Aussie Farmers Direct owes $86.7m

The future of Aussie Farmers Direct looks bleak. No buyers have been found to save the troubled franchise which has debts of $86.7m.

Creditors are expected to be $69.2m out of pocket as KordaMentha administrators Craig Shepard and Leanne Chesser predict only $3.4m can be recovered.

In the months leading up to the business (registered as Stay in Bed Milk & Bread Pty Ltd) and sister business The General Store (TGS) falling into administration management had attempted to secure a buyer, but despite three parties expressing interest in February they were unable to secure a deal.

Management had even considered a public float in mid-2017 to secure additional capital for the loss-making business, which burned through $70m in private investment over four years.

The final death knell for the business came after the investors behind AFD’s holding company withdrew financial support in March following unsuccessful attempts to restructure the business into a profitable operation, leaving the company losing about $500,000 per week without a backer.

In addition to the loss of investment, administrators added that the food, grocery and meal kit delivery business’ strategy was overly focused on sales growth driving unsustainable investment in expensive systems such as IT and logistics infrastructure.

Administrators also agreed with the view of management that it was ultimately unable to compete with Coles and Woolworths.

A second meeting of creditors will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 19 April, at which time the process of formally shutting down the remnants of the business is expected to progress.