Sunday 26 February 2012

Latest Retail News – 25/02/2012

Latest Retail News – 25/02/2012
1.       Pacific Brands (Bonds etc.) post $362 million loss.
2.       US carmaker General Motors reports record $7.1 billion profit after coming out of bankruptcy.
3.       Luxottica plans 100 store closures in Budget Eyewear and Just Specs as it concentrates on OPSM brand in Australia.
4.       Biscuit maker, Unibic, seeks white knight as creditors close in.
5.       Specialty Fashion Group (Katies, Millers) report 62% drop in first half profit.
6.       Woolworth’s trials electronic shopping wall at Sydney railway station.
7.       Coles and Woolworths make top 21 list of retailers worldwide, the only Australian companies in the top 250.
8.       Bag retailer, Crumpler’s, wins international award for store design at its Doncaster flagship.
9.       Commsec advise debit and credit card usage increased again in January.
10.   Fantastic Furniture sales up 3.2% and profit up 35% in first half.
11.   Increased margins give Athletes Foot record profit (up 5.8%) despite lower sales.
12.   Flight Centre profit up 15.7% as Australians travel.
13.   Super Retail Group post 40% increase in first half profit.
14.   World’s largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot, reports 32% net income increase in 4th quarter.
15.   Neilson survey shows Australia tops consumer confidence ahead of Norway and Canada.
16.   Google/MYOB report 30,000 free websites established for Australian businesses over last 12months.
17.   Wotif profit up 14% as it expands into flight bookings.
18.   ACCC warns it will protect new online stores from unfair competition by larger entities.

Market Interview - Benny

Name? Benny
Born ? Melbourne
What do you do/sell at the market? Jeans
How long have you been at the market? Since 1972
What do you like best about the market? -  No walls.
Worst moment?  Quiet days and hot weather.
Past jobs? None
Sporting interests? AFL. I play indoor soccer.
One thing nobody knows about you? I am studying the Torah ( Jewish old testament ).
Favourite food? Hot dog with sauce.
Favourite drink?  Gforce - a sports drink.
Favourite TV show? - House
Favourite music?  Gorman Gregorovich and his funeral band ??? Gypsy music.
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? Play soccer
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world, where would you go.? Israel
Do you have any share market tips for us?  HRS Hastings

Thanks Benny

Interviewd by Tony

Model Traders Hit The Bigtime

Two of our traders rubbed shoulders with the fashion modelling elite with an appearance in the glossy fashion insert in last Tuesday’s Herald-Sun. We might be a bit biased but we think Alan and John fitted in very nicely with the likes of Miranda Kerr et al.
It would be hard to find two friendlier traders and we think that comes across in the photos.

Friday 24 February 2012

What Looks Worse Than An Empty Stall?

Answer: A stall that is made into a carpark.

Warning - Thieves Targetting Traders.

Trader Mino emailed us today with news of another theft of a trader's bag. Please make sure your personal belongings are secure.

"Another bag was stolen today.

The indian girl in RK selling sun glasses.
Tall guy, curly hair, dark skin, Pacific islander, 30-40 year old.
Safety vest ( which was taken off after finish job to mislead security).
He had woman with him, medium size, straight hair, mini skirt (denim).
She paid for sunnies , he pinch bag behind. Whole operation took less than 2 minutes.
But they observed for half an hour.

This time security was quick less than 10 minutes.
This is an epidemic.

JLP Melbourne TM
Melbourne Australia"

Thursday 23 February 2012

Queen Victoria Market Rates Highly On Facebook

A recent report identifies QVM as having a significant facebook engagement rate.
Engagement rates are a simple equation of the number “talking about this” divided by the number of fans. David Jones has an engagement rate of 18.7%, Air New Zealand – Australia 27.4%, and Woolworths gets 25.9%. QVM received a special mention at 20.5%.
‘People talking about this’ is defined by Facebook as the number of unique people who have created a story about a page in the past week, by liking the page or one of its posts, posting on its wall, answering a question, responding to an event, mentioning the page, tagging the page in a photo or checkin, or recommending the page or place.
Good to see the QVM is succeeding in social network participation.

Billboard Shopping

A few months ago we reported the Tesco test in a Korean subway where shoppers could scan products on a wall and have them home delivered. Well, now it is in Australia.
Woolworths have launched a shopping wall at a Sydney railway station where they showcase over 120 of their most popular products. Customers download a custom mobile phone app, choose the products they want by scanning codes on the wall, pay online, and receive delivery at home. Now Sportsgirl have joined the trend by launching a shopping wall at their Chapel St. store which gives customers 24hr access to their online range.
Both retailers intend rolling out these shopping walls in other locations as they cater to customer demands for more flexibility in shopping.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Retail Recovery – The Key Points So Far

Retail Recovery – The Key Points So Far
1.       Stop waiting for things to improve – they are simply not going to improve unless you take specific action.
2.       Margin is king. There has been so much emphasis on cheaper retail prices that reduced margins are killing us. Agressively seek products that give margin flexibility and abandon those that don’t.
3.       Screw down your suppliers. There is significant evidence that overseas suppliers have been selling to Australia at higher prices for no good reason.
4.       Negotiate good rent deals. Landlords expect it and have allowed for reduced income.
5.       Give your customers an online option. Put simply, customers now want more flexible ways of deciding what they purchase rather than just walking the malls or the market aisles. The QVM has a website - you should be on it. Google/MYOB are offering free websites for business. -
6.       If you can’t see your way clear to having a web presence, make yourself more available in other ways, like with mobile phones.
7.       Allow for smarter customers. The worldwide retail market is much more transparent and customers now have access to inside information.

Unfair Dismissal Laws Should Also Apply to Small Business

The ACTU is pushing to have unfair dismal laws apply to all businesses.
At present businesses with fewer than 15 employees are excluded from some of the more onerous and expensive provisions and follow a simpler Small Business Fair Dismissal Code which the ACTU wants abolished.
Business leaders claim the unfair dismissal provisions of the Fair Work Act are holding back productivity and place unreasonable restrictions on employment flexibility.

Melbourne In Top 10 Most Expensive Cities

A recent worldwide study found that Sydney is the world’s seventh most expensive city and Melbourne the eighth.
Melbourne and Sydney are now supposed to be 50% dearer to live in than New York but like all studies we need to be careful about what conclusions we draw from the data. The figures are largely influenced by the dramatic rise in the Australian dollar because the base currency for the data is the US dollar. So, people in other countries would notice the difference when they come to Australia (not great for international tourism at QVM) but for us the change is hardly noticeable. Australia’s underlying rate of inflation remains at a manageable 2.5%.
By coincidence, your editor received a comment from a US tourist last weekend that she was very happy with her holiday in Australia but was amazed by how expensive our fruit and vegetables were at the market compared with back home. Can’t say I have ever heard that complaint before.

New Product Idea – Toys

Another new product to gain attention from the retail trade is this range of children’s toys that use their packaging to form part of the toy.
Tube Toys ship in cardboard tubes that become the vehicles bodies so all that is thrown away is the outer paper sleeve. The toy comes in four different versions – tractor, car, train and firetruck and are expected to retail for US$16.

New Product Idea – Cookware

In order to keep traders up to date with the latest in retail news we subscribe to a number of business news sources and every now and then new products are highlighted because they are significant or have won awards at trade shows either in Australia or overseas.
One such product is this collapsing beater which saves on the drawer space normally taken up by such implements. Inspired by a bunch of straws, the beater is still in development stage but will be on the market soon from Normann Copenhagen.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Latest Retail News – 18/02/2012

Latest Retail News – 18/02/2012
1.       Australian cities now rank in the top 20 most expensive places to live.
2.       Westfield announce 38% profit jump on back of record no. of retail leases.
3.       JB HiFi reports 9.4% profit drop for first half.
4.       Furniture retailer Nick Scali reports sales up 9% but profit down 10%.
5.       Sleep City with, 64 Australian stores, placed in administration.
6.       JB HiFi to start selling electronic musical instruments in 2012.
7.       NAB survey reports retail prices continue to slide due competition.
8.       Reject Shop report 4% rise in first half profit.
9.       Noni B reports more than 50% rise in first half profit after reining in costs.
10.   Domino’s Pizza enjoy 23% first half profit rise on back of successful new product launches.
11.   Jeweller Michael Hill reports 11% increase in 1st half profit largely from US/Canada operations.
12.   Billabong looks to close up to 150 stores worldwide as it restructures.
13.   Wesfarmers (Coles, Target etc.) report almost flat first half performance.

Got a Problem? – Write a Letter!

Trader representatives often receive complaints from frustrated traders who don’t realise that their issues can sometimes be easily resolved by a simple letter.
There are many issues about trading at The Queen Victoria Market that can cause us angst. Sometimes they are very small issues. Often we will talk about these issues with other traders, sometimes with market inspectors, and the longer they go on the more frustrating they become. Sometimes we feel that nobody is listening to us and that raising the issue again will just be a waste of time when, in fact, we just haven’t gone about the complaint process in the best way.
Here is the method that will give you the best chance of success. Write a letter addressed to – The Manager, The Queen Victoria Market, 513 Elizabeth St. Melbourne 3000. Identify yourself, explain briefly what your problem is and, if appropriate, offer a solution. You will get a response.
If your problem continues, or somewhere down the track starts again, write another letter. Your complaint now becomes a matter of record and good management requires that it is dealt with. If you don’t get a response or you think the response is manifestly unfair, talk to a trader representative or trader volunteer.
In the end, you may not get the result you were looking for but you will be able to move on with the knowledge that you have done all you can to achieve the best result possible.

Friday 17 February 2012

Where Are Security When You Need Them?

Security is a big issue at the QVM for both customers and traders. Longer term traders will remember the bad old days when thefts from traders, particularly at the beginning and at the end of the day, were a real problem, and things have improved, or have they?
We are specifically talking about theft of trader’s wallets or purses, so we are talking theft of personal money, credit cards and possibly takings. A trader has reported a recent incident (close of business Friday 10th February) when a thief was seen emptying two bags or wallets in the 20-30 minutes it took security staff to respond to his telephone call for help. At least one of those bags involved the loss of a trader’s wallet, passport, and takings.
Your editor has also experienced apparent lack of interest from security staff around the time of the close of business. Maybe this is when a shift change takes place. Unfortunately it is also a prime time for thieves to target traders. Traders must accept responsibility for their own basic security but when professional thieves are in action we need professional security right up until we leave the market.
Let us know your experiences.

Following is our traders email:

Suspicious behaviour of one visitor on last Friday result with my call to the office to send security.
He visit my stall,uninterested touching few bags, and steering  on me or my wife.
He was looking for opportunity only.
He has only one jacket in the hand( to hide what he steal.

He's gone down towards Queen street through RK- RL shed.
Five minutes late he was back with something under jacket and he sat on tables in M shed.
As I was busy with customer I did not see what he was doing.
I was aware of him when my wife told me " look at this Idiot, he's peeing on our box.
That was the same man from the shop before .
I confronted him in hope of security being there soon.

Tall, app. 180-185 cm, black curly hair, black medium beard, Mediterranean, European appearance. Aussie accent.
Short 3/4 pants, colourful tattoo on legs.
He again disappeared towards Queen street, this time through M shed.
He left the scene with a black backpack.
He left one purse, I checked inside, but there was nothing expect two "libra".
 I went back to my stall hoping security would be there soon.
10 minutes later, he came back walking from nowhere. As I did not take my eyes of him he just passed by through the Gooci stall in L shed.
5 minutes later I saw him in M shed doing the same exercise as before: cleaning someones bag and wallet.
( as we discovered later that was a bag from a shop assistant which was stoled through L shed, with her passport, cards and some cash in the wallet , plus her making from this day)
As I did not know this at that moment, I tried to confront him again, but this time he ran faster and faster down to the Deli section where I lost him.
I rang the office again I tried to tell them my position where i was, but they explained to me how security was waiting for me at my stall!
Well disappointed I was back at my stall and there was no security.
I called the office again to call the security back and to tell them about this man and to give them a description.
They came back and in the middle of the conversation a girl came from the T shirt stall and said,; I can't find my bag, someone stole my bag! 
Response from security was more than pathetic: you shouldn't leave it there!

Sorry for this long story.
Point is:
  • what  happened between my first call for help until security appeared? Two thieves and one chasing? 
  • How quick was the response of Security? 20-30 minutes?
After this experience I will think twice before I call Security:
I lost a few customers and I was late with my packing.
Maybe a poll about Security effectiveness would be better than a coffee poll...

My Question is:
  • What if we have our own record of how many thieves  visit our shops?
  • What if we have a number from where we can report a thief and this message can be distributed as a warning by SMS to all the stall holders within seconds? With description?

Let's talk.

JLP Melbourne TM
Melbourne Australia

Rent Rebellion

Fascinating string of articles in Inside Retailing this month which started with a Retail Consultant claiming that landlords are responsible for the current retail malaise and proposing that retailers should join together in a class action type manoeuvre to demand a 33% rent reduction.
Subsequent articles took the blame away from landlords and back on to retailers. The arguments are fascinating (and mind boggling) so rather than try to analyse them we are going to take the easy way out and invite you to have a read. Don’t forget to read the comments as well – they are equally good reading.
And don’t forget to let us have your thoughts.

Price Competition From Centres

Okay, The Glen in Glen Waverley is not actually a cutting edge shopping centre but it does have a David Jones anchor and it typifies the middle of the road Melbourne shopping centre.
Two very competitive offerings caught my eye.
1.       Firstly, the shoe repair shop with its carousel of 100’s of leather (?) belts at just $10 each. I know, we have been selling $10 belts at the QVM for years but traditional retailers have always been trying to get around $30 for such belts. It looks like they might have caught up.
2.       A sun glasses kiosk with a large range of men’s, women’s, and children’s sun glasses for $12 and their top-of-the-range polarised fashion glasses (again a large range) at just $20. I don’t pretend to fully understand the sun glasses market but these seemed very competitive.
Both outlets were merchandised without great fanfare. In other words this wasn’t marketed as a one off special sale, just business as normal.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Latest Retail News – 12/02/2012

1.       Games Group likely to sell its 115 Australian stores in debt re-structure.
2.       Failed health and beauty product retailer, Healthzone, has been sold to Singaporean Co.
3.       Hong Kong based Esprit clothing chain decides to close all US stores.
4.       Retail Sales for December rose just 3% over 2010.
5.       UK supermarket, Tesco, dumps its carbon reduction plan.
6.       Australian meat pie retailer, Pie Face, opens its 1st US store on Broadway.
7.       Macquarie Equities report specialty retailers prospering over department stores.
8.       Online giant Amazon plans its own bricks & mortar store.
9.       Webjet reports half year profit up 17%.
10.   Telstra signs up more than 1 million new customers in 6 months to December 31st.

J.C.Penney’s New Pricing Philosophy

Penney’s are a mid range US department store and their new CEO has introduced a pricing philosophy that does away with the old WAS/IS pricing regime.
Rather than marking up and then marking down, Penney’s are saying “Let’s stop treating our customer’s like fools”. It’s nonsense to pretend the right price for an item is $20 when it is going to sell on sale for $10.
Customers are shown the best price and allowed to make up their own mind whether it is good value.

Why Retail Rents Must Come Down

1. The old model for retailers was to obtain a substantial bank loan, often backed up by home ownership, which enabled expenditure on things like elaborate shop fittings, container loads of stock direct from overseas suppliers, and a cash flow able to handle seasonal sales variations. Banks no longer see the value in retail enterprises and have toughened up lending rules. In short, retailing is not the cash cow it used to be and high cost items like rent are no longer sustainable.
                2. Online trading is becoming more significant and retailers are increasingly reliant on sales outside the traditional bricks & mortar stores. Predictions for Australia include 30% of retail sales coming from online. If you are getting more of your sales outside the physical store, why should you pay so much rent for that store?
                3. Consumers have become scrooges. Spending is at an all time low as consumers reassess their needs and buying patterns. The combination of lower spending and increased competition (with lower margins) means that there is strong pressure on reducing costs.
                4. Customer traffic numbers are declining as consumers find alternatives to “walking the malls”. The prime role of shopping centre managers is to get customers past the retailer’s door. If those numbers are declining, surely rents must decline as well.
The challenges for retailer going forward are immense and the cost of adjusting to the new conditions must be shared by all including landlords.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Latest Retail News – 4/2/2012

1.       All Fletcher Jones stock will be sold off as administrators work through windup.
2.       Starbucks profit grows 10% on the back of new store openings.
3.       Lend Lease launches iPhone app to guide customers around their shopping centres.
4.       Coles and Woolworths launch price discounting on fruit and vegetables.
5.       ARA calls for more interest rate cuts to stimulate consumer buying.
6.       Woolworths say electronics better sold through Big W as they plan to divest Dick Smith’s.
7.       Australia’s Breville Group reports earnings growth on back of significant improvement in North America market.
8.       Barbie Dolls help push Mattel’s fourth quarter income up 14%.
9.       Despite all the spin, Coles and Woolworths maintain similar sales growth (around 4%).
10.   Poor sales performance for Target (down 2.5% in the 6 months to December) and K-Mart (down 1.4%).
11.   Ritchies buys 9 Franklins stores.
12.   Christco Hampers fined $175,000  for  overcharging customers on layby cancellations.

Traders Sales Results Analysed

Traders representatives have been collecting sales data from volunteer traders over the last two months and results have now been compiled.
Traders were asked to compare their sales on each trading day with a sales budget and the results have been correlated into graphs and charts for a number of categories in the market including –
1.       Jewellery
2.       Arts/Crafts
3.       Gifts
4.       Clothing
5.       Clothing Accessories
6.       Souvenirs – General
7.       Souvenirs – Specialised
Sales have been further categorised to show midweek and weekend sales trends. Participating traders have been progressively receiving feedback and as we progress with the data we will attempt to draw links between sales and various other factors including –
1.       QVM events.
2.       Marketing programs.
3.       City of Melbourne events.
4.       Concerts
5.       Sporting events
6.       Other public activities.
Traders who would like to participate in this information sharing are invited to email us ( or contact Ivano or your trader representative.

Market Interview - Bob

Name? Bob
Born? Melbourne
What do you do/sell at the market?  Hats and gloves.
How long have you been at the market?  29 years - started in 1983.
What do you like best about the market?  Variety of customers - even the silly ones make me laugh.
Worst moment?  Thieves and strong winds.
Past jobs? Fire brigade.
Sporting interests?  I play ten pin bowling
One thing nobody knows about you? I'm a Martian.
Favourite food? Thai.
Favourite drink? Jim Beam
Favourite TV show/ movie? Ghost (soft) or Forever Young (even softer).
Favourite music?  Cher, Abba, (any from this century??)
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? Drive to Yarra valley to wineries for a meal.
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world where would you go? Back to Hawaii for a cruise

Thanks Bob

Interviewed by Tony