Customers are shocked and angry they won’t receive orders worth thousands of dollars from a company that sells outdoor furniture, and potentially none of the money back either.
Up to 300 customers of Nelson-headquartered Retail Links Limited, trading as 4 Seasons, learnt on Monday night the company had gone into receivership and wouldn’t deliver their orders – for items like BBQs and spas – or return their deposit.
Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said the customers from the company’s stores in Nelson, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth and Auckland, were classed as unsecured creditors.
Secured creditors including IRD were owed about $4.5m, according to company records, and would be paid any money from the company first. The total amount owed to creditors was estimated to be $8.5 million.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF/Waikato Times
The Four Seasons retail store in Nelson, which has gone into receivership, September 2023.
4 Season employed 38 staff at the five stores at the time of receivership.
Receiver Richard Nacey told Stuff the receivers were appointed on August 30, following a request from the director of the company.
The reason for the appointment was that demand for the “discretionary items” the company sold was reducing, he said.
The company’s directors, brother and sister Catherine and Jonathon Cameron, had “encountered some cash flow issues to the point where they needed to make the decision they could no longer trade”, he said.
The pair declined to comment.
It was too early to determine whether there was likely to be “a distribution” to unsecured creditors, Nacey said.
At the company’s Nelson office on Tuesday some staff were visibly upset.
One employee told Stuff the unsecured creditors included people who had bought items like spas for around $45,000.
Some staff said they were told last month that the company was in a stable position.
A customer at the office said she was shocked to learn she wouldn’t get an outdoor burner she had bought with a credit card for over $2000.
She would contact her card provider to see if she could get a refund, but faced being in a position where she had lost the money and would not get the burner.
Another customer said he was angry that he had to pay more than $1000 extra for a table and benches he had already paid for in full.
The man, who didn’t want to be named, said he bought the furniture on his debit card for just over $3000, on August 27.
The company told him the furniture was ready to be picked up on August 30.
But when he went to the warehouse to collect it on September 1, they said there was a problem, and they would have to contact him later to let him know when he could access it.
He then got the letter from PWC three days later saying the company was in receivership.
At the Nelson office on Tuesday, an employee told him he could fill out a form for customers who might be able to get some money back, but said there was “a low percentage” he would be refunded, the man said.
He said he knew the order was already there, and was then told he could pay $1100 to access it.
Nacey said he was not familiar with the case.
“If people have paid a deposit or pre-paid for something, we can’t honour that transaction, but in some cases what we’ve been able to do is say look, we do have that product in stock, we will sell it to you for a discount.”
The company’s stores were temporarily closed while receivers got “a handle on” the position with regards to stock.
Receivers thought there were 200-300 affected customers, which was “on the large side” of such cases, he said.
“My advice would be if you have paid by credit card to contact your credit card company, and for the larger deposits, people may wish to take legal advice on their position.”
Insolvency legislation was “pretty clear” on the order of priority of creditors, Nacey said.
“I really feel for people that are in this position, it’s a difficult position, and we’ve had a range of responses.”