Pub closure burns suppliers and staff

20 July, 2012 by

By Sacha Delfosse

One of Adelaide's most well-known and loved hotels, The Crown & Sceptre, has gone into liquidation leaving liquor suppliers and staff owed huge amounts of money.

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The hotel, which was renowned for its extensive back bar and cocktail list, closed its doors earlier this week and went into voluntary liquidation.

The Shout understands that the hotel has been on the market for at least a year and a recent deal to sell the venue fell through.

Liquidator Peter Macks, from Macks Advisory, recently said rising operational costs and a trading downturn resulted in the business accumulating debts of around $1 million.

The Shout understands that the 71 supplier creditors include Coopers, Decant Wines, Empire Liquors, Fine Wine Partners, McLaren Vale Beer, Murray's Craft Brewing Co., Muster Wines & Co., Rockford Wines, ALM, Angove's and Coca-Cola Amatil.

Staff members have told TheShout that their superannuation has not been paid since 2010, a fact they raised with owner Andrew McDowell a few months ago.

But they say McDowell himself is listed among the pub's creditors, with documents provided by liquidators suggesting he is owed $280,000.

"Andrew is also still trying to get paid before the staff have received any compensation including superannuation payouts, which I haven't received since I started working there," said former bartender, Alistair Loose.

Former restaurant manager Pierre Marlard told The Shout: "We found out about three months ago that our superannuation was not being paid, so what we did is confront Andrew who told us the problem was with the superannuation fund and that he would chase it up, but nothing happened."

According to Marlard staff only found out about the closure when the liquidators called them on June 17 to inform them not to come into work because the venue was closed for good.

In the year he has been working at the Crown & Sceptre, Marlard said staff were fielding up to five calls a day from liquor suppliers chasing pending accounts.

Up to 15 staff members are currently owed their last week's pay as well as annual leave, on top of the unpaid superannuation, Marlard claimed. He also accused McDowell of misappropriating several thousand dollars in staff tips.

"We did a fair bit of research ourselves… After looking at the breakdown of everything we realised we will probably never see that money. We just hope he, and people working in the industry, understand it's not right to do this," Marlard said.

McDowell and Macks Advisory refused several requests for comments for this article.