Jucy Rentals has been placed into receivership following the sale of its assets to serial investment company Polar Capital.
The Jucy Rentals business and other associated entities were placed into receivership on Friday, with Grant Graham and Neale Jackson of Calibre Partners (formerly KordaMentha) appointed as receivers.
The global Covid-19 pandemic and closed borders has hit the tourism company hard, with the domestic market alone not enough to sustain regular turnover.
Jucy Group, which has operations in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Britain, has experienced a 90 per cent reduction in revenue since March. Prior to lockdown, it had around 400 staff, this down about 60 per cent to around 150 today.
Polar Capital, headed by Colin Neal, the founder of Big Chill Distribution, has acquired a majority controlling stake in rental business in New Zealand and Australia. David Cushing, formerly of Tourism Holdings, has secured a minority stake.
Jucy's other businesses Jucy Snooze, Jucy USA, Jucy UK, Your Drive and Lucky Rentals have not been purchased under the new ownership model.
Polar Capital also holds a 68 per cent stake in Jucy Cruise.
As part of the sale process, Graham and Jackson have been appointed receivers of four Jucy Group entities; Jucy Group Limited, Jucy Holdings Limited, Jucy Rentals NZ Limited and Jucy by Design Limited.
The agreement will see Jucy founders and brothers Dan and Tim Alpe exit the group. However, Dan will step into the role of chief executive and run the rental business.
Coronavirus has had an "unprecedented and devastating" impact on the business, Alpe said, and had presented the most significant challenges the organisation has had to face in its 20-year history.
"We moved quickly to reduce costs and hibernate or close parts of the business, however, it became clear that we needed to bring external capital into the business," Alpe said.
"We have always believed that the Jucy brand is an integral part of the tourism landscape in New Zealand and Australia, and this new entity provided the best opportunity for the Jucy brand to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and move forward."
Alpe told the Herald the sale of the business had been "bittersweet" but the priority was to ensure the brand continued to exist long term.
"It's not something we're celebrating but it is good to have a resolution and outcome that we can look forward with."
Alpe and Tim were not looking to relinquish ownership of the business, but were left with no choice. Earlier this year it engaged with PwC to explore options for Jucy.
It received strong interest from several parties before settling on Polar Capital. The financials of the deal are undisclosed.
Jackson, partner of Calibre Partners, said the business would could to trade under new ownership, retain 150 staff and the purchaser had agreed to honour holidays booked or credits held with Jucy Rentals.
What now for Jucy?
Colin Neal of Polar Capital would not disclose how much Polar Capital acquired Jucy for, but said the investment company was committed to growing the Jucy team to pre-Covid levels and expanding the business in both New Zealand and Australia.
The recovery of the business would entail a two-year plan, starting with reprioritising the campervan business and winding down the car rentals division over the next year, he said.
"For the next two years we hope to be able to grow it a little bit internally and also in Australia," Neal told the Herald.
"We can't forecast anything as things change on a weekly basis since Covid, but we are absolutely wanting to increase the business."
Neal said Polar Capital was in a position to inject additional capital into the business as required if the borders remain closed and domestic travel dried up, and Polar Capital had sought to acquire the company as it was "an interesting business"
Jucy would soon begin winding down its car rental business in New Zealand to enable it to focus on growing the core campervan business, he said, adding that its rental car market in Australia was promising, but "unprofitable" here due to it being "over-populated".
Polar Capital remained on an acquisition drive, Neal said.