A BENDIGO poultry company that went into liquidation just before Christmas owed $674,000, leaving a trail of unpaid creditors.
More than 100 farmers and small business owners across Victoria have been left reeling after Bendigo Gourmet Poultry and Game, and parent company Wangara Poultry and Game, were placed into liquidation.
The East Bendigo poultry business sacked all 14 staff working at its Mayfair Park Estate site on Monday, December 17. The company was founded by Sebastian businessman Michael Cowie who developed it into a food export business, supplying produce to some of the state’s top restaurants, including Vue de Monde.
A report from liquidator company Pitcher Partners showed the company had accumulated debt of at least $674,000, however, claims from creditors were expected to total up to $889,000.
Liquidators met with creditors in Melbourne yesterday, who were told the estimated retrievable assets were roughly $100,000.
Epsom bird farmers John Kane and Jennifer Jones said the future of their small hobby farm was in doubt because of the money they were owed.
The pair said they had about 500 pigeons that they were now unable to sell.
“We’re in a real catch-22, we’re just about out of grain, which is costing us thousands of dollars,” he said. “We’ve got 500 birds to feed and nowhere to sell them.”
“We’re currently looking at alternatives to destroying the birds, but the alternatives are not good.”
Mr Kane said he was not holding his breath on having his money repaid. He said the losses could not have come at a worse time, with both he and his partner recently being diagnosed with cancer.
“We went into cancer surgery two weeks apart. We were in debt as a result of that. This has compounded that and made it worse. The couple of thousand we’ve got outstanding is very little to what others have lost, but it’s become a disaster for us.”
Mr Kane said he wasn’t able to attend yesterday’s meeting with liquidators because he had only received the letter on Thursday.
Pitcher Partners accountant Peter Fraczek said the corporation act meant the meeting with creditors had to be held 11 days after the company went into liquidation.
“It was frustrating timing for many creditors and many weren’t able to attend,” he said.
Mr Fraczek said the liquidators were taking offers to purchase the company’s assets, including its production sites and machinery.
According to the liquidators report, the company owed $71,000 in unpaid rent at its Mayfair Park factory site.
Mr Cowie was contacted multiple times by the Bendigo Advertiser but did not return calls.