Buzzle falls out of the Apple tree

Buzzle falls out of the Apple tree

Buzzle, the conglomerate of Apple resellers which formed last year, has sunk into receivership.

KPMG has been appointed administrator of the group, which was in discussions over its future with Apple during the past fortnight, but those negotiations broke down yesterday. Apple is the main creditor of the group, still owed around $20 million.

The administrator is currently at the group's head office in North Sydney to sort out the administrative details.

"The idea is to keep the business trading while we seek to sell it as an ongoing concern," Andy Booth, a KPMG receivership manager, told ARN.

Seven Apple resellers announced plans to join forces in a merger and list on the ASX in July last year, although that listing never eventuated. At the time, Apple projected that the new company would represent one third of its business in Australia.

According to KPMG partner Scott Kershaw its business as usual for the company, while the receiver looks to sell the business either as a whole or in its component parts.

"The timetable is to secure the business, take control of operations and communicate with creditors within the next week or so," he said. "Then we will agree on a strategy for the sale of the business over the next couple of months."

Buzzle has more than 30 outlets around Australia which could be broken up and sold off over the coming months.

"Some potential buyers might be interested in buying the whole 30 outlets, though it is too early to form a view on that," Kershaw said. "Buzzle represents a significant opportunity. It is a substantial business with a strong position within the Apple distribution chain."

He would not comment on what went wrong within the group.

With the attractive products Apple has recently introduced on to the market, there is a good chance the business will be sold as an ongoing concern," he said.

Apple has moved to assure its customers that its products will remain available to customers, despite the collapse of the group.

"Apple products are available through thousands of outlets worldwide," Apple's corporate affairs manager, Myrna Van Pelt, said. "Australia is a very important market for us.

"We will continue to work with our channel partners for further expansion opportunities and to provide the best possible experience for our customers.

"The rest of the channel is in fine order and the transition will be as seamless as we can possible make it," she added.

It is now up to KPMG to determine the fate of the group, which includes Choice Connections, Design Wyse, GM Computer, Mac's Place, Manning Computers and Status Graph.

Crawfold Giles, a director of Next Byte - the company which split from the Buzzle group a month after the merger was announced, said the decision to leave was "for our own reasons".

"We don't know the truth of the scenario," he said. "We are tracking reasonably well at this point.

"Business is not the same as it was this time last year when turnover skyrocketed, but we have recorded 15 per cent annualised growth over the last year's sales and we are confident with that."

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