Claims Coffee Club ‘short-changed staff’, owed $420k tax

 

A Queensland Coffee Club franchise has been accused of underpaying some of its staff and not paying them their full superannuation entitlements, according to a court claim.

The cafe in the south-east Queensland town of Warwick also owed $420,000 in unpaid tax before it was wound up and a liquidator was appointed two years ago, court documents state.

Details of the underpayment claims were revealed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane where the liquidator of the cafe franchise has slapped the franchising arm of global coffee chain with a lawsuit alleging breaches of workplace protection laws aimed at protecting vulnerable workers.

The liquidator of Wellngood Pty Ltd, which traded as the Coffee Club in the south-east Queensland town of Warwick, has alleged The Coffee Club Franchising Company Pty Ltd (CCFC) should be held liable for the franchisees failure to pay superannuation to its staff.

Liquidator David Hambleton from Rogers Reidy claims in court documents that CCFC knew or could reasonably expected to have known that Wellngood would fail to pay its staff their super because CCFC knew Wellngood had "a history of financial arrears with many of its creditors" and that Wellngood had failed to give CCFC its tax records when asked.

Wellngood also alleges that CCFC knew that the ATO had tried to wind up Wellngood as early as August 2015, and that CCFC knew by August 2017 that Wellngood had underpaid some of its staff, and by August 2018 CCFC knew Wellngood was not paying its staff their full super entitlement.

Lyndal Cook, director of Wellngood, trading as Coffee Club Warwick. Photo Deanna Millard/Warwick Daily News
Lyndal Cook, director of Wellngood, trading as Coffee Club Warwick. Photo Deanna Millard/Warwick Daily News

Wellngood also alleges in their claim that the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation issued a claim in June 2018 for $421,280 in unpaid superannuation guarantee charges, four months after it filed a court application to wind up Wellngood.

The company operated the cafe between October 2012 and April 2018, the claim states.

Wellngood's sole director and sole shareholder is Lyndal Shayne Cook, 48, from Calamvale in Brisbane's south, company records show.

Mr Hambleton was appointed on April 27, 2018 after Federal Court Registrar Murray Belcher ordered ordered the company be wound up in insolvency on a petition presented by the Australian Taxation Office.

CCFC has not filed a defence.

"As the matter is before the courts we would prefer not to comment at this stage," CCFC's spokeswoman Megan Magill said,

Wellngood's solicitor declined to comment when approached by The Courier Mail.

The case is due back in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane for hearing on November 17.

The Coffee Club opened its first store in Brisbane's Eagle St Pier in 1989 and now has over 400 stores globally; 296 in Australia, 60 in New Zealand, 29 in Thailand and the remaining stores in Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia and Maldives, according to its website.

Originally published as Claims Coffee Club 'short-changed staff', owed $420k tax