Printing company goes from buying spree to belly-up
PROMINENT businessman Chris Krieger says his family's company has not "phoenixed” anyone.
Speaking to the NewsMail yesterday, Mr Krieger said he understood there were disgruntled former employees upset after losing their jobs and looking to discredit the company.
His comments come after Krico Pty Ltd, the parent company of Chameleon Group, went into liquidation last week. A new company, Chameleon Group Australia Pty Ltd, is now trading in its place.
The new entity was set up in October with Mr Krieger's long-term partner Emma Van Der Pluym as sole owner.
Mr Krieger is the son of Kevin Krieger, owner of Krico. In 2013, Chris Krieger was banned from being a director of a business for six years after being convicted in a Bundaberg court of insurance fraud.
Chris Krieger, who now operates out of the Fraser Coast, yesterday moved to reassure suppliers and the community the business was moving forward and had a bright future.
The company had operations in Bundaberg, Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton and the Sunshine Coast.
No offices across the region have been closed, but the change has led to the digital print hub being moved from Bundaberg to Hervey Bay.
The liquidation of Krico is being handled by de Vries Tayeh.
A company spokesman, Troy Graham, yesterday said though it was early days in the process, about $4m was thought to be owed to creditors.
Mr Graham said an early priority was to work through the entitlements for about 10 staff who were not offered work with the new company.
He said 40 people were re-appointed.
Mr Krieger, Chameleon Group's CEO, claimed former employees were trying to discredit him.
"It's not a very nice thing for people to do, messing with your life, we all lose jobs from time to time,” he said.
Phoenixing company is where the assets of one limited company are moved to another legal entity.
When questioned if it was a "phoenix” move, Mr Krieger said "it definitely was not”.
"A phoenix would be if you just left all your debts,” he said.
"(If you) didn't pay them and went and started another company up. "I can guarantee you I have not done that.
"I've tried my very utmost and left myself dry fixing up hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who were owed money.”
Mr Krieger said there was limited impact on anybody in the local community.
"At the end of the day I was the biggest loser out of the whole thing,” he said.
"I invested a lot of money into that company and now it's all gone.”
He confirmed he has lost $2.8m in the parent company.
The businessman said there was a number of reasons why the debt accumulated.
"It was not just one thing, we grew rather fast, but we are starting to come to terms with that now,” Mr Krieger said.
"Over the last three to four years we went on a bit of a buying spree I suppose.”
The NewsMail understands this includes the purchase of Bundaberg's Sticker Company and McTaggarts the Printers.
"We didn't realise all these business we bought were going broke,” Mr Krieger said.
"We inherited all the bad ways of doing business.”
He advised there was no money owing to people in the local region.
"I don't think there is anyone locally who we owe money to,” he said. "We just want to reassure people it's business as usual after having to let the other business go.”
Mr Krieger said as part of the liquidation the business had been placed on the market by the de Vries Tayeh but he was optimistic they would be able to buy it back once the appropriate processes had been worked through.
LIQUIDATORS, de Vries Tayeh, confirmed Krico Pty Ltd was in about $4M of debt and was placed into liquidation on May 15.
Spokesman Troy Graham said
the first priority was to look after staff who lost their job because of the failed company.
"Upon our appointment we don't trade the company on - we terminate employees,” he said.
"Now all employees were terminated and some were offered new employment by that third party.”
Employees who were not offered work are being dealt with as part of the liquidation.