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Borders Australia updates creditors and unpaid staff

Administrators for Australia’s bankrupt REDgroup Retail, the company that owns book retail chains Borders, Whitcoulls, and Angus & Roberstson, held their first creditors’ meetings on Monday in Melbourne and Auckland, New Zealand.

Steve Sherman, from bankruptcy administrator Ferrier Hodgson, told attendees that the bookseller had close to $170 million AUD in debt (approximately $168 million Cdn.) and $6.4 million in cash, when the group entered voluntary administration as of Feb. 17.

Australian website Bookseller+Publisher reports that unsecured creditors, including publishers, are owed $44 million (REDgroup staff is currently owed $7.8 million AUD). The only secured creditor is REDgroup’s owner, private equity group Pacific Equity Partners, which is owed $118 million AUD. According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, “The 80 creditors also heard Borders was holding $45 million in stock and had only $1 million in the bank, while Angus & Robertson’s bank balance was $2.9 million.”

Within the next three days, a decision will be made as to which of the 169 Angus & Robertson, 67 Whitcoulls, and 26 Borders stores will close.

No official word yet on how the bankruptcies will affect Kobo. The Canadian e-book retailer is part owned by REDgroup and Borders U.S. (unrelated to Borders Australia), which declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16.

In Australia, Kobo eReaders are exclusively sold through Borders retail stores. In the U.S. the devices are also available at Walmart. Both the Kobo eReaders and e-books can still be purchased through borders.com.au and borders.com.