Luxury event planner collapses amid legal battle
It's more bad news in a shocking year for Brisbane's events scene with the liquidation of a long-term planning firm.
Director Marc Sheldon has put his high-class event planning business Flugente under after 10 years of operation in the River City.
Mr Sheldon tapped experienced liquidators Kaily Chua and David Hambleton of Rodgers Reidy to wind up the business.
Flugente - which the company often insists is pronounced FLOOG/EN/TEH - was founded on May 14, 2010 and catered high-end Brisbane functions with its signature fish dish.
It halted trading on January 31, with Sheldon blaming "poor economic conditions" where the company struggled to source new business.
Their early investigations reveal the high-end event planning firm was struggling well before COVID-19 arrived on Australian shores.
Chua found Flugente's cashflow problems started way back at the end of 2017.
It seems the final straw was the commencement of legal proceedings against the company by disgruntled client The J Team Co. Ltd.
It's understood the legal argy-bargy centres over the quality of an event in 2018.
The J Team Co. Ltd, a Japanese business, thought they were getting a 5-star quality event however Flugente insisted the price was only for a 3.5-star night.
Sheldon couldn't be reached for comment.
Unable to afford the legal fight or pay for any adverse court judgment, Sheldon tipped the company into liquidation on June 26.
Taxpayers, through the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, are listed as the only creditor - owed $101,395.
NOT SO SPARKLY
SOME staff at Michael Hill International's Brisbane HQ would find little to celebrate in the jeweller's latest trading update.
Despite a "solid start" to the new financial year there are job cuts on the horizon.
At the end of the last year Michael Hill employed 700 people in Queensland, with half of these workers based at its Murarrie head office.
A company spokesman would not say how many workers will get the chop.
"Michael Hill is not in a position to confirm the number of redundancies," the spin doctor said. "The restructure is taking place across this week and as such the matters are still being managed sensitively and respectfully with impacted team members".
But investors were happy.
Michael Hill shares jumped 6.6 per cent to 32.5c, after it reported digital sales for the fourth quarter had surged 193 per cent on the same time last year.
Chief executive Daniel Bracken told the market the chain had emerged from the pause in physical store trading (from March to late May) as a leaner, stronger and more focused business.
But he said decisions had been necessary to ensure the health and resilience of the business. "Sadly, this has resulted in a number of non-customer facing team members departing the business," Bracken said.
Michael Hill now has a network of 290 stores in Australia, New Zealand and Canada after permanently closing 11 outlets, including seven in Australia in the quarter.
Total sales fell 13.7 per cent to $485.6m for the full financial year but were up 2.7 per cent to $469m when adjusted for same stores on comparable trading days.
Australian sales on a same store basis fell 8.1 per cent for the quarter but rose 0.1 per cent for the year.
Bracken said the company had made a solid start to the 2021 financial year, and all markets and channels were ahead of last year.
"(But) there is no doubt that economic uncertainty will continue, given future government stimulus packages in all markets remain unclear, and ongoing volatility in consumer confidence is likely," he said.
The future of a South Brisbane bottle-making factory seems assured after one of Australia's most wealthy businessman paid almost $1b to take the helm in one of the biggest company deals in the nation's history.
Anthony Pratt's paper manufacturing and recycling giant Visy yesterday signed the provisional dotted line to take over American manufacturer Owens-Illinois' Aussie glass bottle-making operations after an eight-month long Goldman Sachs sale campaign.
Pratt's Visy will pay almost $1b for the local glassmaking business of O-I in what is thought to be one of the biggest manufacturing acquisitions by a locally-owned business in Australian history.
Pratt promises to bring Visy's focus on sustainability to the company and increase its recycled content of glass bottles from one third to two thirds.
O-I, which will reap $947m from the sale, made half its revenue from manufacturing beer bottles.
Visy will employ 7200 people in Australia and New Zealand after the acquisition to continue servicing clients such as Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Treasury Wine and Lion Dairy and Drinks.
Originally published as Luxury event planner collapses amid legal battle