Fantastic Furniture owner hires advisers

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    Simone Ziaziaris

    The owner of brands including Freedom Furniture and Best & Less has hired financial advisers specialising in helping distressed companies, but says it remains profitable despite problems at its parent company.

    Steinhoff Asia Pacific said the appointment of Minter Ellison and Ferrier Hodgson to provide legal, financial and corporate advice was supported by its local lenders and was a "prudent step" while Steinhoff International Holdings worked through "significant uncertainty".
    Steinhoff Asia Pacific owns brands including Fantastic Furniture, Freedom, Snooze and Harris Scarfe.

    "Steinhoff Asia Pacific and its business are not in distress and are trading normally," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

    Steinhoff International's chief executive, Markus Jooste, stepped down earlier this month after the company said it had launched an investigation into accounting irregularities.

    CEO Michael Ford said the local company was an "independent, profitable and financially strong business delivering positive cash flows".

    Steinhoff Asia Pacific chief executive Michael Ford said the local company, which also owns Fantastic Furniture, Snooze and Harris Scarfe, was an "independent, profitable and financially strong business delivering positive cash flows".

    It had its own banking facilities in Australia and was not party to any of the banking facilities of, or dependent on working capital support from, its parent company.

    The company was in its peak trading period and had had some "exceptionally strong" trading across its retail brands, he said.

    Total system sales across Australia and New Zealand were up 3.1 per cent for the 12 months to November 30, compared to the same time a year ago.

    In the month of December so far, sales were up 12.4 per cent compared to the same period last year, Mr Ford said.

    "These are healthy sales figures for a business group that is clearly performing well," he added.

    "For all our brands in the Steinhoff Asia Pacific group, and our 10,000 employees, it is business as usual."

    Reuters reported last month that Steinhoff International did not tell investors about almost $US1 billion in transactions with a related company despite laws that some experts believe require it to do so.

    The South Africa-headquartered, Dutch-registered Steinhoff has also been under investigation for suspected accounting irregularities by the state prosecutor in Germany since 2015. Steinhoff, Europe's second-largest furniture retailer by sales, has said that was a tax case relating to whether revenues were booked correctly, and taxable profit correctly declared.

    It is unclear what accounting irregularities the company was referring to in its statement earlier this month.

    AAP with Reuters

    courtesy of SMH
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    ( DYOR )

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