1400 to lose jobs as Pumpkin Patch closes

Pumpkin Patch staff will lose their jobs and have been left "feeling really gutted" by the demise of the 26-year-old retailer, says union delegate Rob Dempsey.

The company will close its doors after it was unable to find a buyer for the business.

"We fought really hard for this company and most of us have been here for around 15 years. We've put in the hours and done a lot for the company so to end it this way is pretty tough," Dempsey said.

"They're not going to pay us redundancy even though we're entitled to it in our contracts which is a pretty bitter pill for a lot of us here."

The company said earlier this month that it was closing seven stores in New Zealand and 27 in Australia. The remaining 128 Pumpkin Patch stores would stay open until at least the end of the year, before being wound down.

The company's roughly 1400 staff will all be let go, with redundancies starting this week.

Pumpkin Patch's head office is being immediately restructured and 63 people are losing their jobs this week. Receiver Brendon Gibson said staff would be paid wages and holiday pay, but head office staff would not receive redundancy packages.

"All of the staff in retail stores will be paid their wages and entitlements up to the statutory cap, and those in head office," Gibson said.

"Unfortunately there's no assets available to meet their redundancy entitlements so there won't be [redundancy packages] for head office."

Gift vouchers will be honoured only while stock remains available.

Gibson said that without a serious expression of interest from a buyer, there was no choice but to sell all stock and wind down the business.

"Our focus since Pumpkin Patch entered receivership in October was to sell the business as a going concern," Gibson said.

"Unfortunately, while the brand is attractive the business itself ultimately grew no interest at the conclusion of the sale process.

The company had received approaches from a number of agencies to assist the redundant staff to find alternative employment and ensure they were aware of the support that was available, Gibson said.

Gibson said he had received interest for the Pumpkin Patch brand and would now run a process to get the most value from that asset.

The company was tipped into receivership by its lenders last month and appointed voluntary administrators after failing to reinvent itself in the face of shrinking sales and too much debt.

Shortly before this, the retailer said there was virtually no value left in its equity after talks with its lender ANZ Bank New Zealand fell through.

- NZ Herald

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