Slimming firm trims right down

The weight loss empire run by Penrith chemist Tony Ferguson has slimmed down unexpectedly, collapsing last week.

And caught up in the failure is a member of Melbourne's Smorgon dynasty, Barry Smorgon, who owns almost half the group.

In 2009, Ferguson's operation was in the fat, reportedly selling more than $80 million of diet shakes, soups and snacks through chemists across Australia.

 But it is not the meal ticket it once was: corporate records show six companies associated with Tony Ferguson Weight Loss went into administration last Tuesday.

Barry Smorgon is a director of each company and owns 49 per cent of the group through his Jalco Group. Ferguson owns the remaining 51 per cent.

CBD spent much of Tuesday trying to get the skinny on the collapse, but information was thin on the ground.

A call to the group's registered address, care of accountants Behrens Rowley, failed to dislodge any morsels. An affable Charles Behrens, who was a director until mid-June, referred all inquiries to administrator Adam Farnsworth of Farnsworth Shepard. So did Smorgon's people, but sadly Farnsworth was unavailable all day.

But a now-deleted thread on the Tony Ferguson website forum provided a few crumbs.

''Is TF on the way out??????'' user Fluffypants asked on June 6.

''I had great success with TF three years ago but the product became unavailable from NZ stores without warning. After several calls to the support centre and their reassurance that they were trying to find another supplier, nothing has happened.

''After reading several posts on this forum and FB, it appears that the same thing has happened in the UK. Also I see there are several posts relating to sudden closures of TF centres or unavailability of certain products.

"I can't help but smell a rat."

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