Creditors slam door on Hillside

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Creditors for Narrogin-based Hillside Abattoir have resolved to wind up the family owned company after hopes for a buyer fell through.

Twelve people attended the second creditors meeting in Perth last Friday. Price WaterhouseCoopers (PWC) partners Derrick Vickers and Kate Warwick were made liquidators of the company.

Elderstone Nominees, which traded as Hillside Abattoir, went into voluntary administration last August. The sheep shortage and high Australian dollar were believed to have played a part.

A buyer was interested but a Deed of Company Arrangement failed to be reached after one creditor would not agree to the terms.

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Administrators recommended creditors wind up the company.

A PWC spokeswoman said liquidators would look at options to realise the company's assets but would not divulge the number of creditors or the level of debt. "The return to unsecured creditors is likely to be nil," she said.

"The liquidators will be helping the employees with lodging claims through the Government's General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme so that they can receive payments towards the entitlements owing to them."

Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said the closure of Hillside Abattoir in Narrogin was a sad development and reflected the difficult times facing abattoirs because of low sheep numbers.

"Polly Trefort, who founded Hillside Abattoir, has made an enormous contribution to the sheep industry over the years and it's pleasing to see that he's continuing to play an active role," Mr Redman said.

Mr Trefort was not available for comment.

_Countryman _ believes the butcher shop Hillside Meats will continue to operate and is a separate business from the abattoir.

Doubt over future of Q Lamb *

The decision by creditors to wind up Hillside Abattoir has left a question mark hanging over the future of prime lamb and marketing alliance brand, WA Q Lamb.

Chairman Wayne Leeson said its future would be decided by the group's 150 members. "The only thing Q Lamb can do is to explore its options as to the future of the brand - where we go and what we do - it could be looking at another processor and do we continue the brand," he said.

"Certainly with the last option, we would like to try and keep the brand going."

Mr Leeson said Q Lamb had been a great innovation for the industry.

"It's disappointing it might not continue given the hard work put in by Polly Trefort and the founding committee," he said.

Since July last year, members have had to find other markets for their lambs produced to meet uniform criteria - a fat score of between six to 12mm and an average carcase weight of 20 to 22kg.

Mr Leeson said uniformity was one of their big selling points among purchasers.

The Buy West Eat Best program member was awarded a gold medal for the Meat Standards Australia-graded French lamb racks at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show in 2008 and had been supplying retailers and restaurants across the State.

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