Iconic Australian company goes bust as market share is devoured by Chinese competitors
- Aussie company Hills goes into administration after court defeat
- Creator of the Hills Hoist had a net loss of $23.9million in 2022
One of Australia’s most well-known companies has been placed into administration after losing a court battle with a $5.48m payout attached.
Hills, the company behind the iconic Hills Hoist clothesline, was placed into administration on Friday afternoon.
The company’s shares last traded at 2.3 cents, which valued the company at just $12.3m.
Hills was founded by Lance Hill in 1945, who invented the iconic clothesline which rotated with the wind in Adelaide. It revolutionised the way laundry was dried outdoors.
The company continued to diversify over the years, manufacturing TV anternnas, automotive components, electronic security, and healthcare technology.
The company that created the iconic Hills Hoist clothesline (pictured) has gone into administration after a court ruled Hills must pay more than $5 million to Stellar Vision Operation, sending the company under
Hills sold the manufacturing and sale rights of the Hills Hoist to AMES Australasia in 2017, after concluding it could not make money from the iconic product.
By 2000, the company had revenues in excess of $1billion, but at the end of the March 2023 quarter the company had a cash balance of $2.8million after reporting a loss of $23.9million in 2022.
The business had fallen upon hard times after struggling to compete against Chinese companies that now dominate the manufacturing sector.
The final nail in the coffin for the company was a court case, after it fell out with supplier Stellar Vision Operators over contractual matters.
The court case was originally dismissed in 2022, yet an appeal from Stellar saw the decision overruled and a $5.48 million payout ordered to be paid on May 18.
Following the decision, Hills requested that its shares be suspended as it negotiated the next steps with Stellar.
Hills said they were ‘seeking a voluntary suspension pending resolution and an announcement by the company in relation to ongoing settlement negotiations between the parties and other stakeholders, including the financier, which, if not satisfactorily resolved, have the potential to have a significant impact on the company’s financial condition’.
Hills was founded by Lance Hill in 1945, who came up with the idea for the Hills Hoist
Hills chief executive David Clarke saying the outcome was ‘incredibly disappointing’.
‘This is not an outcome we ever envisaged, particularly following our successful capital raising in April, which brought on board a new cornerstone investor and, we believed, set up Hills for long-term success,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘To have the company enter administration as a result of a historic legal action over a transaction that long predates the current management and board, and has never had any bearing on the operations of the business, is incredibly disappointing.
‘Our consistent legal advice was that this legal claim would ultimately be resolved in Hills’ favour, which made the Court of Appeal ruling so unexpected.
‘The board and management have worked tirelessly through the standstill period in an attempt to negotiate a commercial outcome with Stellar Vision that would protect the interests of all Hills shareholders, employees and other stakeholders.
‘However, we have been unable to reach an agreement that satisfied the requirements of all stakeholders.’
HOW THE HILLS HOIST BECAME AN AUSSIE ICON
The Hills Hoist is a type of rotary clothesline or washing line that is commonly found in Australia. It was invented by Lance Hill in Adelaide, South Australia in 1945. The Hills Hoist consists of a tall metal pole with a rotating top section and several arms or lines extending from it. These arms or lines have holes or hooks where you can hang your clothes to dry.
The Hills Hoist revolutionised the way laundry was dried, especially in suburban areas. It allowed for efficient and space-saving clothes drying, as the rotary design maximised the amount of laundry that could be hung in a small area. The rotating top section allowed the clothes to be exposed to the wind from all directions, helping them dry faster.
The Hills Hoist became an iconic symbol of Australian suburban life and is often associated with the Australian backyard. It is still widely used today, although modern versions may have additional features and materials for durability and convenience.