Moncton-based produce retailer declares insolvency, creditors owed more than $3M

Fresh produce retailer Tomavo has filed for insolvency, and a list of creditors shows it owes other companies more than $3 million. Pictured is its Fredericton branch. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Fresh produce retailer Tomavo has filed for insolvency, and a list of creditors shows it owes other companies more than $3 million. Pictured is its Fredericton branch. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

A Moncton-based produce retailer with four locations across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia has filed for insolvency, and documents show the company owes creditors more than $3 million.

Tomavo Inc., which is headquartered on Mountain Road, filed for temporary protection from its creditors under Canada's Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in order to propose a settlement of its debts, which total $3,356,845.70.

The company issued a notice to its creditors on Oct. 13 that it would be making the proposal to them, with KPMG Inc. acting as its trustee.

In its notice of intention to make a proposal, several companies are listed, including farms in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario, as well as produce wholesalers in Quebec.

Tomavo has not responded to a request for an interview from CBC News.

According to Service New Brunswick's corporate affairs registry database, Tomavo was founded in May 2017 with Samar Ali Najarian listed as the agent and a director, and Zeeyad Ibrahim M. Alarjaf and Omar Abjullah A. Alfalah also named as directors, all under Moncton addresses.

A document filed by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in April 2020 shows that Alfalah and Alarjaf stepped down as directors in February 2020, at the same time that Mohamed Amer Abdualsoud stepped in as one, registered under a Halifax address.

'Everything changed' in recent months

Hardy's Produce in Grand-Barachois, N.B., supplied Tomavo with produce for the last two years, said Sandy Hardy, co-owner of the farm, which is owed $5,433.

For most of that time, Tomavo was prompt with paying them, Hardy said.

"The last few months was when everything changed," and Tomavo failed to make good on paying her and her husband for produce they sold to the company, she said.

"When you sell something, you hope to get paid. What can you do? I'm just thankful it wasn't more [money]," she said.

Allan Hardy, co-owner of the farm, said while he is losing some money, it won't hurt the business as most of the produce he'd sold Tomavo was the farm's surplus.

"So it was either I sell it to them or throw it away, so it really doesn't affect me very much," he said.

Other companies listed as creditors contacted by CBC News either declined to comment or did not respond before deadline.

According to the list Courchesne Larose of Anjou, Que., is owed $1.6 million, the most out of all the creditors. The company's website says it's a fresh fruit and vegetable wholesaler, importer and exporter that handles distribution, processing and packaging.

More locally, the company owes Jacksonville, N.B.-based Valley Refrigeration $31,350 and Upper Keswick, N.B.-based McPhee and Company Ltd. $10,272.

Tomavo also owes N.B. Power $15,548 and WorkSafeNB $4,100.

4 locations across N.B. and N.S.

According to Tomavo's website, the company was founded "to serve our communities by providing fresh fruit and vegetables every day.

"When possible we support our local farmers and our Canadian producers to keep business close to home."

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

The company's website indicates it has locations in Fredericton, Moncton, Bedford, N.S., and Halifax.

Employees at both the Moncton and Fredericton locations answered the phone when called on Thursday, but no one was available for an interview.

Signs on the doors of the Fredericton location indicated the store would be "moving soon" to 817 Prospect St., and that the company was hiring full and part-time employees.

KPMG also declined to provide an interview.

In the notice issued to creditors, Stéphane De Broux is named as acting on behalf of KPMG and a bio for him on the company's website says that for more than 20 years he's "focused on providing business turnarounds and restructuring advice to companies and their stakeholders."