Layoffs have begun at Pumpkin Patch after no buyer has emerged. The struggling childrenswear company appointed administrators and entered receivership in October, and confirmed this week that the search for a buyer has met its end.rn
Receiver Brendon Gibson from KordaMentha says all stock will be sold and the business is to be wound down.
This week will see the loss of 63 staff from Pumpkin Patch’s head office. Gibson says these staff will receive holiday pay and outstanding wages, but indicated to Stuff that redundancy claims would not be met.
First Union has called on KordaMentha to guarantee that the workers will receive their full entitlements. It has also revealed that some workers have found their health insurance coverage is at risk after Pumpkin Patch allowed their premiums to go unpaid for the year August 2016-17.
“Honestly things are going from bad to worse for head office and distribution centre workers at Pumpkin Patch,” says First Union organiser Lisa Meto Fox. “As if job losses weren’t enough, now those who had insurance cover paid for by Pumpkin Patch have learned they might not have coverage after all. If this is the case that means people are going to miss out on things like health insurance.”
“This reinforces the need for redundancy payments to help support people who are being put out of work. The receivers should do the right thing and commit to meeting all of the workers’ entitlements.”
Flight Centre NZ revealed today it had been in touch with Pumpkin Patch’s HR department offering to fast-track former Pumpkin Patch employees into the travel industry. It says retail expansion, newly-acquired businesses and growing profits have created a number of vacancies at Flight Centre.
“We sympathise with the tough position these employees are in and recognise that they have good customer service skills and sale experience that would make them an asset to our company,” says Flight Centre NZ peopleworks leader Michaela Connor.
Flight Centre will fast-track outgoing Pumpkin Patch staff to the final stages of its hiring process, and offers a training programme to help them learn the ropes of the travel industry.
As of early November, Pumpkin Patch had about 1000 staff based in Australia and 600 staff based in New Zealand. The closure of 27 stores in Australia and seven stores in New Zealand was actioned earlier this month, with job losses of up to 145 people.
Gibson told the NBR on Tuesday it was too soon to say when individual stores would close, but KordaMentha’s intention was all would remain trading until the end of the year. The liquidation process would likely take until February to complete, he said.
All Pumpkin Patch stock is now on sale. The company has confirmed via its Facebook page that all gift vouchers will be honoured on a “dollar for dollar” basis: “For example, a $40 purchase can be paid for with a $20 gift voucher and $20 cash; a $100 purchase with a $50 gift voucher and $50 cash etc. You do not have to use all of your voucher at once.”