Toowoomba sign business owes debts after shifting operation to China

A meeting of creditors has been called to wind up Toowoomba’s Orford Sign Shop and Orford Refrigeration after the business closed its doors in 2011 while owing more than $2m in staff entitlements.

The family business was owned by Toowoomba brothers Ian and John Orford before Ian’s daughter Corby Orford took over the business shortly before its collapse in May 2011.

An anonymous Toowoomba business owner told Australian Printer the refrigeration business began struggling due to an influx of Chinese manufactured refrigerators which were flooding into the country at the time.   

The source says financial strain from the Chinese imports caused both Orford Refrigeration and Orford Sign Shop to close down and alleges several people in the town are still owed money by the business.

About 180 Toowoomba-based workers lost their jobs, however it is alleged that just two weeks later Orford Group opened up a new factory in China and began importing Chinese refrigerators. 

The Orford Group was contacted but declined to comment. Australian Printer has been informed that Corby is currently on holidays.

In September 2011 Corby was criticised in Toowoomba’s local media for speaking at Melbourne’s Turnaround Conference, the event was a case study on how to "turnaround" a business.

At the time, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Dave Oliver slammed Corby’s actions.

Oliver said, “She has no right to be sprouting about how she turned around. Rather, she turned away her local community and workers and sent those jobs overseas.”

Liquidators Pilot Partners have scheduled a creditors meetings to take place on July 27 in Brisbane to address debts owed and wind up the business.


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