Wine com­pany leaves debts

The Napier Mail - - CON­VER­SA­TIONS - MARTY SHARPE

A wine-mak­ing de­scen­dant of one of Hawke’s Bay’s wine pioneers has been made bank­rupt and will soon have his liq­ui­dated com­pany re­moved from the Com­pa­nies Reg­is­ter.

Rob­bie Bird, 63, a founder of Wishart Es­tate Win­ery and the grand­son of Robert Bird, who founded Glen­vale win­ery (now Esk Val­ley) in the 1930s, left un­paid debts of $132,000 with the demise of his com­pany Rob­bie Bird Wines Ltd.

The com­pany was put into liq­ui­da­tion by High Court or­der in 2015 fol­low­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion from Pe­tane Prop­er­ties Ltd, which owns the Wishart win­ery and vine­yards at Bay View, just north of Napier.

Pe­tane sub­mit­ted a claim for $126,372 which was later set­tled by a guar­an­tor. But the $132,794 owed to pref­er­en­tial cred­i­tors and 12 un­se­cured cred­i­tors went un­paid, with liq­uida­tors say­ing all as­sets had been re­alised and the com­pany would soon be re­moved from the Com­pa­nies Reg­is­ter.

Bird was ad­ju­di­cated bank­rupt on a cred­i­tor’s ap­pli­ca­tion to the High Court in Napier in April.

Ac­cord­ing to a liq­uida­tor’s re­port Bird put the com­pany’s demise down to a change in pol­icy af­ter Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping came to power in 2013, which re­duced de­mand for im­ported wines.

‘‘We were more ex­posed than other NZ winer­ies as China was our to­tal mar­ket,’’ Bird told the liq­uida­tors.

Cus­tomers de­layed their com­mit­ment to buy wine and this meant the com­pany couldn’t make wine in 2014 due to a lack of cash flow and a lack of space.

The com­pany con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­at­ing the sale of re­main­ing stock to a cus­tomer in Qing­dao, but that fell through in late 2015.

Liq­uida­tors were able to sell the re­main­ing five bar­rels of blended red wine and 5,500 litres of Hawke’s Bay pinot noir, as well as 18 used wine bar­rels, and two stain­less steel wine tanks.

Bird was a found­ing di­rec­tor of Wishart Es­tate in 1998. He ceased be­ing a di­rec­tor in March 2015.

A spokes­woman for NZ Wine said China cracked down on all forms of cor­rup­tion in 2013.

‘‘A lot of wine pur­chased was pur­chased for gift­ing, not drink­ing. The change in pol­icy meant a pro­hi­bi­tion on of­fi­cials gift­ing wine af­fected the mar­ket and re­duced our ex­ports to China. NZ wine ex­ports to China went from 2.2 mil­lion litres in 2013 to 1.8 mil­lion litres in 2014,’’ she said.

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