Two of Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay companies placed in liquidation, staff owed $290,000

Two of the Sacred Hill wine group’s Hawke’s Bay-based companies have been placed in receivership, and one of them owes staff $290,000.

Receivers were called in to Sacred Hill Vineyards by Westpac bank in May, followed by Sacred Hill Marlborough Vineyards, Sacred Hill Family Vineyards and Sacred Hill Global Ltd a month later when it was revealed the companies had more than $98 million in outstanding debts.

Sacred Hill Vineyards and Sacred Hill Family Vineyards were last week placed in liquidation, with associate partner at Ernst and Young Rhys Cain appointed to the role.

Cain said he was yet to meet with the receivers, Rees Logan and Andrew McKay of BDO, but hoped to do so sometime this week.

“It’s very early days.”

He said the liquidation process would not impact on the receivership process.

Specialist contract winemaker VinLink Marlborough looked set to buy the Marlborough vineyards business which had been placed on the market alongside the Sacred Hill Group’s other wineries, brand and assets.

Settlement was yet to be completed, with Logan unavailable for comment.

The Marlborough vineyard owed the majority of the group’s $98 million of debts and liabilities, with $69.1m in liabilities to creditors.

A receiver’s report published last week said Westpac was the largest creditor, owed $52m, while staff were owed $290,000.

David Mason is the sole director of Sacred Hill Vineyards Ltd, based in Hawke’s Bay.

The report stated he attributed the failure of Sacred Hill to a number of factors, including inventory levels being materially overstated which had been the security against high debts, and a poor 2021 vintage and high US exchange rates contributing to poor financial performance.

Upon discovering the inventory level was overstated in 2019, Sacred Hill Group decided to restructure and separate its Marlborough and Hawkes Bay operations, with a view to
divesting the Hawkes Bay operations to reduce debt.

An attempt was made to sell the Hawkes Bay operations in 2020, with a conditional agreement entered into, however, this subsequently fell through, the report stated.

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