Dick Smith provides no drama, no discounts

Never in his 25 years as an expert in corporate recoveries has McGrathNicol's Joseph Hayes presided over a creditors' meeting where not one question was asked from the floor.

Mr Hayes called for questions twice at the first official gathering of creditors, owed over $400 million by collapsed retailer Dick Smith in Sydney on Thursday.

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Dick Smith administrators address creditors at a meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

But there was not a peep.

Adorned in enough black apparel to pass for a funeral procession, the sentiment among the hundred or so suppliers and staff representatives was as calm and clinical as the ice-box conference room, in the bowels of the Wesley Mission's Pitt Street conference centre.

Sombre mood: administrator Jamie Harris during Dick Smith's first creditors' meeting.
Sombre mood: administrator Jamie Harris during Dick Smith's first creditors' meeting. Photo: Daniel Munoz

The voluntary administrator had braced itself for a lively session.

A team of at least six support staff were peppered throughout the audience, taking registrations, wielding microphones, attending to a platoon of media allowed in to observe but muzzled from asking questions and asked to turn off all recording devices.

Journalists were champing at the bit. They'd come for theatre. They had burning questions of their own.

Press conference

But, at a press conference 30 minutes later, given their own turn to drill the administrators, even the press corps had lost some of their fire.

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Mr Hayes claims the sedate nature of proceedings was due to the public having a better understanding of administration processings.

Some attendees admitted they were intimidated by the size of the crowd. The threat of the TV cameras was enough to keep anger in check.

Employees were scared of being sacked, having received a letter from receivers Ferrier Hodgson last week ordering them not to speak to media without express permission.

In a much smaller closed session that morning, dealing with the affairs of Apple reseller Mac 1 – one of 12 subsidiaries in the Dick Smith Group, and one of only two entities not in receivership – there had been only 20 people and much more lively debate.

Organisers had allocated two hours for the meeting. It took exactly 50 minutes.

Two blocks away, the atmosphere in Dick Smith's George Street outlet was as sedate as the creditors meeting. Staff outnumbered shoppers. A handful of hopeful bargain hunters cruised the aisles. Disappointed they retreated into the 30 degree summer heat outside.

For 29-year-old Sydney-based chef Brad Carson, a trip to Dick Smith's store on Sunday yielded no purchases despite the multitude of sale stickers on products.

"There didn't seem to be any real reduction in pricing – it was all pretty average," Mr Carson said. "I wouldn't have bothered to buy anything and the prices at JB Hi-Fi​ were better when I've been there."

"I thought they'd have better sales," said Alex Pask, a 20-year-old photography student from Baulkham Hills, who walked out of Dick Smith's George Street store empty handed despite entering the premises with the intention to buy a new TV.

"I was disappointed – the TVs were more expensive than what you could get elsewhere."