Dimmeys bought out of admin
SV Partners, the insolvency firm handling the Dimmeys administration, is understood to have reached agreement on the sale of the retailer to a business controlled by the Zappelli family, which owned the business prior to administration.
Cool Breeze, a wholesale business, is understood to have acquired the Dimmeys retail chain and assumed control this week.
It is understood that brother and sister, Luke and Nicole Zappelli, are the key directors of Cool Breeze.
Nicole Zappelli briefly assumed control of Dimmeys last year after Doug Zappelli was barred as a company director in a Federal Court decision related to a consumer affairs prosecution over breaches of safety warning requirements on apparel sold by the retailer.
She called in administrators as Dimmeys attempted to digest a $3 million fine imposed by the court last December.
Doug Zappelli and another family company, Starite Distributors, were also fined as a result of the court proceedings.
In acquiring the Dimmeys retail chain, Cool Breeze has decided to cut staffing levels, possibly by as much as 40 per cent.
It has not been established if any stores are to be closed following the acquisition.
Dimmeys had 45 stores before Cool Breeze took over the retail chain, with around 500 employees across the stores and an administration and distribution centre.
Dimmeys is one of Australia’s oldest retailers, founded in 1853, and has been rescued from administration previously by a group of retailers, including Doug Zapelli and
Brian Swersky, the latter of whom went on to buy the Lincraft chain from receivers.
The chain has operated as a clearance retailer and discount retail chain.
SV Partners offered Dimmeys for sale in January and indicated it had received several expressions of interest for the chain, which had few trading debts but was stressed by hefty fines imposed by the Federal Court in Melbourne for the breaches of product safety laws for bath toys, children’s swimwear, cosmetics, and basketball rings.
Apart from the fines imposed by the Federal Court, Dimmeys retail operations are constrained for the next six years from selling items that require warnings or high safety standards.
SV Patners obtained court approval to extend the convening period for a second meeting of creditors until May 15.
Luke Zappelli has worked in the group of companies associated with Dimmeys since 1996 and has most recently been MD at Manchester Imports Direct.
Nicole Zappelli has extensive industry experience, including management of Chinese operations of Starite Distributors and as a consultant to Austin Group.