StretchSense directors appoint administrators
By Victoria Young
July 23 (BusinessDesk) - A futuristic textile company awarded $15 million in Callaghan Innovation grants and backed by a government investment fund has been put into voluntary administration.
StretchSense, the owner of the futuristic ZoZo suit, had Staples Rodway’s Tony Maginess appointed as administrator last Monday.
Maginess would not immediately answer BusinessDesk’s questions, saying more information would be provided by email. A creditor’s meeting is to be held tomorrow.
Director Ben O'Brien would also not discuss the administration, which was agreed by the company’s board. The process is aimed at getting businesses back on track rather than closing them down for good.
StretchSense had received investment from Japanese retailer StartToday - now ZoZo - in 2016.
In November 2017, StretchSense had signed a US$20 million deal with StartToday which would have allowed the retailer to increase its stake from 40 percent to full ownership.
However, the transaction was called off last year.
The National Business Review reported in May last year that the deal’s collapse meant 145 of 180 staff were laid off.
StretchSense was officially formed on November 2012, having been spun out of The University of Auckland. Its fabrics were promoted as the 'third-generation' of wearables in which soft sensors and electronics were integrated into garments for the sports, health and virtual reality sector.
The firm had secured investment from Ralf Muller, Auckland UniServices, Flying Kiwi Angels and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Amounts aren’t clear but the university entity holds a 4.5 percent stake while NZVIF holds 5.84 percent.
According to its website, StretchSense had more than 300 companies in more than 28 countries prototyping products with its sensor technology. It was awarded $5 million over three years in Callaghan Innovation funding, from the start of 2017.
Its other co-founders are Iain Anderson and Todd Gisby. The three co-founders including O’Brien each have an 11 percent stake in the business.