Receivers sell Jean Jones stores

Photo / Richard Robinson
Photo / Richard Robinson

A husband and wife investment team from Auckland have bought the Jean Jones chain of clothing stores from its receivers, Deloitte.

In an optimistic turn for the chain, affected by the failure of Gisborne finance company, Rockforte Finance, Gina Caulfield and Keri Condon will take over and continue to run 13 retail outlets and the East Tamaki factory outlet store.

"Most of the staff will continue to be employed by the new company," said receivers Mike Horne and Murray Frost.

Caulfield is the current general manager of the Jean Jones stores and has a long association with the company. Condon's public LinkedIn profile lists him as a "retail consultant and owner".

Deloitte were appointed to the fashion chain after two sets of liquidators had worked on the business, which was a major exposure for Rockforte Finance, with advances to Jean Jones accounting for around a quarter of Rockforte's $6.8 million loan book.

At the heart of the Rockforte collapse was a series of partially disclosed events involving the Rockforte principals, accountant Nigel O'Leary and Gisborne businessman John Gardner, who are both close friends and distant relatives.

O'Leary was also a close business adviser to fellow Gisborne-ite, Michael Ward, the then-owner of the Jean Jones franchise, which had 20 retail outlets and, unusually for New Zealand in the 21st century, a local manufacturing base.

Rockforte was placed into receivership in May 2010 owing 77 investors $3,250,000 and is the subject of an ongoing Serious Fraud Office investigation. Rockforte was also the fourth finance company to draw on the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme, with the majority of investors being covered by that scheme.

A receiver's report in January said the government might expect to receive back 10 cents on the dollar from Rockforte loan book realisations.

The receivers said Caulfield's industry experience meant they were "confident there will be a smooth transition and that Gina and Keri will continue to build on the success achieved in recent months with the long established Jean Jones brand."

Condon and Caulfield live in upscale Mission Bay, in the Auckland eastern suburbs, and Condon is an Ironman competitor.

- BusinessDesk

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