Whitcoulls put up for sale

The New Zealand arm of REDgroup Retail, the Australian-owned bookselling group, has been officially put up for sale by its administrator, including 74 Whitecoulls stores.

Ferrier Hodgson, which took over as administrator of the group on 17th February, has called for expressions of interest in the company. The firm owns a number of bookshops throughout Australia and New Zealand, including the New Zealand-based Whitcoulls chain, academic bookseller Bennetts, Australia's Angus & Robertson and Borders' Australia, New Zealand and Singapore operations.

Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman said the sales campaign would enable the administrator to examine what options may be available for creditors and that there have already been a number of unsolicited approaches for the company, TVNZ Business reports.

Sherman said: "These brands are so well known in New Zealand, it should come as no surprise a number of parties have come forward interested to know more. The expression of interest process will establish a more formal framework for us to manage that process."

There are 74 Whitcoulls stores in New Zealand, nine in the Bennetts chain, and five in the Borders chain.

REDgroup put itself into voluntary administration the day after Borders US filed for bankruptcy protection, with about AUS$170m owed to creditors. The firm had 2,500 employees across its over to 300 shops. Earlier this month it closed 37 Angus & Robertson stores and one Borders shop in Australia, making 321 staff redundant.