Prawn supplier may take Sam's to court

This week it was reported Sam's faced disputes over its two flagship restaurants, the former managers of a franchise and wholesale operation had fallen into voluntary administration, and two former suppliers had complained of slow payments.

The Courier-Mail
March 11, 2005

Prawn supplier may take Sam's to court
Liam Walsh

A PRAWN supplier is threatening to take Queensland franchise, restaurant and shop giant Sam's Seafood to the Federal Court for an alleged outstanding bill of $74,010.

Austar Seafood Marketing has claimed Sam's has only paid tens of thousands of dollars so far for extra-large, cooked king prawns delivered in November last year.

Sam's, which has grown from a business operating out of a refrigerated van in 1984 to a listed company worth $32.4 million, had not responded to several calls by yesterday evening.

This comes days after Sam's chief operating officer Mark Scherini denied billing problems with suppliers.

"As far as billing problems, I don't believe there's any billing problems," he said at the time.

He added: "I have no problems in paying suppliers if they conform to my quality expectations."

This week it was reported Sam's faced disputes over its two flagship restaurants, the former managers of a franchise and wholesale operation had fallen into voluntary administration, and two former suppliers had complained of slow payments.

Last month, Sam's reported a drop of almost 100 per cent in profit for the half year to $46,000.

Revenues of $28.6 million – bolstered by $5.5 million from the sale of non-current assets – were down 2.9 per cent.

But management was optimistic about future strategies and planned to keep expanding with a $10 million-plus merger with De Costi Seafoods.

Austar general manager Jarn Jamison said the prawns had been sold on November 26.

Mr Jamison said while he had been in contact with Sam's in January, a staffer was now calling daily to find out about the alleged outstanding amount.

"They refuse to pay. They refuse to answer any questions," he said.

No issues had been raised about quality, he said.

"It was premium quality product," Mr Jamison said. "The cream of the crop … for Christmas trade."

He has sought legal advice and plans to lodge a creditor's statutory demand for payment of debt with the court.

Meanwhile, former Sam's marketing manager Jason Simpson said his seven years with Sam's were the highlight of his working life.

Mr Simpson, who said he left in 2002 for personal reasons, added that Sam's had a "good culture" and people gave "110 per cent".

Sam's shares closed flat at $1.31 yesterday.


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