By Chris Nicholls

MELBOURNE: Airwell air conditioners look set to disappear from this country after former distributor ECP Australia was placed under voluntary administration Wednesday.

In a letter sent to service agents, ECP Australia said it had appointed Deloitte administrators Timothy Bryce Norman and Salvatore Algeri as of 16 July.

The letter also said that, “Effective immediately, no further warranty claims will be honoured by the administrators of the company and all warranty service work should cease”.

Service agents were advised to forward a final invoice for the period up to 16 July “at their earliest convenience”, but advised their outstanding debt was “an unsecured claim against the company”.

According to the source of the letter, none of Airwell’s service agents were aware of the appointment of administrators until yesterday morning, when they received the letter.

ECP Australia will hold a creditors meeting 25 July to determine what percentage of their claims service agents and other retail customers with outstanding warranty claims will receive.

According to Deloitte junior analyst Alistair Higginbottom, who is working on the ECP administration program, the “directors were of the opinion that the company was either insolvent or was likely to become insolvent, so they put their hand up and appointed administrators”.

Airwell’s return to the Australian market following the administration process looks unlikely, as Seeley, who picked up the Airwell distribution deal from ECP in July last year, had their agreement “severed sometime last week”, which means no distributor exists at this time to take over from ECP.

The Seeley decision also means warranty claims dating back to July last year will likely not be honoured, with Deloitte senior portner, Timothy Norman, saying until he had received a deed of propsal as to where to take the company, he had asked service agents to cease all warranty work.

Regardless of the current situation, Higginbottom said it was likely that “in Australia, it’s [the Airwell brand] potentially no longer going to be around".

“What we envisage at the moment is that a deed will be proposed by the parent entity [ECP] and anyone, including people that have a claim with Seeley, will have to pay for their own machine to be fixed if there’s an issue, and they’ll become an unsecured creditor of ECP Australia and so then they’ll have to go through the process of sending in a proof of debt form with receipt,” he said.  

Higginbottom said if there was a dividend to unsecured creditors, customers would get some of their money back, but he said it was “unlikely they’d get all of it back”.

It is understood some service agents may be owed large sums of money by ECP.

There will be some percentage paid back to the unsecured creditors, said Higginbottom, but until the deed is proposed, he could not say with any certainty what the percentage would be.

While the Airwell brand was not distributed through mainstream retailers, it was sold through a number of specialist dealers around the country. However, a look at Airwell’s homepage today revealed none of the company’s retailers are listed any more.