A union representing some of the staff at Whitcoulls and Borders is recommending they stay put until the future of the troubled bookshops becomes clearer.

The advice from the National Distribution Union (NDU) came after a meeting today with the administrators, who were called in last week by Australian parent company REDgroup Retail.

REDgroup appointed Ferrier Hodgson to take over its businesses in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

NDU general secretary Robert Reid said the administrators outlined the chain of events leading up to, and following, their appointment last Thursday.

"They have had a team over from Australia working Friday, Saturday, Sunday," he said.

"They told us their statutory goal is to achieve the maximum return for all creditors and to save jobs where possible."

Mr Reid said union representatives had been invited to attend a creditors' meeting next Monday.

Another creditors' meeting had to be held within 25 days, at which the administrators would give an indication of the options being considered.

"In the meantime, they have to ascertain what the best way forward is and, in the hierarchy of options, probably a sale process is what they are working on," he said.

The administrators had to work for the interests of the creditors, and not the original company, Mr Reid said.

It was essentially business as usual for employees until the second creditors' meeting.

"What we would say to workers, whether they are our union members or not, is it's probably best to stay put at the moment," he said.

"If they leave, there are questions about entitlements to holiday pay and other things, but if they are ever made redundant, then all those things are payable as a priority payment up to $18,700."

NDU and another union, Unite, represent a small minority of the 1300-strong Whitcoulls and Borders workforce.

Mr Reid said it was not possible to gauge what job losses would be on the cards.

That depended on whether a buyer was found and what the buyer decided to do, "and that's going to be weeks away".

- NZPA