Thursday December 27, 2018
Dear colleagues, friends and business associates
In what has been a most difficult and emotionally draining experience, I took the heartbreaking decision earlier today to place our 17-year-old business, Richard Gunner’s Fine Meats, into voluntary administration.
We and all our colleagues have worked very hard for the last few years to address the many challenging events and circumstances we faced in these difficult times, but even our best endeavours failed to raise the capital we require to continue to revive the business.
More recently our efforts were compounded by beef prices doubling to record highs, a decline in retail sales across the board and increasing purchase price pressure from supermarkets, the advent of online sellers focused on home deliveries and, of course, the devastating impact of the drought on supply and costs.
The fire at Thomas Foods’ Murray Bridge abattoir only added to the tribulations, forcing us to find a replacement processor – and then to be told that they could no longer process meat products at a rate we could afford within our particular business model.
With nowhere to go in South Australia to process our meat our way and at sustainable cost – and exacerbated by an extremely soft Christmas sales period – we were left with no choice but to call in administrators Rodgers Reidy.
I can assure you all that our first priority is to meet all our commitments – to staff, to creditors, to suppliers and to customers – and we will be working closely with the team at Rodgers Reidy to achieve this.
In the meantime, we have been assured by Rodgers Reidy that it is business as usual while they look to find a buyer for the business. That means the wholesale operation of Richard Gunner’s Fine Meats and the four Feast! Fine Foods retail stores at the Adelaide Central Market, The Parade in Norwood, the Unley Shopping Centre and Victor Harbor, will remain open and continue to trade, as will our two Mount Barker-based butcheries, The Chop Shop and Farm Direct Meats.
We wish to thank you all for your passion, dedication, friendship and support over the journey.
To our loyal and hardworking team, some of whom have been with us since we started out 17 years ago, thanks so much for giving us the privilege of bringing quality meat products to the dining tables of households around South Australia and onto the menus of some of the very best restaurants in the country.
To our many producers, it has been a rare privilege and honour to work collaboratively with such a passionate group of South Australians in bringing our products to market and in helping each other to develop our brands, tell our stories and celebrate our successes.
To our valued suppliers that have continued to provide us with quality produce as we have stepped through these difficult times, we express our sincere gratitude. Our efforts have not quite got us to where we hoped to be and we have engaged the administrators to restructure our business with the objective of both maximising the repayment of existing debt and creating future supply opportunities to the restructured operations. While our loss is absolute, it remains our objective to assist the administrators in ensuring any loss incurred by our suppliers is kept to a minimum.
Both Elizabeth and I wish you well. We also believe that our unfortunate experience does not need to befall others, that we, as consumers, hold the future of small and medium sized family businesses in our hands.
We all need to think about where we spend our shopping dollars and look to support businesses like ours, run by people in our communities who work hard to employ locals and deliver high quality alternatives to mass market products.
We urge you to back the local butcher with your hard-earned, likewise the local newsagent, green grocer, baker and other independents whenever you can.
For without them, you can be sure your retail world will look very dull.