The private equity owner of Jones the Grocer says it continues to see “strong potential” in the collapsed gourmet retailer.
A spokesperson for L Capital Asia, the private equity arm of fashion powerhouse and luxury goods retailer Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, told SmartCompany administrators were called in to Jones the Grocer and its related entities late last week “to afford the Australian operations some time to restore the business to a financially viable position, as well as preserve the business and value going forward”.
“L Capital Asia continues to see strong potential in the Jones the Grocer business and will be supportive of plans that allow for the continued operations of the business,” the spokesperson says.
“The administrator has indicated that with the support of L Capital Asia it is very much business as usual through the administration process.”
But it appears the resignation of former chief executive and owner John Manos is what set in motion the chain of events leading to the collapse of Jones the Grocer, its distribution arm Senselle Food Distribution and sister companies, burger chain Charlie & Co and Becasse Bakery.
Manos purchased Jones the Grocer in 2005 and, in 2012, sold a 50% stake to L Capital Asia, which also has stakes in Australian sportswear brand 2XU and swimwear label Seafolly.
According to L Capital Asia, Manos resigned as sole director of the Australian operations on December 10, prompting the appointment of a new director, Mark Watson, who decided to appointed voluntary administrators.
But Manos told SmartCompany earlier this week “a difference in vision at board level” led to the collapse of the business. SmartCompany understands Manos remains involved with the business as a director of the six related companies.
Manos said he is “focused on finding a solution to these differences with L Capital Asia so we can maximise the value for all stakeholders, including long-term customers, suppliers and staff”.
“I am keen to see the business continue ordinary operations and the strong relationships I have built with all our stakeholders over nine years maintained,” he said.
A meeting of creditors for all companies in the Jones the Grocer group is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on December 24. Administrator Jason Stone previously told SmartCompany the plan is to “restructure the company so it can continue to trade”.
Including the Senselle distribution centre, the Jones the Grocer group employs more than 200 people and was reportedly turning over approximately $33 million in 2012.