For many businesses in Auckland, it’s been a tough year. Navigating Level 4, Level 3, Level 3.1, Level 3.2, and Red have all had their own challenges and a move to Orange will have both rewards and challenges for businesses that have made it to this point.
The $60 million Government support package for Auckland businesses that was announced on 22 October 2021 is now open. There is $50 million available to fund advice and planning support for businesses and the implementation of that advice. A further $10 million is available for mental health and wellbeing support. In order to access this support, you will need to be registered with Activate Tāmaki Makaurau. This link will take you to the registration form: https://www.aucklandnz.com/activateauckland/activate-tamaki-makaurau-client
McDonald Vague is a registered service provider for Activate Tāmaki Makaurau in the following areas:
• Business Planning, Strategy and Continuity
• Financial Planning and Cashflow Management
• Business Hibernation or Exit
If you or your client think you would benefit from obtaining business advice from McDonald Vague in one or more of these areas, we are happy to work with you and/or your client to put together a bespoke business advice proposal that meets your client’s needs.
We have also developed two service offering under the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business advice grant ($3,000 plus GST), which will be tailored to your client’s needs:
Undertaking a review of the business with the company’s owners, including reviewing the company’s cashflow and financial management, and undertaking a restructuring/turnaround assessment to determine whether the business should:
o Continue to trade – implement financial and cashflow management, business continuity planning, consider new opportunities and customer identification, operational improvements, and business coaching
o Restructure the business – implement financial and cashflow management, scale down/streamline operations, customer identification, and debt restructuring
o Wind down and close the business – implement liquidation planning and support
2. Road to Recovery
Undertaking a review of the business with the company’s owners, including a review of the company’s cashflow and financial management, and a restructuring assessment to determine what steps should be taken to:
o Reduce compliance costs
o Make operational improvements
o Improve financial and cashflow management
o Streamline operations
Once the business advice has been given and a plan for moving forward has been developed, the business can apply for an implementation grant ($4,000 plus GST), with which to fund the implementation of the business advice.
McDonald Vague has five licensed insolvency practitioners and we are able to provide liquidation services to businesses requiring these exit services as part of implementing their business plan and/or business advice.
More information on Activate Tāmaki Makaurau’s offerings can be found on its website: https://www.aucklandnz.com/activateauckland
The Business Advice & Implementation Grants are now available for application. Auckland businesses can apply for up to $3000 + GST through Business Advice support. An Implementation Grant will pay for specific services to put your business advice or plan into action.
If you’re looking for expert advice and support in areas such as Continuity, Financial Planning, Business Hibernation, Compromises or Exit, we can help get you there. You can access advice if you are considering hibernating or closing your business, or are looking to restructure.
The advice should lead to a plan to overcome challenges and/or identify opportunities and map out the scope of the work required to achieve the plan.
You can also register for help to put your business plan or advice into action – either an existing business plan or a plan based on the Business Advice received through Activate Tāmaki Makaurau. The implementation grant is $4,000 + GST.
Your business needs to:
• be operating with 100 full time equivalent employees or less
• be GST registered in New Zealand
• have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
• be operating in a commercial environment
• be a privately-owned business or are a Māori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 or similar organisation managing Māori assets under multiple ownership
• primarily operate within the Auckland Alert Level 3 boundary
• be an existing business that is trading prior to 22 October 2021
Businesses need to register for Activate Tāmaki Makaurau support. McDonald Vague have registered with Activate Tāmaki Makaurau.
Business Advice, register here
Implementation Grants, register here
A review of the business, including a review of the company’s cashflow and financial management, and a restructuring/turnaround assessment to determine whether the business should:
- Continue to trade – implement financial and cashflow management, business continuity planning, consider new opportunities and customer identification, operational improvements, and business coaching
- Restructure the business – implement financial and cashflow management, scale down/streamline operations, customer identification, and debt restructuring
- Wind down and close the business – implement liquidation planning and support
We’re here to help your business.
As we pass the 100-day mark of Auckland’s lockdown businesses unable to trade at 100% capacity continue to struggle due to the alert level restrictions in place. The country was given the target of 90% fully vaccinated to move into the traffic light system, this has now been pulled forward for all regions from the start of December. The percentage of people vaccinated will have some influence at what traffic light setting the regions enter the new system at. For Auckland this can only mean a drop in restrictions as the highest vaccinated region however for some small regions with lower vaccinated levels they will likely see tighter restrictions in their region. Until then neighbouring regions phaze in and out of the various levels of lock down while covid continues to spread across the north island.
Insolvency figures continue at the low levels of the past few months. Business support remains in place from government subsidies. How this will transition to the new traffic light system is yet to be seen with the resurgence support payments previously available till the region returned to alert level 1.
Market constraints continue to affect the economy with unemployment continuing its downward trend to 3.4% for the September quarter, supply restrictions a constant concern and the cost of living is on the rise with inflation on the up. For homeowners interest rates are on the rise with the lift in the OCR projected to have a reasonably quick affect with a high level of borrowers fixed for 1 year or less. Shipping delays and high shipping costs continue to be an issue for businesses moving into the Christmas period.
Company insolvency appointments are sitting at 2020 levels for October 2021 and continue their downward trend. This is normal heading into Christmas with the lows of January ahead as most professional services take the month off. Of note are the high levels of solvent liquidations when compared to previous years at 30 for the month as shareholders continue to wind up solvent businesses and distribute the profits for use elsewhere. Receiverships saw a jump for the month up to 9 both company and personal receiverships up from the 4’s posted in the 2 prior months. As mentioned last month shareholder and creditor appointments both continue to drop.
“Construction & Property Development” and “Accommodation & Food” continue to make up just under half the total appointments at similar figures to those detailed last month. Retail have increased in number of appointments from 7% to 13% while the remainder of the categories play musical chairs in the low percentiles.
October figures saw a slight bounce back from September lows but are still well below 2019 and 2020 personal insolvency levels. Time will tell how rising inflations will affect personal insolvency figures as the usual Christmas squeeze hits wallets and overspending goes on the credit card moving the problem into 2022.
With the lower alert levels outside of Auckland in October the IRD has begun to take action against those businesses in arrears that are in these lower alert level regions.
I am always available for a chat and am happy to help.
Many small and medium businesses are in serious strife, some hanging on by a thread. Businesses are seeking certainty about how and when they can get back to business.
A recent MYOB survey has revealed confidence among small and medium businesses is plummeting and states SME revenue has taken its biggest hit since the 2008 global financial crisis.
The drop in revenue and profits smashed from the current Covid-19 lockdowns, staff retention and skill shortages, the supply chain crisis, surging house prices, rising interest rates, closed borders, climbing inflation and general consumer confidence are all impacting business and will continue to have an impact for the foreseeable future.
The government announced a comprehensive package which is a health-based approach on 22 October. This has provided some clarity and certainty and some financial relief. Increases in the resurgence package and wage subsidy scheme are welcomed though may be too late for some?
The government has confirmed more help for employers in the shortterm and a transition grant in the new framework to boost the “gear up” as businesses reopen in a traffic light framework. In the green framework, support payments will end. We expect to see a rise in insolvency appointments soon after.
The traffic light system may open the country up domestically but there is lack of clarity on when borders will reopen impacting the viability of many NZ businesses particularly in the accommodation and tourism sector.
The NZ Herald reported on 21 October that Auckland tourism employers were worried senseless as the Auckland lockdown would stretch close to three months. The article quotes a tourism provider ''In the tourism sector confidence is at an all time low. Businesses are reporting they're not even getting inquiries, let alone bookings, for the months ahead.''
The heat on companies particularly in the retail/travel/tourism/hospitality/aviation sectors is not currently being seen with a rise in companies facing liquidation. Instead many companies have closed waiting to reopen (but now may be revisiting that view?), some have ceased to trade, paid creditors and exited altogether. Many companies are holding out relying on business resurgence, the bank guarantee scheme and wage subsidies to keep their staff employed. It is unknown whether they will be as resilient as they were in 2020 and whether they will bounce back.
We are noticing increased attention from IRD for companies in Level 2 regions. It is recommended for any business struggling to meet tax arrears that negotiations are entered into now to avoid a potential winding up proceeding. They IRD are open to negotiation early on. Company directors that bury their heads in the sand and have no plans in place may face less leniency and liquidation proceedings in the future. There is a steady climb in IRD initiated appointments since 1 October 2021.
If you are facing a statutory demand gain some advice early. Ignoring a statutory demand will likely lead to the service of a winding up proceeding.
If your company needs some advice on the restructuring options or is likely facing the prospect of liquidation, we are happy to advise on the process and consequences.
We can also provide some advice on the options from The Regional Business Network, who may be able to assist with the funding of specific advice relating to business continuity and restructuring.
Pressure and frustration continues to build for business owners and the wider economy; due to the lack of transparency, a proper plan in place as to when we may once again open up the country and what needs to be achieved to have these lockdown restrictions lifted.
We have now had our first full calendar month with Auckland and the surrounding regions at Alert Levels 3 & 4; while the rest of the country remains at Alert Level 2. The lockdown effects are being felt across the country, both financially and emotionally.
As we saw with the first round of lockdowns in 2020, lockdowns have a negative effect on insolvency figures, which have once again taken a sudden drop. Historically, we see a seasonal slowdown in insolvency figures over the Christmas period, so numbers may not see a recovery till 2022.
The factors affecting the NZ economy continue:
- Shipping delays and cost increases both international and domestic
- Supply shortages across several industries
- High consumer demand for goods
- Labour shortages
- Inflation higher than RBNZ’s targets leading to a lift in the OCR of 25 base points
- Continued quantitative easing and spending by governments propping up the economy
The August 2021 lockdown has introduced some additional uncertainty into the economy:
- Restrictions/Rules at each lockdown level continue to change from prior lockdowns
- Business’ that could previously open and trade at breakeven at level 2 have lost this option due to increased patronage restrictions of indoor spaces (hospitality, arts, tourism, venues)
- Central government support has been more targeted compared to previous lockdowns
Inflation figures released on 18 October 2021 for the quarter ended September show inflation of 2.2% in the quarter, putting yearly inflation at 4.9% driven largely by government spending and money printing. This will no doubt flow through into future OCR rises in attempts to curb the rise.
A quick side note we are seeing with October appointments is that IRD are now starting to apply pressure in those regions at level 2. Be sure to check back in for next months article for full details.
There has been a continued drop in appointments, as compared to the rest of 2021 and earlier years. Except for solvent liquidations when looking at the type of appointment, there is a drop. This is likely due to shareholders wanting to clear up their affairs in the lull created by lockdowns and the need to extract cash from the now dormant companies to meet other financial shortages. Traditionally, we see solvent liquidations peak in March, making up 20% of appointments in 2021. In September, solvent liquidations make up 25% of appointments.
With the Level 3 & 4 lockdown over parts of the North Island, the drop in appointments has not quite reached the lows seen following the late March 2020 full country lockdown. When September 2021 is compared with past year highs and averages, the drop off in appointments is noticeable.
Notable insolvency appointments in September:
- Allpress Expresso – The company has undergone a solvent liquidation following the sale of its business.
- Tai Ping Asian Supermarket (Beach Road)– Liquidators; then Receivers were appointed due to decreased patronage from overseas students.
- Cash Converters Onehunga; traded as an Onehunga based pawn broker. The Limited Partnership and Limited company have both been placed into liquidation by their shareholders.
- Ormiston Rise – The company was involved in the governments Kiwibuild projects, was placed into liquidation following its entry into Administration and Receivership earlier in the year.
Due to popular demand, I have taken the figures a step further and broken the appointment figures down by industry. Business operating in the construction industry and property development are currently making up 37% of total appointments. I expect to see Hospitality and Retail gaining a larger chunk of the pie in the coming months if the lockdown restrictions are not eased.
The number of personal insolvencies has seen a drop to its lowest levels since pre 2018, with No Asset Procedures at an all time low. The plateau seen from April 2021 onwards, has now dropped off.
A common discussion I’ve had with colleagues, business owners and friends is around how insolvency figures can continue to track downwards when the country remains in lockdown, while business’ and individuals struggle to make ends meet. At this stage, it’s a wait and see approach for the future; coupled with guess’ as to how inflation will affect the economy and whether wages will track upwards to keep pace with it.
The drop in Winding Up Applications, seen in the second half of August, has continued into September. The IRD have pulled back on enforcement action and provided business’ extra time and leniency to deal with arrears, while the country remains in lockdown. There has however been an increase in IRD activity in Level 2 locations.