THE newly appointed administrator of Northern Tasmanian processor Tamar Valley Dairy will seek expressions of interest in a business sale or restructure as a matter of urgency.
The Launceston-based family business appointed Melbourne-based Deloitte Restructuring Services as administrator yesterday after owner-operator Archie Matteo called together some of his 170 permanent and casual staff on Monday to inform them of the move.
The 17-year-old business has been talked up by both levels of government as a rare successful and expanding Tasmanian manufacturer for two years after receiving more than $600,000 in state government funding in 2011 towards its new $10 million River Street factory.
But it has struggled since the expansion and since signing a long-term contract to supply yoghurt to Coles supermarkets nationally last year.
Deloitte partner Glen Kanevsky said that he and joint administrator Tim Norman would be working closely with all key stakeholders to allow the business to continue to operate as usual.
Mr Norman said that the immediate priority was to begin an urgent expression of interest process to recapitalise or sell the business.
The Examiner's attempts to contact Mr Matteo for comment yesterday were unsuccessful but Mr Kanevsky said that the business had been challenged by a slowdown in sales and pressure on margins.
It is understood that a Tasmanian business consortium, which had previously inquired about buying into Tamar Valley Dairy, is interested in talking investment in a bigger proportion of the company than initially proposed.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Tasmanian secretary John Short said that the union was hopeful that the operation would have a long-term future as an ongoing concern.
He said that Deloittes administrators had told the 110 full-time staff that their entitlements were secure.
``There are three scenarios - a restructure and ongoing operation under the existing owner, it gets sold as a going concern or the company is liquidated,'' Mr Short said.
``We hope it's one of the first two - that would be best for shareholders and staff.''
A spokesman for Coles said that the giant supermarket chain would be doing all it could alongside Tamar Valley's other customers to help the business through ``this difficult time.''
Tasmanian Department of Economic Development secretary Mark Kelleher said department officials would discuss the best government support it could provide the company at a meeting with administrators today.
State Opposition finance spokesman Peter Gutwein said that Tasmania could not afford more job losses.
``We are very concerned for all the staff and workers during what will be a difficult and challenging time,'' he said.
New federal Bass MHR Andrew Nikolic said that he'd had a long association with Tamar Valley Dairy and had a high regard for the product.
``They will be trying to trade out of this and I'd be disappointed if there is too much public commentary on this that would compromise that in any way,'' he said.
A first creditor's meeting has been called for Wednesday, October 2.