Sunday, 19 February 2017

Re-branding Queen Street.

In case you haven't noticed Queen St. is now Queen St Plaza - The Weekend Festival Place.
The photo above is taken from a Facebook feed.
We love the logo.

Have Your Say - click here.

20/02/2017 13:39:23 Queen street plaza "I love the concept of the plaza, but if it is to work management  need to make sure they fill it up with traders.  What I saw on Saturday was very sparse, and particularly in regards to the food offering was incredibly bland."
You make a good point  - the experience needs to live up to the expectation of a festival. But it is probably not as simple as "filling it up with traders". Let's see how it gets tweaked over coming weeks. Thanks for your comment - Ed

Latest Retail News - 19/2/2017

Latest Retail News – 19/2/2017
1. Wesfarmers considers selling its Officeworks business.
2. Dominos reports strong sales.
3. Nick Scali says strong housing market boosting sales.
4. Coles earnings slip in otherwise bright result for Wesfarmers.
5. Treasury Wine Estates to push its US wine brands particularly into China.
6. Nestle reports 6% profit drop with China business retarding performance.
7. JB HiFi reports profit up by 31.7%.

More News Briefs ......

Howards Storage World Sold – Howards Storage World have emerged from voluntary administration with news that they have sold the business and its franchise network. The group operated 29 company-owned stores and 30 franchises throughout NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
The new owners of the specialty retailer have now been confirmed as UAE based dual companies My Home Storage and Store Trade.

Officeworks Up For Sale – Wesfarmers have announced they are considering selling their Officeworks business. After successfully doubling earnings since 2009 the retail conglomerate has decided to monetise its value including the prospect of a public offering.

Wesfarmers Mixed Results – Overall Wesfarmers have reported strong growth with net profit up by 13.2%. The Bunnings Division performed well despite some losses in the UK during initial setup. Kmart earnings were up by 16.3% while Target sales were down by 18% and earnings down by 78%. Coles struggled in the current supermarket price war with earnings down 2.6% for the first half year.

Smaller UK Supermarket Reinvents Itself

The UK's supermarket business comprises a bewildering array of participants. Main players including Tesco's, Sainsbury's, and Asda, are joined by Aldi and Lidl who are taking market share at a fast rate. But a significant performer is Iceland which has just increased its market share to 2.3% and has been voted the best online supermarket in the U.K.

And, according to the Guardian, it has achieved its growth by appealing to the middle classes with offers like Black Tiger Prawns, Wagyu burgers, Ostrich fillets, and 28 day matured steaks. Going more upmarket, and tuning their merchandising and advertising has led to a significant revival for this smaller player in a very competitive market.

Latest Consumer Spending Analysis from NAB

The latest National Australia Bank's consumer spending report shows that eating out is on the rise and that spending in regional areas is showing a faster rate of growth than in metropolitan areas.

Overall, spending growth was fastest for Accommodation, Cafes, Pubs & Restaurants (13.5%). Economist and adviser to Dun and Bradstreet, Stephen Koukoulas, commented on  Smartcompany's website  that increasing consumer focus on spending on experiences, and fast paced lifestyles was leading to more individuals eating out. “You’re getting a well-off group of people who are spending things on services, not goods. They’re buying nice things, rather than buying on goods,” Koukoulas says.

Overall spending in cities grew by 2.9% over the year while some regional areas recorded growth above 15% with Murrindindi Shire (the area around Kinglake and Alexandra) and Buloke (Birchip, Charlton, Donald) showing the highest rate of growth in Victoria.

NAB's customer spending excludes mortgages and other credit facility payments and government services.

C Shed Activation

We reported in last week's article that plans for an "Incubation Market" were underway for the top end of C Shed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Grouping our budding entrepreneurs has merit although achieving the mass necessary for a market buzz could be a problem.
As our photo indicates there were some interesting looking displays on Saturday although the holes between stalls were apparent and hopefully these will be filled as the concept gains momentum. 
It was certainly a brave decision to try a new concept when trader attendance generally is at a low point.

Have Your Say - click here.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 12/2/2017

Wow! That’s Big – was the reaction from one trader when told that the temporary market pavilion on Queen St. will occupy almost the entire length from Franklin St. to Victoria St. Yet, according to planning application documents there will be no increase in available stall space once the Fruit and Vegetable traders from aisles A,B&C have been relocated.

Guns N Roses hit town on Tuesday – a number of traders did business with the vast legion of Bruce Springsteen fans in town last week. And this week it is Guns N Roses performing to 70,000 fans at the MCG on Tuesday night. Let’s hope for bumper trading.

C Shed Activation – budding market traders are to be located in the top end of C Shed commencing next Saturday and Sunday as a business incubation theme is launched – (see separate article).

First TRC Meeting held – apparently the first meeting involving the new Trader Representatives and management was held this week. According to management sources it went well.

Made In Australia – apparently one of our traders who sells Australian made goods received some free online promotion from the Made In Australia campaign and gained a significant sales boost. If you are licensed to use the Made In Australia logo you might like to check out the opportunities.

Cruise Ship Diversion - a trader tells us that the huge Norwegian cruise ship currently disabled in Port Phillip has clogged up the works meaning other cruise liners have been diverted to Phillip Island and Mornington. That may impact on passenger attendance at our market.

Have Your Say - click here.

Latest Retail News – 12/2/2017
1. Ralph Lauren CEO resigns after “dire” results.
2. ABS reports moderate retail sales growth in December.
3. Mobile phone retailer, Allphones, enters administration.
4. Kathmandu says solid same store growth in first half.
5. Men’s formalwear brands Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett appoint administrators.
6. Premier Investments, Solomon Lew, says group achieved record first half sales.
7. UK supermarket giant, Tesco, buys up food wholesaler.
8. Alibaba opens Australian headquarters in Melbourne.
9. L’Oreal receives offer for struggling Body Shop chain.
10. Aldi becomes Britain’s fifth largest supermarket.  

Temporary Market Details Released

Temporary market View From Franklin St.

The Planning Application for the temporary market pavilion has been released online and contains some interesting details.

The pavilion will dominate Queen St. extending almost the entire length from Franklin St. to Victoria St.

The new two-storey, greenhouse-inspired design, will include an open air trading hall on the ground level and a market garden on the upper level.

The market garden will produce 200 metric tonnes of fresh produce annually

The design includes a biodigester that can convert 2 tonnes of fruit and vegetable waste  per day.

A dehydration unit will convert  fish offal to compost.

These waste treatment units will create fertiliser for use within the greenhouse and water for toilet flushing.

Ceiling and wall-mounted fans for cooling and electric infrared radiant  heaters for heating will be provided.

LED lighting and a daylight lighting control system to reduce energy consumption are part of the planning.

Mobile cool-rooms will be placed along the eastern edge of the current car park.

The Queen St. car park entrance will be removed.

The current toilet block on Queen St. will be removed and temporary facilities provided.

The current mature Plane Trees bordering the car park and on the median strip separating the bus parking area will be retained as part of the greenhouse design.

Temporary Market View From Victoria St.

The Planning Application occupies over 35 MB of data and if you wish to explore the detail further, can be found here - Planning Application for QVM Temporary Market.

Plan To Activate C Shed

The top end of C shed in the upper market has seen many attempts to revitalise the area but the latest to start next weekend has definite merit.

Empty stalls in A, B, and C shed have become a common sight as our market grapples with changing customer demand. There were a number of attempts to populate the top of C shed with special markets. Essentially this involved handing over the aisle to outside market operators who brought in the “cream of the crop” craft traders and a variety of clothing traders from other high profile markets like Flemington, Mornington and Red Hill.

They didn’t survive the long term although the fact that there rents were often higher than QVM rents didn’t help. Then there was the car boot sale which allowed the public to directly engage with QVM but, for many, set the wrong direction for Australia’s premier market.

This time the aim is to populate the aisle with our latest crop of new trader applicants. These are the fresh new entrepreneurs who want to try their hand at a short term lease and give market retailing a try. So it would become a bit like an incubation market.

Putting these new traders in the one place makes a lot of sense.
  • -       It gives them that group cohesion in the scary early days of setting up their business.
  • -      It enables QVM staff, and perhaps nominated experienced traders, to monitor their performance more closely rather than have them spread across the market.
  • -      Creating an “Incubation Market” has great marketing potential. – “Meet Melbourne’s newest retail entrepreneurs”

The new activation will happen on Saturday’s and Sunday’s commencing next weekend (February 18th).

QVM taking control of this activation is great but we can see one potential problem. The top end of C shed has 18 or so double stalls. The plan is to start off with 10 or 12 traders and hopefully grow to 18. Until you reach 18 there is the danger of the “toothless market”. A fully populated aisle is essential to create that buying buzz. Empty stalls are unsightly and a downer for business.

So how do you ensure a full aisle from the start? Why not extend the offer to current traders? Many current traders will have harbored plans to try a new idea or experiment with a variation on their current range and they already have the facilities and expertise to do the job.  

This could be just the answer to achieve a full aisle, give current traders an opportunity to experiment at little cost, and perhaps unearth the next group of success stories at QVM.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Latest Retail News .......administrators called in, takeover, hot new category.


High Profile Fashion Collapses - February is becoming the month of reassessing fortunes particularly in the Australian fashion scene.
Last week David Lawrence and Marcs announced they were in financial strife and their 52 retail stores, 11 outlets, and 140 concession stores were up for sale.
This week Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett collapsed into voluntary administration. Combined, these brands have 29 stores.

Retail Defection - Myer's top fashion buyer Teneille Ferguson has defected to David Jones.

Takover Bid for Specialty Fashion Group. - The owner of Katies, Rivers, Millers and City Chic has received an offer from a private equity group.

Solomon Lew's Premier Investments Upbeat - A positive earnings update from Premier Investments has pleased the stock market. 

Facebook is reported to be shutting down a number of its pop-up Virtual Reality stores in US due to lack of interest.

The Latest Hot Product - according to this week's retail news the latest hot product is high-end and high-tech men's underwear featuring $70 garments.

Have Your Say - click here.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Single Most Important Contribution Made For Traders By The QVMAC

The QVM trader representative group is about to transition from the old QVMAC (Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee) to the new TRC (Trader Representative Committee). So what does that mean and what has the QVMAC achieved?

In its 6 years, the QVMAC introduced a number of important innovations for traders. In fact there were over 40 of them but in the interests of keeping you awake long enough to read this article we have chosen some of the more important ones. And one of them has particular significance. Here is the short list –
1. Enhancing the penetration and relevance of trader advice including introducing the presence of two Board members at all QVMAC meetings and addressing the full board directly each year.

2. Direct discussion with City of Melbourne officials including the original meeting with the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, seeking renewed official interest in our market back in March 2012.

3. Introduced as an independent website to inform traders about market matters including reporting on regular QVMAC meetings with management and Board members.

4. Important operational issues including requesting, monitoring and achieving lighting improvements across the market particularly in poorly lit areas like K Shed.

5. Briefing management, Board and Council on a whole range of important issues including cruise ships and tourist engagement, customer research and measurement, QVM policies and practices, trading hours, relevant practices in overseas markets, and QVM Market Renewal.

6. Introducing specific trader benefits including new trader induction program, single day absences for SL License holders and a heat policy for older traders.

7. And the single most important contribution – active lobbying with the City of Melbourne for a program of market investment following decades of neglect. The QVMAC has made market investment a key issue from day one and the up to $250m market renewal program is a welcome and important component in our market’s future survival.

The groundwork has been laid for the new TRC to continue a fruitful relationship with QVM Management and the CoM. One of their key aims no doubt will be to ensure that the acquired funding is spent in the best interests of the market and its traders. All traders will wish them every success in their endeavours.

Latest Retail News – 5/2/2017

Latest Retail News – 5/2/2017
1. Pizza Hut in trouble for underpaying staff.
2. Payless unable to find buyer, will close 132 stores.
3. Forever 21 launches active wear range.
4. H&M launches garment re-cycling program.
5. Priceline expects record half year.
6. Ex Billabong CEO sees jail time.
7. Australia’s first official Lego store opens at Dreamworld on Gold Coast.
8. Citi analysis suggests sluggish start for retail in new year.
9. Aldi plans four year expansion program.
10. Aussie suit retailer, Institchu, opens New York showroom.
11. H&M says profit up and online growing.
12. Fashion brands David Lawrence and Marcs under voluntary administration.
13. Coca-Cola launches biggest design change in 130 years.
14. Bunnings opens first DIY store in UK.
15. South African equity group buys Decor homewares brand.
16. Amazon misses revenue target.

QVM In The News - 5/2/2017

Queen Victoria Market is celebrating the Lunar New Year with Chinese food and festivities every day and night from January 27 to February 12.
Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market sits on the former site of Melbourne's first cemetery. It was divided into areas according to religious denominations, ...
In May 2015, Queen Victoria Market management sent a notice to traders warning their pest control program was being compromised due to poor ...

Heard Under The Sheds – 5/2/2017

Rodent Control – the Herald-Sun article in Saturday’s paper drew an angry response from traders in many areas of the market particularly after it was discovered that the full story had not been told. See seperate article for details.

Oops – Whose watching the weather watchers? – a small number of weather measuring stations have been placed under the sheds as the market gathers information that may assist with renewal plans and climate control. Measuring temperature and humidity will go a long way to assessing customer and trader comfort and health needs. Unfortunately the weather station in K Shed is plugged in to a communal electricity power point and is often switched off during trading hours. We understand it has not recorded data.
Let’s hope whoever is responsible for its operation gets it back on stream and contributing useful data for this important aspect of market trading.

Plugging The Holes – February can be a quiet trading month with a number of traders taking leave and creating unsightly gaps in the aisles. Some traders are well prepared for spreading and fill the gaps nicely while others make a half-hearted attempt at a larger display and don’t really improve the look of the market. A number of traders are talking about a more professional attempt at “curating” the market while others are concerned at the impact that “curating” may have on valued stall positions.  More discussion needed.

Second Guessing Trading Conditions – in the previous item we noted that February can be a quiet trading month and yet we should never underestimate the ability of retailing to surprise us. A number of traders are reporting good sales from customers visiting Melbourne for the Bruce Springsteen concerts.

Dual Meaning – speaking of the Bruce Springsteen concerts – caricaturist, Ivano, was completing a drawing for a couple of Springsteen fans and he had drawn T-shirts on each of their bodies which required a caption. On the males T-shirt he wrote “Bruce Springsteen Melbourne 2017” and on the female shirt he simply wrote “The Boss”. She was very pleased.

Mouse Found At Trader’s Stall

This article is in response to a page 6 Herald-Sun article on Saturday which referred to rodent control at QVM and placed our market in a poor light.

Let’s make it clear up front that we are in no way attempting to downgrade the importance of absolute cleanliness when it comes to food. An open air market has particular issues with food management and QVM and traders are acutely aware of their obligations. Our flippant photo is directed at the Herald-Sun treatment on this occasion.

The “selective” publishing of that page 6 article neglected a key paragraph that was included in the paper’s online version. The missing paragraph read – A City of Melbourne spokesperson said their Environmental Health Officers worked closely with the 13 businesses whose premises received unsatisfactory scores. “Follow-up inspections last year found all these premises were compliant,” the spokesperson said.”
The online article went on – “Chief Executive of the Queen Victoria Market Malcolm McCullough said there was a thorough pest control program in place at the Queen Victoria Market. “Two contractors service the seven hectare site, with pest control measures undertaken fortnightly in the open-air sheds and public spaces, and monthly in fixed shops and enclosed areas.””

13/02/2017 11:13:30 Contaminated food areas "Dear Greg why were the food areas that were deemed by the health authority to be not up to standard  in the market not named.   The are named outside the market." Thanks. The traders were not named in the newspaper articles mentioned in our story. I'd be interested to know where they were revealed. - Ed.

Recent Good News Stories From QVM...and a launching pad for 2017.

The new year is a time for review, an opportunity to look at what has happened over the past year, and prepare to launch into the new year with some confidence.

Fortunately 2016 brought a number of good news stories to the Queen Vic Market that we think will set a firm base for that launch.

1. Our new CEO – the arrival of Malcolm McCullough and promotions executive , Mark Scott, has injected a much needed quality into QVM management – sound retail experience.

2. Openness – a number of traders have applauded the management style that gives all traders face to face access to key management personnel right up to the CEO. The Engagement Hub discussions have planted many seeds of innovation.

3. ATMs – strategic location of ATMs has proved a great

initiative. Sending customers to the next aisle instead of Queen St. has certainly enhanced customer service.

4. New traders – there have been a number of new additions to our trader ranks with the credentials to enhance the appeal for the whole market - Merlo Coffee’s brilliant Torrefazione, Scott Pickett’s outstanding new deli, our new trader of the year award winner, Kris Robinson, Jen’s Craft, Fremantle Water Beads, Mr.B Handicraftsman, and apologies to all those we haven’t mentioned.

5. Awards Night – speaking of award winners, our inaugural Trader Awards Night in September was a great success as it celebrated the wonderful contribution of traders to QVM’s heart and soul. Hey – we are its heart and soul!

6. A Trader is elected to City Council – Michael Caifia’s election to City Council. Continues the good news stories. Michael will not be able to vote on QVM matters but his presence at city hall can’t help but enhance our role in the city.

7. Revitalising the Night Market – our incredibly successful Night Market looked a little vulnerable last season as sales and attendance dropped off, but this season the vigour has returned with good crowd numbers thanks to a revitalised program. Well done to all concerned.

8. Social media comes of age – the QVM social media machine stepped up a notch in 2016 with regular promotional videos on Facebook and some very encouraging viewing statistics. Ten thousand views for a trader’s video is a good result.

9. Our own TV show – My Market Kitchen commenced screening last year and drew a great connection with the people’s market and our wonderful food offer.

10. QVM takes over liquor sales at Night Market – this may be a contentious good news story with some traders complaining that small businesses have been denied opportunity. However there are probably at least two good reasons why QVM running the bar at the Night Market is good news. Firstly it keeps the profits from liquor sales within the market. That reduces the pressure on QVM income and may just finance our next rent reduction (wishful thinking). The other good reason is that at last QVM has a direct link to sales trends. They now know what impact their measures can have on sales, albeit in just one category.

11. Currency Exchange - at last our own currency exchange booth in A Shed.

These are our good news stories for the year, but let's face it, good news can mean different things to different people and in a social and business structure as complex as QVM's, one person's good news may not be quite as positive to another. We welcome your thoughts.

Have Your Say – click here.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 29/1/2017

Website Payments – one of our traders urges others traders to consider PayPal as an option for their online payment facilities. This trader offers traditional Visa/Mastercard/Amex facilities but says almost half his customers choose to use PayPal. He believes this is because of their strong online reputation through the likes of Ebay.

Sparks Fly Over Facebook Post – one of our traders who commented on Victraders about an article was dismayed to find that Friends of the Market had copied and pasted their comments on the Friends Facebook page and also issued a press release about its content. The trader angrily pointed out that the content was strictly for Victraders readers and not for public consumption. The Facebook post was quickly withdrawn.

Trader Elections – one of our candidates has questioned the wisdom of combining F and E sheds under the one representative. He believes the totally different nature of food and general retailing warrants separate representatives. Perhaps that could be one of the changes he makes when, and if, he gets elected.

Lunar New Year Stimulus – QVM has embarked on a number of promotional activities for the Lunar New Year. There is growing global evidence that the event is becoming bigger and bigger from a retail point of view each year. One trader who volunteered to be part of the Wishing Wall promotion received visits from 9 different groups at his stall on Saturday. The promotion involves customers scanning a QR code on the Wishing Wall outside the Queen St. food court which takes them to the Wechat website (China’s most popular messaging service) and a special offer from one of approximately 20 traders. The level of customer interest that trader experienced certainly showed potential for this type of promotion.

Heat In J Shed - Back on the 8th of January we published a trader comment about the debilitating impact of extreme heat on the South side of J Shed. One of the traders affected received a visit from Market Officers but has since received no more feedback and they are keen to see this issue doesn't get lost in the "too hard basket".

Tennis Celebrity Visits Market - and not just any tennis celebrity - one of the greatest - Rod Laver himself. The man whose name adorns Melbourne's great tennis stadium is a market fan and today (29/1/2017) he was sighted in Rear L purchasing a kid's toy.

Should Your Online Prices Be The Same As At Your Stall?

We are told that omni-channel retailing includes a seamless buying experience for your customer whether they buy online or in-stall. So does that mean that prices need to be the same?

We know that major retailers have different prices in different locations to allow for “market differences”. We suspect that translates to “If I can get a higher price in that location, I will go for it.” or “If competition is higher in that location I will adjust my price accordingly”.

A QVM Trader who sells, say socks, gears up his market operation for a certain level of mass demand. Volume is the key and in a popular market like The Queen Vic Market he can achieve quick turnover and keep the costs associated with an average sale at a reasonable level. But if a customer buys one pair of socks online that cost/volume ratio is destroyed. By the time the pair of $7 socks has been packed, invoiced, and delivered to the post office he is losing on the deal. It is not clear just where the break even occurs for an online transaction but it is more likely to occur with a $50 or $60 sale than a $7 sale.

Traders who sell higher priced items may not have such a problem and may be able to set uniform prices across their online and in-stall transactions.

The answer to the question “Should your online prices be the same as at your stall?” probably needs to follow standard retail thinking. In the same way that a pure online retailer can claim to offer cheaper prices because of low overheads, then a brick’s and mortar market trader should be able to sell cheaper at his stall which is his “volume” location and charge more for “inefficient” online transactions. If the reverse applies then that is fine.

There is a lot of hype in retail commentary about keeping prices the same across all your business activities. But the price you charge needs to reflect retail reality and a realistic margin. Rather than set hard and fast rules, traders should be encouraged to do what works for them - no apologies needed.

Latest Retail News – 29/1/2017

Latest Retail News – 29/1/2017
1. Cosmetics manufacturer and retailer, MAC Cosmetics, opens first Australian airport store in Adelaide.
2. Burberry’s records strong third quarter sales.
3. Receivers fail to find a buyer for Pumpkin Patch and stores expected to close.
4. Oroton downgrades its first half guidance.
5. Commonwealth Bank says in-store spending in December down 0.2%.
6. Vegemite returns to Australian ownership with Bega purchase.
7. NSW economy is Australia’s best performing.
8. Wesfarmers (Coles, K-Mart, Bunnings) overtakes Woolworths to become 21st largest retailer in the world.
9. McDonalds US comparable sales decrease in last quarter.
10. Ikea adds North Queensland to online shopping availability.

More On CBD Emergency

Now that there has been time to evaluate the events in Bourke St on Friday 21st January a number of organisations including The Queen Vic Market will be assessing their response and making recommendations for future action.

It should be noted that there was no official  government alert on that day although the escape of youths from Malmsbury detention facility in the week after,  did result in an official warning from the government. It would appear that lessons have been learnt at all levels.

There has been plenty of discussion around the market about the use of SMS’s to advise traders about emergencies, the use of bollards at key vehicle entry points during trading hours, and possibly even the permanent closure of Queen St. 

Traders are also asking themselves how they would respond to an emergency and particularly under what circumstances they would abandon their stall and stock, as well as what responsibilities they have to their employees.

More will come from this issue and it is likely that the soon to be formed Trader Representative Committee will have the question of emergency response high on their agenda.