Finance

Rich Lister Jan Cameron’s fall from grace continues with Postie Plus going into administration

Cara Waters /

There was a time when everything Jan Cameron touched turned to gold.

But the collapse yesterday of New Zealand retailer Postie Plus, in which Cameron was the largest shareholder, is the latest blow to the former Rich Lister.

Colin McCloy and David Bridgman from PwC were appointed as administrators to Postie Plus yesterday.

The 104-year-old clothing and accessories chain’s 82 stores will continue to trade while the administrators look for a buyer. 

“We are committed to doing the best we can for all parties to determine the best way forward in a short time frame,” administrator Colin McCloy said in a statement.

The writing has been on the wall for Postie Plus for a while with the retailer posting losses in 2012, 2013 and the first half of 2014.

The retailer tried to reduce its debt by selling off its school uniform business to The Warehouse Group in February this year but continued to lose sales to online rivals. 

Fairfax reports Cameron has a 19% stake in Postie Plus held through a nominee company but a spokesperson for PwC told SmartCompany the administrator was unable to provide information on individual shareholders. 

Cameron spent years of her life building her fortune but a recent series of bad business decisions and ongoing disputes has seen her wealth quickly eroded.

Her first company was Alp Sports, which she sold in 1987. The funds from this sale went into founding Kathmandu with Cameron’s then husband John Pawson.

The outdoor clothing retailer performed strongly and in 2006, Cameron, then the sole owner, sold Kathmandu to a private equity firm.

Initially, Cameron was going to retire off the $247 million she made in selling up but in pursuit of more money to fund her philanthropy and environmental activism she bought discount retail chain Retail Adventures out of receivership in 2009 for $85 million.

In 2012 Retail Adventures went into administration  for a second time with $200 million in debt, but the following year Cameron bought it back after convincing creditors to accept $5.5 million in return rather than place it in liquidation.

This was despite opposition from administrators Deloitte, who argued creditors had more to gain from rejecting her buy-out offer, even going so far as to tell ASIC the company may have traded while insolvent.

But the deed of company arrangement was set aside in the NSW Supreme Court in January and the liquidator is now claiming $100 million from Cameron for insolvent trading, preferential payments and an invalid loan.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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