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ASX closes higher after US Fed leaves rates on hold and indicates rate hike ‘unlikely’, NAB half-year profit drops 11.9pc — as it happened



The restaurant business is a tough game, with one of the highest rates of business failure at the best of times.

But the period since COVID hit has been the worst of times for many eateries, especially since government subsidies ended and interest rates surged.

Few will fail more spectacularly than Good Group Australia.

The Australian offshoot of a New Zealand company was incorporated in late 2018, its Australian restaurant plans no doubt delayed by COVID, it opened its first eatery in December 2021 — Botswana Butchery located in the heart of Sydney’s traditional financial district in Martin Place.

White and Wongs followed in the same location in February 2022.

Botswana Butchery Melbourne commenced trading in May 2022, Wong Baby Chapel in December that year, White and Wongs Chadstone in March 2023 and Botswana Butchery Canberra in January of this year.

The two White and Wongs restaurants were paired with cocktail venues called Sardine Bar – although, given the financial outcome, it doesn’t sound like they were packing them in.

Wong Baby Chapel lasted less than a year, closing its doors last October, White and Wongs Chadstone closed the same month the Canberra restaurant opened, while White and Wongs Sydney was shut by the administrators after they were called in just over a month ago by landlords fed up with unpaid rents.

Those landlords are apparently owed more than $1.8 million, according to the creditors report by administrators Andrew Sallway and Duncan Clubb from BDO.

Among the key creditors are:

  • Staff, who are owed more than half a million dollars in entitlements (which they should recover through the Commonwealth’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee) and almost $100,000 more in outstanding superannuation (which they have to queue with other priority creditors to possibly get some return).
  • The Commonwealth Bank, which is owed close to $10 million, although it is a secured creditor putting it at the front of the queue for repayment.
  • The Australian Taxation Office, with more than $3.5 million in unpaid accounts.
  • Unsecured creditors are owed almost $4.5 million, including the landlords and various suppliers.

There’s likely to be some pretty angry people on Microsoft Teams when those creditors meet next Tuesday, May 7 to decide whether to wind up the firm.

That could put another roughly 200 staff out of work, as the three Botswana Butchery restaurants are still trading.

The administrators say the pandemic had a material impact on the financial performance of the group, but poor financial and strategic planning also contributed.

The White and Wongs restaurants and Wong Baby Chapel were never profitable during their brief existence.

My colleague Emilia Terzon recently did a story about the struggles of the hospitality sector.

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