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Third confectionery collapse of 2015, call for safe harbour law

A third Australian confectionery maker or wholesaler, WA-based confectionery importer Blue Thistle, has been placed into administration since January, while an insolvency expert said about one-third of liquidated businesses could be saved if the government adopted draft safe harbour recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in March.

In January, Melbourne-based confectionery maker Betta Foods was placed into voluntary administration, hot on the heels of the collapse of chocolate company Ernest Hillier.

But in March, voluntary administrators of Betta Foods, Cor Cordis sold Betta Foods’ assets to NSW’s Prydes Confectionery Holdings Pty Ltd, which intended to operate the business under a new structure.

Now Tonnoc Pty Ltd, trading as Blue Thistle, was placed into  on May 19, with Norman Oehme and Robert Kirman of McGrathNicol as administrators.

Blue Thistle, which operated from leased premises in a northern suburb of Perth, was in business for 17 years importing and wholesaling brands such as Thorntons, After Eight, Wonka, Reese’s, Hershey’s, Walker snacks, Dr Pepper drinks, and local confectionery brands.

The administrators are looking for urgent expressions of interest for the Blue Thistle business and aim to sell the business, which has had revenue of between $5 and $10 million, as a going concern. Blue Thistle employed about 10 people.

Sean Wengel, an insolvency principal at accounting and financial advisory firm William Buck, said that billions of dollars could be recovered for the economy if the government adopts safe harbour recommendations made by the Productivity Commission, which has the potential to save up to 3,000 insolvent businesses from being liquidated.

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