“May he rot in hell” creditors furious at Pet Central owner as company’s nearly $5 Million debt unveiled

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 11, 2023 |

Collapsed Christchurch-based company Pet Central owes nearly 5 million dollars to creditors, both secured and unsecured.

As first reported by Chris Lynch Media, staff received what they described as a “gutless” text message last Sunday night, by owner Matthew Pizzo saying the company was being put into liquidation.

Pizzo registered all of the South Island stores as seperate entities on the Companies Office Website.

His ultimate holding company, Zoco Limited, was also placed into liquidation, owing one unsecured creditor $2,752,555.

The other shareholder is Nicole Evans, whose contact details are the same as Pizzo’s Rangiora address.  

The liquidator’s first report prepared by Brenton Hunt of Insolvency Matters said the company was placed into liquidation on 6 August 2023 at 9:00 pm by special resolution of the company’s shareholders.

The business was purchased from the previous shareholder in May 2022.

Pizzo said that the company was struggling with inflation and ever increased wholesale costs and customer reduced spending.

“The director’s view is that the pet retail business in New Zealand is changing with a few corporate owners, with large purchasing buyers The director attempted to sell the business or attract a new investor which was unsuccessful.”

Pet Central owned holiday pay to staff totalling an estimated $127,300. Inland Revenue was owed an estimated $123,600.

More than 4.8 million dollars was owed to both unsecured and secure credits, but that figure was expected to increase

Pet Central on Moorhouse Ave boarded up last Monday morning / Photo: Chris Lynch

“May he rot in hell”

Supplier Robert Thomson of Big Mountain Naturally, expressed his disappointment in Pet Central’s collapse, saying, “it is with much regret and sadness for me to say that this liquidation has made a huge impact on our business, as they still owe us a whole heap of money. It surely is a tough time for our business to have such a loss like this, and it’s a shock to get news suddenly from them, as we thought they were one of our loyal companies.”

Thomson explained how his company tried to support Pet Central in the days leading up to the liquidation by offering them stock on consignment.

“However, we were not informed that they were going into liquidation. We provided them with stock three days before they put the company into liquidation.

“We have not been paid for any of this stock on consignment, nor have we had any acknowledgement from the company thanking us for the support. All stock has been seized by liquidation. This is a big farce I find hard to accept. Matt Pizzo has a lot to answer for, not only to our company but the many others he has duped; may he rot in hell.”

Another local supplier, who has been pursuing Pet Central for thousands of dollars since November last year said they received no response from the company.

“We’re absolutely gutted. This is a massive blow for a small business like ours. The new owner went on a spending spree when he took over, including a full rebrand and opening a new store.

“Sadly, paying his bills wasn’t a priority, and now hardworking people suffer. He’s ruined the legacy that the former owner diligently built. I’m totally disgusted with him.”

“We were encouraged to lie to customers” worker speak out

Multiple former workers have spoken out about the “toxic” environment at Pet Central, after the business was sold to Matt Pizzo.

One worker, who provided Chris Lynch Media with a written statement claimed “Matt would yell at employees in front of customers, creating a stressful and intense work environment.

“Our leave was almost always denied and I went a whole year without being allowed to take leave. I often had panic attacks at work and nothing ever changed.

“We were encouraged to lie to to customers about why we didn’t have stock, blaming suppliers and Covid-19. The employee turn over rate was terrible, often being bullied out. Grudges were held until you eventually were pressured to leave. The situation grew worse and worse, and instead of filling the store with stock they opened new stores.”

Last Monday, Pizzo provided a statement to Chris Lynch Media saying “we have decided to close our doors as we can no longer keep up with inflation, continually rising wholesale costs, and the ongoing squeeze on New Zealanders’ disposable incomes.”

However, ex-employees disputed this saying Pet Central began facing problems after it was sold to Pizzo.

A well-placed source expressed frustration at Pizzo’s statement, saying “none of what Matt is saying is true.

“He travelled to America at least twice in the past year. He eloped in New York and took a trip to Las Vegas.

The source further added that Matt decided that Pet Central would sponsor the Crusaders this year, a claim corroborated by another staff member.

“He destroyed a growing business in just over a year”

“Whatever Matt wanted, he got. He destroyed a growing business in just over a year, acting as if he was above it all.

Another former senior staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he left the company due to bullying.

“I walked out, as I wouldn’t tolerate the amount of bullying very senior management gave to staff. It was probably the worst bullying I have ever experienced.”

He claimed a senior manager had seven personal grievances to her name, and went through 56 staff over three months, saying “they psychologically abused the young staff calling them monkeys and yelling at them daily.

“I tried to stop it, and protect them, then when I realised I couldn’t, I helped a lot of the young people move to new jobs.”

Chris Lynch Media made repeated attempts to contact that manager, but calls went unanswered.

Matthew Pizzo has not responded to repeated attempts for comment.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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