A challenge for Fay Richwhite

Eon has championed Kiwi design for nearly a decade, so we were dismayed to hear that its Auckland design store is in receivership. Even more disappointing is the news that those most likely to bear the brunt are the local designers who supplied Eon, as the NBR reported last week. Many haven’t been paid for the stock that Eon is discounting, yet moneylender Blackbird Finance (partly owned by Fay Richwhite) should be repaid in full.

That has David Trubridge seeing red—and laying down a challenge for the bankers. Eon, he says in an email, 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 owes 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 losing. 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.

Moneylenders take risks too, and they’re entitled to protect themselves. But surely in New Zealand it’s asking too much of our small designers—most very small—to have the kind of financial sophistication that Fay Richwhite and its properties are able to muster. At some point someone, somewhere, must have realised that the work of unsecured creditors would be sold to the advantage of Blackbird Finance. That’s a step that didn’t need to be taken.

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