Historic company stripped and sold

SIX years ago former Tasmanian timber giant Gunns Ltd moved into a $4 million, purpose-built administrative headquarters at Launceston's former Ogilvie Park.

About the same time Prime Minister John Howard officially opened three new state-of-the-art kilns.

The kilns had been built to take the company's historic kiln-dried timber yards at the back of the headquarters into the next century.

Next week the task begins in earnest of selling every on-site item - even down to the trademark painted cows that have stood, seemingly grazing, in front of the spacious headquarters almost since it opened.

Melbourne-based receiver and managers KordaMentha, appointed by Gunns' main lenders when the company brought in administrators last November, have decided to sell what they can from the site.

This will happen before what remains of the 100-strong Gunns' administrative staff move to new premises.

About 40 staff will relocate to the former Forest Enterprises Australia headquarters at the site of the old Charles Street primary school by the end of this month.

National hardware retailer Bunnings paid nearly $14 million for the Gunns' Lindsay Street land in June.

Bunnings plans a $40 million redevelopment that will require demolition of the timber company's multimillion-dollar administrative headquarters.

Gunns chief finance officer Calton Frame said yesterday that an online sale of the contents of the Lindsay Street headquarters would start next week.

Everything other than structural materials like doors and walls now has price tags from the ornamental vases in the entrance foyer to the meeting room Tasmanian timber table and chairs.

Sale of surplus machinery after the shutdown of the Lindsay Street timber yards and several other sites has already started.

That includes chip hoppers, shipping containers, skip bins and forklifts.

Mr Frame said that KordaMentha had decided to put the five ornamental cows grazing in the company headquarters' grounds out to greener pastures.

The money raised from their sale will go to the City Mission .

What remains of the 141-year-old Launceston-based company's historical records will be given to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

Mr Frame said that they consisted mainly of a photographic record of the company's activities since the founding partners John and Thomas Gunn in 1871.

More information regarding the online auctions can be found online at www.graysonline.com or by calling (03) 8552 4444.

A second creditors' meeting will be held later this month when more than 800 unsecured Gunns creditors will find out whether they have any hope of a return on the money owed to them.

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