Legendary Kiwi brand up for sale

One of New Zealand's most famous and oldest brands is looking for a new owner after a turbulent time in overseas hands.

Sportswear maker Canterbury of New Zealand is seeking a new investor, after its Bahrain-based owners decided to place its European business into administration.

The move has left several European sports teams looking for new gear, and the Scottish Rugby Union was yesterday forced to cancel a planned launch of its national team's kit for the new season.

A Scottish newspaper reported that the Scotland shirt was among Canterbury's best sellers.

This year, the future of Canterbury's contract with the Springboks was thrown into doubt after its South African licensee failed. A new supplier was found.

Sports teams in Australia and New Zealand have been told the latest move will not affect Canterbury's local operations, but the company's London-based administrators say the entire group, including divisions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, the Middle East and the United States, is up for sale.

Accounts filed with the Companies Office show Canterbury has been losing money for several years.

The most recent accounts available, for 2007, show it lost $5.5 million - an improvement on the $18.2 million loss the previous year.

The New Zealand operations made a small profit, but all other subsidiaries lost a hefty amount of money.

Canterbury is best known for its rugby jerseys, but in its heyday in the 1960s it produced a wide range of clothing made in New Zealand, from suits to underwear.

It supplied the All Blacks' jerseys for 75 years, but lost that contract to adidas in 1999.

Its parent company, LWR, was sold to American-based New Zealander David Teece in the late 90s.

In 2001 Mr Teece sold LWR to a Christchurch couple, but kept the Canterbury business for himself and his partners.

Several industry figures said yesterday they believed Mr Teece had tried hard to build up the business, but it had expanded into too many new areas, including cricket, golf, football and casualwear.

Last year it opened its first retail outlet in Europe, and more shops were planned for Europe and New York.

Although Mr Teece is still a part-owner of Canterbury, the company is controlled by a Bahrain private equity fund, owned by a Kuwaiti bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH).

KFH-Bahrain has several other investments in New Zealand, including stake in Woosh Wireless and the Radius Health Group.

Canterbury's Australasian chief executive, Scott Chapman, said he had briefed the company's customers - including the Warriors and the Australian Rugby Union - and all had been "very, very positive and supportive, which is nice ... . at this difficult time".

Canterbury has four stores in New Zealand, and employs about 60 non-retail staff on both sides of the Tasman.

It would be business as usual for these workers, Mr Chapman said.

It was possible there might be local interest in buying back the company.

"This brand is 105 years old and it's been through many, many shareholders," he said.

"It's been through two world wars. When it lost the All Blacks the world was going to cave in, and it's still a very strong brand.

"I'm sure somebody will jump at the opportunity."

British sports fans have made their anger about the decision known.

On one fan site, footballshirtculture.com, several expressed their disappointment.

"I feel so sorry for the clubs who have Canterbury as their kit supplier because the kits are just so nicely done," was a typical comment.

The European division has terminated all its sponsorship contracts and laid off 72 of its 86 staff.

Several high-profile rugby union and league teams in Europe had deals with Canterbury.

They included the Scottish national team, the London Wasps and Cardiff.

The company branched out into soccer clothing two years ago.

* This article i s from The New Zealand Herald

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?