Former Employees allege mismanagement behind Pet Central’s closure

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 07, 2023 |

Former employees of Pet Central have voiced concerns about the store’s management, criticising the official response by the sole director and owner.

Chris Lynch Media first reported that all South Island Pet Central stores, encompassing dog grooming and daycare services, were placed into liquidation on Monday.

Late last night, staff received a text message from the owner, Matthew Pizzo, who acquired the company in April last year.

In a statement to Chris Lynch Media, Pizzo explained, “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.

The future of New Zealand’s pet retail landscape is akin to the grocery industry and now rests with a few dominant corporations, leaving little room for family-owned independents. Economies of scale and disparities in buying power have made competing with the two Australian-owned market leaders unfeasible.”

However, ex-employees told Chris Lynch Media that 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.

Pet Central on Moorhouse Ave boarded up on Monday morning photo: Chris Lynch

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

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

“Matt has been playing god with people’s lives. He chose not to pay rent, suppliers, employees, or the previous owner, living in luxury instead,” one former staff member alleged.

On Monday, another employee revealed that the company was “served papers” at the Papanui branch for overdue rent.

“The closures have nothing to do with inflation. Because of Matt, people have lost jobs, businesses are out of money. My heart breaks for the employees; they don’t deserve this.”

Another staff member said “it’s been a harrowing week. Customers have berated staff for lack of stock.

A 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.”

Chris Lynch Media has repeatedly reached out to Matthew Pizzo for comment.

A full report on the state of the company’s finances was expected to be made public on Friday.

Statement from Matthew Pizzo sent via Brenton Hunt from

Pet Central has long prided itself on providing expert advice and quality pet foods and products to pets and pet owners in Canterbury. 

Sadly, we have chosen to close our doors as we can no longer keep up with inflation, ever increasing wholesale costs, and the all too familiar and continuing squeeze on Kiwis’ disposable incomes. 

The future of New Zealand’s pet retail, much like the grocery industry, now rests in the hands of a few major players with scarce room for family-owned independents. Economies of scale and the resulting differences in buying power have made it impossible to compete with the two majority Australian owned retail market share leaders.

As we navigate these challenging times, we have prioritized staff wages and ensured that they have been paid in full.  

Pet Central wishes to thank all our loyal staff, customers, and four-legged friends. Thank you for your support, kindness and well wishes during this difficult time. 

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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