Cameron to pay $14m to settle claim

Jan Cameron
Jan Cameron

TASMANIAN businesswoman Jan Cameron has agreed to pay almost $14 million to settle an insolvent trading claim made against her.

The settlement gives creditors some relief, and has allowed the Chickenfeed and Kathmandu founder to avoid a public examination and possible court action after the collapse of her company, Retail Adventures.

Retail Adventures was Australia’s largest retail company and ran about 30 Chickenfeed stores in Tasmania, as well as Crazy Clarkes, Sam’s Warehouse and Go-Lo interstate.

It went into voluntary administration in October 2012 after recording debts of up to $200 million.

Deloitte has been pursuing Ms Cameron for more than $100 million for insolvent trading, preferential payments and an invalid loan.

Creditors of Retail Adventures were informed of the settlement this week by Deloitte liquidator Vaughn Strawbridge.

Mr Strawbridge said mediation held with Ms Cameron last month had failed, and Deloitte was in the process of starting legal action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the loss suffered by creditors.

The settlement offer of $13.84 million was accepted by the liquidators last week, and Mr Strawbridge told creditors the time and cost associated with court action weighed heavily on the decision.

‘‘Funds received from this and earlier settlements are more than 3.5 times the amount offered under the deed of company arrangement proposed by Ms Cameron in August 2013,’’ Mr Strawbridge said.

Ms Cameron was due to face a public examination this week to answer claims that the company traded while insolvent, which have since been called off.

Action against Ms Cameron’s companies DSG Holdings and Bicheno Investments for voidable transactions had already begun, and DSG entered receivership last month, spelling a possible end to the Crazy Clarkes and Sam’s Warehouse outlets.

Ms Cameron used the companies to buy back the failed discount retailer last year and convinced creditors to accept a $5.5 million return rather than place the company into liquidation.

The Supreme Court of NSW overturned the offer, which would have given creditors only 6¢ in the dollar, and ordered that the company be wound up.

Mr Strawbridge said he expected creditors to now be able to retrieve more than 21¢ in the dollar under the settlement.

Ms Cameron, a 60-year-old philanthropist, environmentalist and animal welfare advocate, told Fairfax Media last month that she ‘‘failed and had paid the price for that failure’’ when it came to her retail empire.