STILL OPEN: Fundies Wholefood Market has been placed under voluntary administration but is still open and will trade as normal.
STILL OPEN: Fundies Wholefood Market has been placed under voluntary administration but is still open and will trade as normal.

Beloved Lismore health food shop goes into administration

ONE OF the last remaining health food shops in Lismore has gone into voluntary administration.

Long-established health food shop and chain store Fundies Wholefood Market on Keen Street shared the news via social media following the closure of some of its sister stores in Queensland and New South Wales, owned under the parent company The Natural Grocery Company.

Fundies' management posted "a heartfelt update from our team" on Facebook advising customers of the news.

"Many of you may be aware of this week's announcement that our parent company The Natural Grocery Company has gone into voluntary administration," the post read.

"This was a very hard step for us to take, but a necessary one to ensure the long-term future of the business.

"Our team and external experts are making extensive efforts to turn things around and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support.

"Your belief in the organics industry and care for our people means a great deal."

Management assured customers it was business as usual while they were "working very hard to create a sustainable future".

"We truly believe in this industry, our passionate team, the power of good food & supporting our local suppliers," they said.

"Our Fundies Paddington & Lismore stores are open and trading as normal.

"We are incredibly grateful that you choose to support your local store. So thank you again & hope to see you in store soon."

The Natural Grocery Company took over the Lismore Fundies store about two-and-a-half years ago but the company has been under financial pressure, with some sister stores in Queensland and New South Wales forced to close down this year.

A statement from The Natural Grocery Company said: "Most of the stores in the chain were still operating".

"The Board of The Natural Grocery Company has taken the difficult decision to put the Company into voluntary administration and appointed Mr Timothy Cook of Balance Insolvency as a Voluntary Administrator.

"Continued margin pressure and the broader distribution of health food channel products into the mass market retailers had severely impacted business performance.

"The Company instituted a comprehensive turnaround plan in early 2019, but despite the significant efforts of management, in-store teams and the Board, the plan failed to yield the required results.

"The Company and its directors are working closely with advisers on a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) proposal to present to the Administrator to transition the business into a smaller and sustainable store network.

"Mr Fergus Collins has been appointed as acting CEO to see the Company through the administration process. Fergus is an experienced retailer having previously held the positions of CEO for Metcash Grocery business and CEO of Metcash Liquor business, Australian Liquor Marketers.

"Under the DOCA a large number of the employees will continue with the business and all employee entitlements will be paid in full and the company's creditors are anticipated to receive a significant dividend

The Natural Grocery Company spokeswoman said the Lismore Store would remain open and trading as normal.