Pumpkin Patch looking for new owners


Pumpkin Patch was once one of the darlings of the share market but now it is in receivership.

The receivers hope to sell the company as a going concern, but admit it will not be easy.

The company has around 600 New Zealand staff, employed across 43 stores and as well as in its online and wholesale business. It has around 1000 Australian employees and 117 stores, operating under the Pumpkin Patch and Charlie & Me brands.

The receivers, KordaMentha, say a number of parties have expressed an interest in the business, but some stores are likely to close within a few weeks.

It is a long way from where the company was a decade ago when its shares were rapidly rising.

Back in January 2007 the company's shares hit an all-time high of $4.95 a share, giving the company a market valuation of more than $800 million.

But Pumpkin Patch's expansion into the US and UK did not work and cost the company tens of millions of dollars. It has found it tough going in both the New Zealand and Australian markets.

Prior to being placed in receivership yesterday the share price had fallen to just 6 cents, giving Pumpkin Patch a $10 million capitalisation.

Last week the retailer said there was virtually no value left in its equity after talks with its lender ANZ fell through. Its debts totalled $46 million and it posted a $15 million loss in the year to July 31 2016.

The receivers and administrators are looking for a buyer, but know it will be an uphill battle.

Pumpkin Patch had struggled with declining sales due to shop closures, and a decline in its international wholesale business and its northern hemisphere online business.

But the retailer is not alone in struggling in what is an extremely competitive market for kids' clothing.

All over the world clothing retailers are doing it tough. They face competition from other specialist "boutique" labels, and from department stores that stock a range of brands, including their own in-house labels.

More and more people are shopping online. There has also been a rise in people selling or trading second hand clothes online.

Children grow quickly, which is why many parents dress their children in clothes they have been given by friends.

Analysts say it is possible a department store chain will buy Pumpkin Patch.

The company will honour its gift vouchers, on a dollar for dollar basis. That means is that a $40 purchase can be paid for with a $20 gift voucher and a $20 cash or card payment.