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PERTH, Dec 3 AAP

December 03 2012, 4:02PM

The group behind iconic food brand Rosella has been placed into receivership, fuelling fears of more job losses in Australia's ailing manufacturing sector.

Ferrier Hodgson announced on Monday that partners Steve Sherman, Jim Sarantinos and John Lindholm had been appointed receivers and managers of food manufacturer Gourmet Food Holdings and Waterwheel.

The group's interests include sauce, spice and chutney manufacturer Rosella, based at Seven Hills, NSW; Auckland-based organic soups and pre-made meals maker Pitango; and crispbreads and cracker maker Waterwheel, based in Dandenong, Victoria.

Mr Sherman said the receivers would conduct an urgent assessment of the group's financial position, and hold talks with key stakeholders including employees, customers and suppliers to determine whether operations could continue.

Voluntary administrators were appointed on November 30.

The group's secured creditor had provided support for an extended period of time as it worked towards a sale, the receivers said.

An expressions-of-interest campaign will be launched in the next few days in an effort to identify potential buyers for the group or its individual businesses.

Opposition spokeswoman for industry Sophie Mirabella said the news was "yet more evidence that Labor has failed our manufacturers", burdening them with additional cost pressures from the carbon tax.

"This comes as we find out that Australian manufacturing activity is now in its ninth consecutive month of decline," Ms Mirabella said.

"Manufacturing in Australia is in crisis and this economically negligent Labor government continues to stand by as our manufacturing sector collapses."

She said 33,000 jobs in manufacturing had been lost since the carbon tax was announced.

The Gourmet Food Holdings group employs about 275 people, who have been warned their jobs could be affected by some restructuring of the companies.

"The receivers cannot guarantee continued employment, however, it is the receivers' intention to explore all options to ensure that your employment can be preserved," Ferrier Hodgson said in a statement to employees.

"We will endeavour to provide you with a further update as soon as possible.

"At this stage, we are unable to determine whether employee entitlements will be paid in full due to uncertainty surrounding the realisable value of floating charge assets and the prospects of securing a sale of the business."