Bakehouse staff left thousands out of pocket


Samudera staff and suppliers left out of pocket after closure. Photo: Tex Reeks.

Dozens of workers have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after a popular Mandurah cafe suddenly closed its doors without paying staff.

Samudera Bakehouse owners Nathan and Angela Loaring blamed COVID restrictions and mask mandates for the demise of their businesses, including a Mandurah restaurant, Malaga bakery, and a recently opened Perth CBD coffee outlet.

Baker John Burnett said he was owed more than $10,000 when the couple abruptly closed the doors to the Mandurah Samudera Artisan Bakehouse in March.

“With all my holidays and everything, they owe me about $12,000,” Mr Burnett said.

“We haven’t received any payments yet.”

Samudera closed on March 9, with all equipment and vehicles removed from their Mandurah venue within 48 hours.

Liquidators were appointed two months later, on May 21.

In a social media post made to their now-deleted Samudera Facebook page, the bakehouse said they were closing due to the impact COVID had on their business.

“..due to the massive impact that the current mandates have had and the unknown impacts of COVID in the community, we have made the difficult decision to close both our Mandurah and Perth stores for the time being,” the post said.

“Although this door may be closing, for now, it is not goodbye to Samudera forever.”

The Loarings did not respond to a request for an interview.

Mr Burnett said he was given less than 24-hours notice about the closure.

“Most people received a text message a day before the closure and it pretty much said due to issues with COVID, we’ve had to close, with close of business as of tomorrow.

“Some staff weren’t told and had to be told by other staff.”

The 34-year-old baker said the owners tried to help by finding staff jobs at other local businesses, but he was still owed money.

Ticcidew liquidator Simon Coad said his team were investigating the issue, but that 40 staff and a number of suppliers were owed “well into six figures”.

“There are a whole number of people who haven’t been paid and have outstanding wages and annual leave, etcetera,” Mr Coad said.

“We’re currently working through that. These are companies, which have very little in assets. There’s virtually nothing left in assets.”

Mr Coad said staff may end up being paid through the government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) scheme, but that can happen once the company is in liquidation.

“Though it shut a couple of months ago… it’s only just gone into liquidation now,” Mr Coad said.

He said the whole process could take another two months.

In March, Bibra Lake supplier Evoo Quality Foods said they were left more than $50,000 out of pocket because of the closure.

“He hasn’t made a payment in over three months,” a Evoo Quality Foods spokeperson said.

Mr Coad said a company’s suppliers during a liquidation process, become unsecured creditors.

“We would anticipate there may be actions to reclaim money in the liquidations, which is one of the things we’re looking at,” Mr Coad said.

Mr Coad said the restaurant would not be re-opening any time soon.

In December last year, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a multimillion-dollar financial support package for businesses directly impacted by the public health rules in Perth and Peel.

Small businesses could apply for grants of up to $12,500 to assist with some of the costs incurred because of public health rules, which included an indoor mask mandate, a dancing ban and seated consumption of food or drink only.