The shutdown, which will be staggered through to March 2014, has already seen the manufacture of its trailer-based Sidelifter [sideloader] business cease, although current orders will be honoured. Around 60 manufacturing staff will lose their jobs, although office and design staff will remain in the Christchurch office.
Started by brothers Joseph and David Steel in 1878 building coaches, the company already operates out of China, as well as Australia, Brazil and Malaysia.
At the beginning of this year (2013) Steelbro told CM that it was seeing success for its products in South America and Africa, as well as the Pacific Islands and Malaysia. The company set up its own manufacturing operations in Kuala Lumpur in 1996 to supply markets in South East Asia.
In 2010, the company lost a two-year court battle for infringing the international patent on a new sideloader [sidelifter] stabiliser leg design of its New Zealand-based competitor, Hammar. At the time, Steelbro stated that the decision was based on “a very narrow and technical point of construction of the patent”.
Corporate advisory, insolvency and restructuring specialist PPB Advisory were appointed administrators for Steelbro NZ. The Australian law firm Ferrier Hodgson has been appointed receivers and has taken control of the company’s assets, while assessing its financial position and the redundancy right of its employees, some of whom have worked for Steelbro for up to 40 years.
It is understood the receivership does not affect the remainder of the group’s activities based in Australia.