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Posted: Thursday, October 15 2009. 10:05

Another Blow to Indage in UK

Indage Vintners, the erstwhile biggest wine producer of India, passing through a massive financial crisis, suffered another blow to its public image when the staff at its Corby based bottling unit in UK were sent home yesterday without pay, after not being paid for three weeks.

Indage pre-empted the move by the employees to go on an unofficial strike and laid off about 100 employees for an unlimited period. They had not been paid salaries for three weeks. In contrast, the employees of Indage in India have not been paid salary for almost a year; many have been laid off or resigned since then, but the company has not been able to pay the salaries.

The economic situation in the town of Corby in Northamptonshire is so poor that the workers at Indage UK have promised to go back to work tomorrow if they are paid their salaries but some are not confident about the company’s future, according to a report.

On their way out yesterday, engineers and office workers told the Evening Telegraph that weekly workers had not been paid for three weeks and monthly staffs have been waiting a fortnight for their wages.

Last month the company had paid a part of the unpaid salary to some employees in its Mumbai head office because the matter had gone to the labour ministry in Maharashtra.

However, the company is laden with statutory financial liabilities running into millions of rupees, which have further straitjacketed the company as it is unable to sell its wine in most of the important markets like Delhi where it has not been able to get the excise registrations done this year.

In the meantime, the liquid gold as the company liked to call its wine, is turning into dust due to improper storage and the distributors who are owed sums running into millions, not keen to market the products further until their outstanding are cleared.

Ranjit Chougule, MD of Indage Vintners had admitted to delWine about two months ago that the salary to employees was indeed not paid but was quite optimistic that some good news would be forthcoming. However, the good news never came as the company’s efforts to rope in a strategic investor have not fructified so far.

The company had to cancel the purchase of Loxton winery in Australia earlier this year due to financial constraints after postponing the purchase and several releases to the media that it was a mutual decision. The seller eventually sued them and won the case last month when the court ordered Indage to forgo the non-refundable deposit of A$6 m and supply a substantial amount of wine from its Riverland winery Thachi which is primarily a low-end, bulk wine producer. A reliable source in the region has informed delWine that the winery has the instructions to liquidate the stocks at any cost in order to get cash. 

Most analysts attribute the crisis due to the downturn in the market. But the company management and the financial jugglery has also been a major cause. Several distributors have commented adversely about the company’s book-policies of the company, already reported in delWine. But our reliable sources confirm that the wine industry in South Australia was perplexed not so much by the export of bulk wine to India, but import of Indian wines into Australia!

DelWine was one of the first in the wine media to report about the possible financial crisis the company could get into, by getting into the international buyout deals. After postponing the closure of the Loxton deal, the company also backed out of the purchase of the second UK winery- the Norwich based Broadland wineries.

However, the erstwhile Corby Distillers and the assets of the sister company Darlington were bought over in June last year and the company became a part of the Indage UK. The deal had saved 120 jobs and is reported to have about two hundred employees, half of which have been retrenched-hopefully temporarily.

Comments:

 
 

Subhash Arora Says:

A funny thing happened. The news about UK employees beeing paid off did appear to be bogus as there was no name of sender. So I sent a mail to the address info@intheuk.com. to check the authenticity. Not surprisingly, the mail bounced back several times. when I tried to check www.intheuk.com the message that appeared was that the site is under construction.
I sent the mail to the PR manager of Indage and it bounced back too-so did about 25 of the 40 odd mails I sent to. It looks like a super-agency has taken over to do the PR work for the company. I would be curious to know what happened in UK and the latest on the employees salaries in india. Subhash Arora, Lake Como, Italy

Posted @ October 29, 2009 11:36

 

Info Says:

From a UK perspective, I wish to confirm that the Directors kept their word and have paid all employees wages in full.

Posted @ October 23, 2009 18:35

 

Rengaswami Says:

Hi Arora, Like I have been saying for the past 12 months, this is one company which is long on promises but short on deliveries. Including chairman sham chougule's assurances on payments cannot be taken. If Sham is so much worried about his much hyped reputation then he would have sold some of his holdings Indage Hotels, ATENA BAR AND RESTAURANT, GRACIA'S PIZZA CHAIN, HOTEL SHALINI PALACE, Nando chicken, Land held by them in nashik and other places in their name as well as benami holdings, INDAGE CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER ASSETS and paid off the vendors, employees, government dues, and others and lived a life of dignity and honor.Their CFO, lesser said the better. The company is in doldrums and the CFO is building a castle in Airoli. I dont think even God is hearing our plight and giving good sense to the chougules to pay all the small vendors. Regards Rengaswami K

Posted @ October 21, 2009 11:10

 
       

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