Victoria’s largest independent butcher, Tasman Butchers, has been saved from administration by two of its buyers, Mario D’Ambrosio and Frank Porcino.
The big-box meat retailer has been for sale since September after being placed into voluntary administration.
D’Ambrosio and Porcino, who are also directors of meat supplier Farm 88, broke the news to customers via an email sent out yesterday afternoon.
It is understood D’Ambrosio and Porcino had a stake in the old business.
The pair appears to be operating the business with a much smaller network of stores, with nine appearing on Tasman’s updated website on Friday morning, compared to the 17 the company originally entered administration with.
Administrator David McEvoy of PricewaterhouseCoopers closed two unprofitable stores while overseeing the business in September and was negotiating with potential buyers on a possible carve-up of the business.
D’Ambrosio and Porcino were unavailable for comment on Friday morning, but it is understood the company is intending to release a statement on Monday.
According to social media posts, former Tasman stores in Belmont, Bendigo, Berwick, Brooklyn, Newcomb, Rosebud, Shepparton and Tralgon will not re-open “under the Tasman banner”.
The new network includes stores in Deer Park, Frankston, Melton, Moorabbin, Mount Waverly, Oakleigh, Pakenham, South Morang and Werribee.
When Tasman initially appointed administrators, owing $10 million to creditors, underperforming stores were cited as a key reason for its downfall.
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We are pleased to announce that Tasman Butchers has been acquired by former Tasman operators Frank Porcino and Mario D’Ambrosio, and now includes the following locations: Deer Park, Frankston, Melton, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Oakleigh, Pakenham, South Morang and Werribee. For those customers who shopped at Belmont, Bendigo, Berwick, Brooklyn, Newcomb, Rosebud, Shepparton and Traralgon Tasman, these stores have been sold or closed and will not be re-opened under the Tasman banner. We apologise for the inconvenience the store closures may have caused and would like to thank you for your loyalty over the years. We look forward to your continued patronage in our new store network. For all Tasman Butchers locations and contact details, please see our bio. #tasmanbutchers#cookingwithtasman#meatlover#tasmanmeats#tasmanmeat#butcher#butchers#cookup#recipe#dinner#meat#foodie#melbournefoodie#dinnerideas#savemoney#realsimple#onthetable#goodeats#whatsonmyplate#heresmyfood#truecooks#instachef#localbutcher#melbournebutcher#melbourne#localbutcher#foodlover#instafood#lifestyle
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“There were elements of the network that were just not working,” McEvoy told SmartCompany in September.
“Some of the stores were underperforming and the business needed to restructure in order to move forward on a sustainable footing.
“It didn’t have the capital base.”
McEvoy has always been confident he could sell the business as a going concern.
Known for its large-format locations, Tasman Butchers is 30 years old and employed about 150 full-time staff as well as a similar number of casual workers when it appointed administrators.
It was majority-owned by Singaporean private equity firm Equity Partners, which purchased a stake in 2013 from businessman Joe Catalfamo.
The purchase is a happy ending for the independent butcher amid broader difficulties in the industry stemming from increased supermarket competition.
Australia’s big supermarkets now account for more than 50 cents of every dollar spent on fresh meat in Australia, according to Roy Morgan — a figure that’s been on the rise in recent years.
Retail expert Pippa Kulmar of RetailOasis says independents are losing out on convenience.
“Maybe the independent was convenient at one point in time, and customers may have had a relationship with the butcher.
“But these days with so many Coles and Woolworths stores, it’s probably just easier,” she tells SmartCompany.