21/08/2008 - 15:22

Receivers appointed to Meads food empire

21/08/2008 - 15:22

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Is it a sign of the times? St George Bank has moved to take control of Warren Mead’s restaurant empire, appointing Shaun Fraser and Simon Read from McGrathNicol as receivers this morning.

Receivers appointed to Meads food empire

Is it a sign of the times? St George Bank has moved to take control of Warren Mead’s restaurant empire, appointing Shaun Fraser and Simon Read from McGrathNicol as receivers this morning.

While details are sketchy, the firm confirmed the pair of insolvency specialists had been appointed by St George as receivers and managers over companies linked to the Meads Hospitality chain and to one restaurant owned personally by Mr Mead.

Whether or not the bank’s move is a result of recent market developments or simply the end game stemming from longer-running financial issues is not yet known.

Mr Mead has not returned recent phone calls but staff contacted by WA Business News confirmed today that they had been informed of ongoing negotiations regarding the business’s future. They also said they were continuing to receive wages and expected the restaurants would remain operational.

Business broker GMO, which was managing the sale of the assets, said it still had prospective buyers for two of the restaurants - one from an ex-hotelier and the other from a current restauranter.

Previous offers to buy part or all of the group's assets were withdrawn after prospective buyers learnt of disappointing results for some of the restaurants during the 2008 financial year.

"The businesses are still iconic sites capable of producing high profits," GMO's Murray Brown told WA Business News.

Meads is one of Perth’s best known restaurant groups, the only one operating at the top end of the dining market and one which would have been expected to do well under the boom conditions that prevailed at least until the beginning of this calendar year.

Over almost two decades, Mr Mead grew the empire to as many as five outlets operating concurrently and had a sixth proposed at Exchange Plaza in the city as recently as last year before he started to reduce his presence in the market.

Late last year, Mr Mead sold The Oyster Bar on The Beach at North Fremantle to publicans Craig Hutchison and Patrick Prendiville, and his former general manager Anthony Posniak.

Mr Mead also abandoned plans to develop on Oyster Bar restaurant in the lobby of Exchange Plaza last year, selling the lease to Rob and Sam Franchina’s SAR Group Pty Ltd.

In May, he put the remainder of his group on the market, including The Oyster Bar Mead’s Mosman Bay, which was to be sold through expressions of interest, The Oyster Bar Black Tom’s in West Perth, at an asking price of $1.25 million, and The Oyster Bar on the Foreshore in South Perth, at an asking price of $2.6 million.

Also up for sale is the MV Moonlight Express, a 26-metre luxury boat which caters for up to 110 people and is available for cocktail functions and events, at an asking price of $1.5 million. Mr Mead’s share in a stratatitled, share-cropping vineyard in Margaret River, which produces Black Tom’s labelled wine, is also on the market.

These assets were withdrawn from the market about two weeks ago.

In August last year, Mr Mead put up for sale his collection of 25 paintings by renowned Fremantle artist, Ian de Souza which were originally commissioned in the early nineties when he briefly co-owned Fremantle’s Esplanade hotel.

In 2002, he sold Black Tom’s Bar in Subiaco, now called The Vic, to Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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