20 May 2014

Abano joint venture slow to break even

7:44 am on 20 May 2014

Abano Healthcare says its audiology joint-venture is taking about twice as long as expected to reach break-even point.

Abano and its joint-venture partner, its disaffected former director Peter Hutson, have invested more than $60 million to establish the business and Abano's half is currently valued in its books at $12.9 million.

On Monday, following a ruling in its favour by the Employment Relations Authority, Abano terminated Mr Hutson's employment.

The ERA decision said Mr Hutson's employment was suspended on October the 8th last year. He continued to work despite this.

Abano's managing director, Alan Clarke, said as chairman and chief executive of the joint-venture's operating subsidiaries, Mr Hutson has to be held responsible for its performance.

Mr Clarke said several changes to senior management teams in both Australia and Asia made two years ago have led to a significant improvement to the point where the business will soon start to break even.

He also said the business model has been changed compared to what it was in New Zealand.

Mr Clarke said the business model into Australia has been a retail model largely-based on shopping malls, rather than the traditional hearing aid clinics in suburban setting which was the model in New Zealand.