Monday, December 1, 2008

#240 Eon collapses and the little guys lose - David Trubridge speaks out


As I previously mentioned, major New Zealand-designed furniture stockist Eon Design Centre went into receivership last week. Due to many of the designers not having proper knowledge of New Zealand's business laws, when they went to Eon to retrieve their unpaid stock, they were informed that they could not do so, and then removed by security personnel. Further, if they were to overpower security and remove their stock, they could be prosecuted for theft. The reasons are clearly listed in this NBR article.

Now one of New Zealand's most successful furniture designers David Trubridge – though not a New Zealander himself – (pictured above) has spoken out about what's going on. In an email sent out at 12:30pm and addressed to 'Undisclosed Recipients' (who one would assume would include most of the design specific media and wider design community) he details the impact that this receivership will have on the small design businesses, and the injustice he sees existing in the big business world where the rich get richer and the little guys suffer.

I would like to draw your attention to a sad drama happening in Auckland where eon design centre has gone into liquidation. Receivers have been appointed and are holding a sale of stock in order to repay a loan of $400,000 to Blackbird Finance (partly owned by Fay Richwhite).

eon design centre was set up by Angela Roper as the flagship of New Zealand design and has been one of the main outlets for most of the country's design community. It would appear that none of these small businesses (including myself) will receive any of the, often large, debts that eon owe us. This will have a serious knock-on effect throughout the New Zealand design community. We are shocked and horrified that the carefully designed law ensures the big boys always get their pound of flesh, and the small guys end up loosing. We are seeing the same thing all over Wall St and London and it is the rotten heart of capitalism where financial laws are made by the super rich to protect the super rich.

I publicly challenge Blackbird and Fay Richwhite to promote a Kiwi sense of community and to share their pickings with those of us who are suffering in this collapse far more than they possibly could. They only have money to play with because people like us, the creative community are earning it at the coal face. By their standards the amounts are negligible compared to what they could gain in good PR, while the amounts to us are crippling.

It is important to remember just how much the creative community punches way above its weight in contributing towards the worldwide image of New Zealand. Just over the last year my company has been responsible for literally hundreds of articles in design, fashion and lifestyle magazines around the world. This could be over a million dollars of editorial; they all mention New Zealand and give it a sophisticated, creative image which attracts an affluent cultural traveller. I have been included in a French design magazine as one of the 15 'plus grands' designers in the world, and my Coral light is in the current Time magazine style and fashion luxury list. We do this on an extremely small budget and do not have the resources to absorb events such as the eon collapse.

you can find further information here.

if you wish to discuss this with me further please do give me a ring on the number below or 021 ******.
we thank you for your support
best wishes

If you would like to show your support for David Trubridge and the designers losing out over the Eon debacle email him at


Craig said...

business is business - financiers are here to make money not support the arts. I suggest said "artisans" wake up and smell the coffee that is the international and local economic climates. Whining won't get you back your work or engender any sort of sympathy from anyone actually involved in business in this country. That's life, it's hard, but welcome to the real world kids. Get ready for a lot more retail closures after christmas. Eon will be the first of many.

Frontlawn said...

That sounds a bit heartless Craig. I think the main gripe of the letter in the article above is not about whether financiers support the arts, but rather, about whether it is fair that financiers are able to secure repayments at the expense of the designers and artists who were providing the talent and inovation which allowed the financiers to grow their money in the first place.

The receivers and finance companies may have acted legally, but whether they acted fairly and ethically is not so certain.

Would you really prefer to live in a society which values business at the expense of fairness, ethics and aesthetics?

If, as you suspect, there are more closures headed our way, then we are all in this together; designers and financiers --- neither is inherently more deserving than any other.

Craig said...

The reality is we live in a capitalist state. You make a good case & perhaps I do sound heartless however what I do think is interesting is that it is far easier to criticise financiers than to blame the law itself, the government that passed it, or in fact Eon itself.

Historically and in the present day many artists are in fact supported by business benefactors, we would have no New Gallery without the Gibbs, and I for one support local artists and fashion designers with the proceeds of my own personal business activities.

I guess what I was trying to say was that expecting a financier not to follow the law when it is in their fiscal interest is highly unlikely. Eon is a loss to the design community this is certain.

And yes, there ar a high percentage of kiwi retailers running on only a few months operating costs and are so close to the bone that without income from the hoiday period will be unable to continue trading in the new year. This is a certainty.

Frontlawn said...

Yes, I quite agree. It's too bad that the law puts people and companies in this sort of situation. I probably can't even point the finger at the receivers, (or whoever it was who put security guards at the Eon shop door to stop designers taking back the stock they hadn't been paid for), I suspect that they are required to take all necessary steps to make sure that creditors get their money in the order that the law sets out.

On the other hand, expecting small designers to be familiar with insolvency law and such like seems unrealistic to me --- especially when such laws change from time to time.

So, should we be pointing the finger at Eon, who set themselves up as the middle-(wo)man dealing with financiers and designers both, for not alerting designers to steps they could take to reduce their vulnerability in the case Eon going into receivership?

Or did even Eon not know how the Personal Property Securities register could affect the designers and artists who they lauded in their advertising?

I know one might argue that that the financiers made it all possible but I think I'll mourn the loss of Eon (and the designers who sold through them) more than, say, Blackbird Finance or other money lenders.

Craig said...

I wholeheartedly agree that expecting small designers to be familiar with insolvency law and such like does seems thoroughly unrealistic - I think we need to encourage the artistic community to seek advice from business mentor - this is a free service.

Anonymous said...

If designers are running a business, the very least they should do is familiarise themselves with the relevant law, or make sure they have is someone they trust to explain it to them.

It's no good complaining about the law and the "big boys" - the financiers lent money secured on the business - and as a result they rank further up the pecking order than people who transferred stock to an insolvent business. It's not necessarily fat cat-ism - just as Eon wouldn't exist without the designers, neither would it exist without financiers to stump up the capital.

I agree - people in the artistic community need to supported to make informed commercial and business decisions, as well as artictic ones.

Anonymous said...

What a complete mess - what an injustice - what a selfishness - how tragic - someone write a song please! the queen of new zealand design could not let go of her hope to maintain her fake status, and her selfish pride kept her from saving the people that supplied the product she built her empire on. she must have known this (the liquidation) is going to happen and could have given the suppliers a call to help themselves before the receivers do. there is no moral in any of this. i am disgusted but it does not come to a surprise to me - most business people have blood on their fingers and it is never their own.