff at stores where the lease could not be renewed might be unlucky, "or we'll try and shift them where we can. But otherwise, the jobs are all secure".

Staff were relieved at the news, although there was confusion about job safety. "Pretty positive," was the reaction of one staffer, who asked not to be identified. "Relieved," said another.

"It's been really hard," said a third, who said staff had been on tenterhooks.

Companies Office records shows Shanton Fashions was incorporated on Wednesday.

Pala is sole director but the majority shareholder is Pala Petrochem, which Pala co-owns. He has other business interests, including a company involved in fabric.

Pala said Shanton Fashions' structure could change if other directors or partners came on board.

Until the receivership, Shanton Apparel was majority-owned by Australian-based Atamine, with Carter Trading and Manukau-based Taca holding stakes.

Shanton Apparel also owns BBB Retail, which has 45 Bed, Bath and Beyond linen and homeware stores and which is not involved in the receivership.

The overall company had total revenue of $48.7m and made a net profit of $2.3m for the June 2011 year.

BBB Retail's accounts for the year to June 2011 show the company had total assets of $10.3m but liabilities of $13.5m and a $9.9m related-party loan to Shanton Apparel.

Shanton Apparel's shareholder equity was in the negative by $640,000, mainly from a $10.4m related-party loan to Shanton Properties (NZ) and accumulated losses.

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