Director sees future for troubled rental firm

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 07:58 22/07/2013

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A director of Pacific Horizon says he believes the motorhome rental company still has a future and hopes to restructure the group with a reduced fleet, despite it being placed in receivership.

KordaMentha partners Grant Graham and Brendon Gibson were appointed as receivers last week.

Pacific Horizon has about 40 staff at offices in Auckland, Wellington and Picton and about 22 staff in Christchurch.

"We still see a future for PHL with a reduced fleet," director John Liddell said.

The company had suffered from a "perfect storm" which had formed in the last two or three years, with the combined effects of the global financial crisis, the relative strength of the local currency and drastic downturns in Australian and British visitor numbers, "all culminating in our inability to carry on as we were."

Pacific Horizon had seen a 30 per cent decline in visitors to Christchurch in the year after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Liddell said the motorhome company was now talking to other financiers with a view to restructuring the company.

The company had had the support from its current financiers who had helped it through a tough period.

"But there comes a time you have to put a line in the sand and say you can't keep going as you are."

Its fleet of 260 vehicles were charged to multiple financiers.

Now the company was focused on a restructuring deal.

Liddell said they had been grateful for the support of suppliers and customers and travel agents worldwide.

"We are the last major New Zealand-owned campervan company now. If we close down then there's no other major company positioned to supply the upmarket rental campervans in New Zealand."

All the other companies other than THL were in the second tier market, in a cheaper range with older vehicles.

The support for a New Zealand- owned company was very high, he said.

"We are working with the financiers with a view to restructuring the company," Liddell said.

He could not say who those potential financiers were.

The receivers had described the business as unlikely to be saleable, but Liddell said he believed there was a market out there for the business in a restructured form.

They would reduce their fleet size from 260 to about 100 due to overcapacity in the industry.

It would continue to operate in the premium market.

Liddell said prior to being placed in receivership they had tried "all options" but had been unsuccessful.

"But since the receivership there have been other options put to us."

Liddell and his wife Patricia started the company in 1987 with three campervans and grew the fleet to more than 300 at its peak in 2010.

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- The Press

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