Tycoon who tried to save George Calombaris’s restaurant empire from collapse reveals he and the TV chef will NOT get a single cent back from selling off the business
- Radek Sali and George Calombaris won’t get anything from business collapse
- Twelve Melbourne venues closed this week as company went into administration
- One staff member said they hadn’t ‘been told anything’ prior to the public post
- Administrators are now hoping to find potential buyers for affected restaurants
The business tycoon who tried to save George Calombaris’s troubled restaurant empire from collapse said he and the celebrity chef are not expecting any money from placing the business into voluntary administration.
Twelve Melbourne venues closed their doors this week after the celebrity chef’s Made establishment was put into voluntary administration on Monday, leaving about 400 workers in limbo.
Rich lister Radek Sali said he and Made Establishment Group’s directors did everything in their power to prevent it going into administration.
The decision came after it emerged last year Made Establishment staff were back-paid $7.8million in wages and superannuation in 2017.
Rich lister Radek Sali (pictured) said he and Made Establishment Group’s directors did everything in their power to prevent it going into administration.
The business tycoon who tried to save George Calombaris’s troubled restaurant empire from collapse said he and the celebrity chef are not expecting any money from placing the business into voluntary administration. Calombaris pictured with wife Natalie Tricarico in 2017
The Melbourne-based company was fined $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman in July over the underpayments.
Mr Sali, the former boss of Australian vitamins marker Swisse Wellness, has highlighted that Fair Work’s investigation into the underpayment found no indication it was intentional.
It was discovered after Mr Sali, the chairman of investment firm Light Warrior, bought into the business.
But the venues failed to recover from the incident, he said.
‘The reality is the hit each of the businesses took following Fair Work’s handing down of the enforceable undertaking, two years after we repaid staff, was irreparable,’ he said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Sali is expecting to receive nothing by placing the business into administration. KordaMentha were appointed as administrators on Monday.
‘It is our expectation that we will receive zero cents in the dollar from the administration process,’ he said.
The past few weeks have been ‘some of the saddest and most challenging we have experienced in our time in doing business’, Mr Sali said.
‘We did everything in our power to try and avoid this result,’ he said.
‘I am really sorry that we were not successful.’
George Calombaris arrives at the Downing Centre court in Sydney in 2017
The closed-down Hellenic Republic restaurant is pictured in Brunswick on Tuesday
All staff have been paid up to date, will receive their entitlements and be redeployed into other jobs quickly wherever possible, he said.
He has also made an appeal for people to ‘show empathy and respect’.
‘Since considering an administration process, the care and welfare of our team has been the No.1 priority; we now ask the same from the Australian media and general public,’ he said.
The only part of Made Establishment excluded from administration is a chain of four Yo-Chi outlets.
KordaMentha will spend about a month preparing a report on Made Establishment, but creditors will meet for the first time next Thursday.
Dozens of people have already expressed interest in buying the businesses, with the fit-out of the restaurants, their branding if desired, and the ability to use their locations up for sale.
The administrators are closing in on making deals with some interested parties.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show Calombaris was a director at Made until May 2018.
The five current shareholders include Made Establishment Pty Ltd and George C Pty Ltd.
Timeline of Calombaris’ woes
MAY 15, 2014 – The Department of Health investigates after diners who ate at the Hellenic Republic at Kew fell ill. It is later confirmed norovirus affected about 100 people
APRIL, 2017 – It’s revealed about $2.6 million in back payments were dished out to 162 workers employed by Made Establishment because of payroll ‘discrepancies’ dating back to 2011.
MAY 10, 2017 – Calombaris is charged with assault over a fight with a 19-year-old at an A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in Sydney a few days earlier
MAY 16, 2017 – Melbourne man David Peter Schreuder sues the Hellenic Republic restaurant and Made Establishment group over the norovirus encephalitis outbreak
AUGUST 17, 2017 – The chef pleads guilty to assault over the A-League incident
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 – He hands in his Melbourne Victory No. 1 ticket due to the assault
OCTOBER 20, 2017 – Calombaris is fined $1000 for the A-League assault
FEBRUARY 1, 2018 – His assault conviction is overturned on appeal after a District Court judge agreed with Calombaris’ lawyer that he had suffered significant financial and personal loss, and was unlikely to re-offend
JULY 18, 2019 – The Fair Work Ombudsman fines the MasterChef Australia judge and his Made Establishment company $200,000 for underpaying staff at his restaurants by nearly $8 million
JULY 22, 2019 – The West Australian government suspends its tourism campaign featuring Calombaris over the Fair Work Obudsman fine
JULY 23, 2019 – Calombaris and fellow judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan leave MasterChef after contract negotiations fail
FEBRUARY 10, 2020 – Made falls into voluntary administration