Ballina Pizza Hut Shuts Shop
By DAWN COHEN
Staff left without a crustPizza franchisein Ballina closes suddenly BALLINA Pizza Hut co-manager David Martin woke up on Monday to find the eatery closed down. The franchisee, Central Coast-based Ian Kingwill, had placed the Ballina Fair business in receivership, putting up to 30 people out of work. "I didn't know anything about it," said Mr Martin. "I got a phone call from the landlord wanting to remove stuff. "The last two owners did the same thing to me. I feel gutted." Franchise owner Yum Restaurants also learned on Monday the Ballina Pizza Hut was under the administration of Geoff McDonald, from the Sydney-based Hall Chadwick Accountancy firm. Mr McDonald said family illness had caused the business to go broke. Co-manager Dillon Martin (unrelated to his colleague), said Mr Kingwill arrived at the Pizza Hut on Sunday night to collect some belongings. He informed a supervisor of the closure but did not speak to the managers. "This is my first job. I will think twice before trusting an employer again," Mr Martin said. David Martin said two previous owners had gone into receivership during his 17 years with the restaurant. The father-of-two believes a downturn in sales in Ballina caused the problem. "Ballina food industry has been quiet over the last year," said the 38-year-old. "We have been down 100 dockets a week. Before that we would have about 630 a week. "I am a bit worried. I don't have references from this job. It's hard to get another job without references. "I am lucky I am in a union. At least they can negotiate for me. The blokes who aren't will have to do it for themselves." About 25 casual staff are out of pocket and superannuation is owed to both managers, and a previous employee. Mr McDonald said the General Employee Entitlement and Retrenchment Scheme will reimburse about 25 casual staff for lost wages, but the managers will lose out on their superannuation. Yum Restaurants corporate affairs manager, Angus Armstrong, said the company was in discussions with Mr McDonald to negotiate an outcome favourable to staff and customers. But Mr McDonald does not believe there is anything to negotiate. "Mr Kingwill needed to get out quickly, but Pizza Hut head office insisted on the usual training for potential franchise buyers," he said. "Mr Kingwill went broke. We come in when it's all over." Mr Kingwill was not available for comment.