Teens out of pocket as Valleygirl goes into administration

By Susan Strongman

Valleygirl is in administration, and staff have not been paid for a fortnight. Picture / Sarah Ivey
Valleygirl is in administration, and staff have not been paid for a fortnight. Picture / Sarah Ivey

A concerned mum says her 18-year-old daughter has been left in the lurch, after not being paid for a fortnight by struggling retailer Valleygirl.

The woman - who didn't want to be named - said her daughter relied on her part time job at the clothing store to help pay her bills and rent.

Other staffers at the company's stores say they're struggling to eat, having not been paid since July 6.

Wages were due last Wednesday, but despite payslips being posted online for staff to check, no one was paid.

On Friday the company was placed in administration.

Yesterday, the mother said there had been no contact from her daughter's employer, and no explanation.

"Attempts to contact them have been impossible," she said.

"The girls continue to work for the company and are keeping the doors open for trade."

Another staffer at a North Island store, who didn't want to be identified, said she and her colleagues received no contact from the company.

"There are girls struggling to eat, we're paid fortnightly and our last pay was due on Wednesday last week."

She said the mood among staff was gloomy. "We're usually pretty happy, but everyone's down. We feel like we're working for free.

"There are girls who have been here for years and years, who are owed a lot of holiday pay," the staffer said.

She was unsure whether or not they'd get the money they were owed and said some staff had gone to Work and Income New Zealand to ask about getting financial assistance.

When a company is placed in administration, its finances are frozen while its future is determined.

Australian company Jirsch Sutherland was appointed administrator of Valleygirl New Zealand Limited on July 22.

Jirsch Sutherland partner Stewart Free said the New Zealand shops would continued to trade, while a "potential purchase" was explored.

"We are currently investigating the best options for preserving the business operations, which include investigating a potential sale of the business, and by virtue trying to ensure that employees are best looked after," Free said.

Today, the concerned mum told the Herald that after failed attempts to contact the company last week, her daughter and other staff received a formal memorandum telling them the company had been placed into administration.

"They've been told anyone working from July 22 will be guaranteed that they will be paid," she said.

But whether or not staff would receive arrears for working before that date remained uncertain.

The mum said she had a feeling something was going on with the company, as stock had not been replenished in the shop her daughter worked at for some time.

"It wasn't looking good, they'd been told that things were being held up at customs."

Another staffer said the store usually received boxes of new stock weekly, but had not got anything for at least three weeks.

Staff had also been denied access to certain areas of the store's computer system - including the banking application.

Valleygirl, which also operates the TEMT brand, has outlets in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Wellington.

The company is owned by Hyuk Sang Ma.

Jirsch Sutherland has also been appointed as voluntary liquidators of Australian retail and supply companies MHN Trading Pty Limited and Hanama Collection Pty Limited, which trade in Australia as Paper Scissors and Chicabooti, and are related to the struggling New Zealand company.

The Australian operations have ceased to trade.

Free said that following administration of the New Zealand company, one option was to put the company in liquidation.

"If this happens and jobs go ... employees would be able to claim for any loss of salary, wages, holiday pay and/or redundancy owed," he said.

The company that owns Valleygirl and TEMT in Australia - Fast Future Brands - is not related to either of the struggling companies in New Zealand or Australia.

- NZ Herald

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