Palmers Westgate liquidated after store closure, demolition six years after being built

The company which ran an almost half-hectare Auckland shop is being liquidated after the big box store where it traded from was demolished just six years after it was built.

Palmers Westgate Trading is now in the hands of PKF’s Christopher McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence, owing creditors just under $200,000.

In 2020, the garden centre off Maki St was knocked down.

It had been built in 2014 but ceased trading partly due to Covid and was demolished to make way for the expansion of Mitre 10.

Two years ago, the Herald reported the store sprawling over half a hectare was being demolished only six years after it was developed.

Mark Gunton, the founder and owner of NZ Retail Property Group which owns Westgate, announced in 2020 that the big store was coming down.

It wasn’t all bad news for the landlord or for shoppers: the property was being demolished to expand the Mitre 10 Mega by 16,000sq m, equivalent to more than two rugby fields.

All that is rising near the under-construction $100m Costco, with the world’s second-largest retailer after Walmart picking Westgate to make its New Zealand debut soon.

Costco is now well advanced with that store, preparing to trade in the next few months after hiring staff.

In mid-2020, Palmers said it was shutting at Westgate where it opened before Christmas, 2014.

The company now being liquidated was incorporated in 2019 to take over Palmers Westgate, previously owned and operated by an independent franchisee, the liquidators said in their December 3 initial report.

“We understand that the franchisee encountered financial difficulties and asked to exit the franchise agreement in late 2018. The business was acquired by the company on April 1, 2019, and steps were taken to turn the business around,” the liquidators wrote in a report out on December 3.

This included negotiation by the leaseholder to surrender the lease and for the company to lease a smaller site to be developed.

But there were delays in getting new premises and the company continued to pay rent on the original premises, the liquidators said.

In early 2020, the shop was forced to shut because of the Covid-19 lockdown, the liquidators noted.

The directors did not believe that the business was sustainable. It opened around May/June 2020 to liquidate its stock and fittings, then shut permanently.

“We understand that since April 2020, the company had been in dispute with the landlord over the agreement to lease. As the dispute has not been resolved and the company has no remaining assets, the shareholders resolved to put the company into liquidation,” the liquidators said.

Palmers Franchise Systems of Khyber Pass Rd in Grafton, Borich & Associates, Godwin Turner Lawyer and GG Partnership are listed as creditors.

The amount of money to be realised from the liquidation is unknown at this stage.

Directors are Kevin Brewer, Geoff MacRae and Keith Routledge and the company is wholly owned by Palmers Franchise Trading Company.

A Palmer’s spokeswoman said in 2020 the retailer had planned to shut the store and relocate to a smaller location adjacent to the site before the mandatory lockdown, but the forced closure of stores and lost revenue had made that unfeasible.

The decision to close Palmers Westgate was “made in isolation” and no further store closures were planned, the spokeswoman said.

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