Waratah Group, a large commercial print and marketing business in Melbourne with around 170 staff, is in external administration.
The move was announced on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission website on Wednesday with Shane Deane of Dye & Co in Hawthorn East appointed as administrator.
It comes less than two weeks after management sent a message to staff advising they would be seeking redundancies to reduce headcount, particularly in the offset production area due to ongoing economic conditions.
The notice published on ASIC indicates Waratah Group Pty Ltd, ACN 607 483 803, is in external administration as of November 6. It also notes the business formerly traded under Docklands Ability Group Pty Ltd.
Waratah Group chief executive officer Brett Chalmers has been contacted for comment but Sprinter had not heard back at the time of publication. Questions will now be asked about debts owed to suppliers of Waratah Group.
Concerns about the sustainability of Waratah Group have hovered for some time and officially came to light in April this year when the Australian Tax Office tried to wind it up over unpaid tax.
The ATO matter was resolved on 28 June, according to ATO lawyer Charles Bavin, but then in October Waratah made a staff announcement regarding the redundancies which again raised concerns about the ongoing financial health of the business.
Questions have also been asked about the status of compulsory superannuation payments for staff and there are also concerns among staff about salary sacrifice payments they have contributed to their own superannuation and what will become of them. One staff member has submitted a superannuation statement that shows this person had not been paid superannuation since July 2018.
Compulsory Superannuation Guarantee rules stipulate a minimum of 9.5 per cent superannuation must be paid to all staff earning over $450 calendar month. The Australian Tax Office (ATO0 rules also say it must be paid at least quarterly. If superannuation payments are not paid on time, the employer faces paying a superannuation guarantee charge.
At the time of the redundancies announcement, Waratah Group chief executive officer Brett Chalmers told Sprinter that all financial matters for Waratah, including superannuation payments and compliance, were being outsourced. Chalmers did not confirm or deny the reports about the unpaid superannuation.
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