Saturday 30 June 2012

Channel 7 Says Tough Times for QVM

One of the feature items on the Channel 7 News at 6 ‘o’clock tonight concerned tough times at the Queen Victoria Market. Following is a transcript of the news item.
 Promo to Channel 7 News: "Hello... Vic Market Traders struggling to make ends meet..."

 Intro to 7 News: “On tonight's News... how the iconic Victoria Market has been hit by hard times..."

 Channel 7 Report 30/6/2012 ......cont'd (click on article heading for rest of story)

Friday 29 June 2012

New Vision for QVM

     July 12th is the date for a special briefing on how the Melbourne City Council sees our future at QVM. Many traders have asked us what the briefing is about and unfortunately we don’t have any detail other than to say it will be a presentation to all traders by two senior MCC executives and questions will be invited at the conclusion.     
     The strategic planning process is an ongoing function at the Melbourne City Council and the QVM features highly. Projects like the recent tramstop works in Elizabeth St. at the bottom end of the market, and in Peel St. at the top end of the market, are all part of a long term strategy plan to keep improving QVM and, in those particular projects, improve the ways that customers are able to interact with us. The glass roof over J shed, the food court, and the solar panel installation were all part of strategy plans.

     Some things just don’t seem to get done. Improving the number of carparking spaces has been on the agenda for a long time without a solution being found. Maybe this will be addressed on July 12th. One thing is for sure - we will all be a little wiser about what the future holds for this market.

     All market traders are invited to attend the briefing on Thursday 12th July at the Victoria Room, Ibis Melbourne, 15-21 Therry St. at 3:30pm.

Trader’s Elections – The Background

    Traders will have received a notice from the Australian Electoral Commission concerning elections for the Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee (called the Traders Advisory Committee in office correspondence). What is it all about?     The election will invite traders to nominate candidates for the Trader’s Advisory Committee (TAC) which is a body set up by QVM broadly to communicate with traders . Meetings are held quarterly, although sometimes more frequently. They cover a broad range of issues including advertising and promotion, trading hours (particularly on public holidays), the impact of special events on stallholder access, and a general conduit for management/stallholder communications. These meetings DO NOT discuss rents or contractual issues relating to individual traders.
    It is fair to say that the TAC has lost its relevance in recent times. It has become a “tick the boxes” procedure for management and has had little relevance for real trader’s issues. In other words it has been a bit of a one-way communication tool for management. Our CEO, Jennifer Hibbs, has recognised this shortcoming and has indicated she wants a more meaningful exchange at meetings, particularly as we head into the consultation process for the long term strategic plan. This election process will give traders the opportunity to select who will represent them as the consultative process moves forward. ....cont'd (click on heading for full article and comments)

Friday 22 June 2012

Latest Retail News – 22/06/2012

Latest Retail News – 22/06/2012
1.       Reserve bank puts stopper on unreasonable credit card surcharges by retailers.
2.       Sydney police operation catches 72 retail thieves with $18,500worth of goods over 4 days.
3.       Mag Nation to close its flagship Auckland store as magazines become “luxury item”.
4.       Asia Pacific duty free and airport retailing outperformed Europe for the first time in 2012.
5.       Nokia sheds 10,000 jobs and closes plants as it battles to survive.
6.       ACCC investigates claims that Coles and Woolworths bully suppliers.
7.       Woolworths changes slogan to “Australia’s fresh food people” to enhance Australian sourcing.
8.       Ebay to give Tax Office details of sellers in undeclared income crack-down.
9.       Major international retailers suffer as 300 garment factories close in Bangla Desh due industrial action.
10.   ACCC launches hotline to handle complaints on carbon price hikes.
11.   CBA Business Sales Indicator up again in May giving best results for 2 years.
12.   Co-op Bookshop snaps up competitors, Melbourne University and SPP Medical and Legal Bookshops.
13.   Harvey Norman adds solar panels to its retail offering with major order on Westinghouse USA.
14.   Metcash, distributors to IGA and Franklins, set to take control of Mitre 10.
15.   Media and advertising company, APN, takes over online retailer Exclusive.
16.   British retailer, Tesco, exits Japanese market.
17.   Woolworths moves ahead with negotiations to sell Dick Smith Electronics.
18.   Myers share value hits record low.
19.   Billabong looks to raise $225m in share issue designed to retire debt.

Encouraging Response From New Facebook Option

Facebook have launched a new feature which invites users to click on a “Get Offer” button and initial responses for two of our traders look encouraging.

The idea is that you post a special offer on facebook. The button shows up on your customer’s newsfeed. Clicking on the button activates an email to the customer with details of your special promotion and an offer to present the email (printed or phone version) to your shop or stall to claim the deal. Facebook has introduced other customer-contact features in the past but this seems more user friendly than most.

QVM have started using this new feature in their Shop The Sheds promotion and House of Mojo and Happy Alpaca are two traders who have been trialled. A total of ten offers will be pushed out via the Facebook news feed over the coming weeks.  The last time we checked, House of Alpaca had received over 20 requests for emails and House of Mojo, over 50 requests.

The QVM features as one of Facebooks most social places in the world so this type of exposure is being posted in the right place.

Traders who would like to know more about the new feature can find details here - or take up the invitation to  participate in the market's Shop The Sheds programs. Details at the office.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Our heading is a quote from management guru Peter Drucker and relates to setting and achieving KPI's for business, but we have a problem at QVM.
We have this divide (some call it a chasm) between traders on one hand who, in simplistic terms, measure $ sales, and QVM management who measure rent returns. It is not quite as simple as that because QVM also have their own businesses (cooking schools, tours, and training) which are similar to our own businesses. The point is that the responsibility for marketing and attracting customers over the whole site lies predominantly with QVM. QVM have a responsibility for our trading environment generally. ....cont'd - click on heading for more.

What Has Nokia's Demise Got To Do With QVM?

Commentators around the globe are calling the end for Nokia as they again downsize their operation and head towards the dreaded cash runout scenario. Broadly, Nokia's decline has been blamed on their perception that they were a device manufacturer (phones) when in fact their lack of software cohesion brought them down. People were really buying the convenience of the whole communication activity – phone and software.
QVM is a bricks-n-mortar retailer that will need to embrace the new age consumerism that is fast becoming a reality. Nokia wasn't just a phone maker, it was a communication provider. QVM isn't just a physical group of shops and traders, it is a satisfier of consumer needs and the environment in which we offer those services is changing rapidly.

It is easy to question QVM efforts to embrace online marketing. Concepts like Shop The Sheds haven't exactly set the world on fire but online marketing is still a fledgling industry and a lot of testing and adjustment will be needed along the way. Results may not come quickly, but it is critical that a link is drawn between these programs and the financial results for traders so we know we are on the right track (or not).

Saturday 16 June 2012

Is It Time to Consider New Trading Times?

The Queen Victoria Market has been around for a long, long time and many of its traditional features have lasted well but our customers seem to be telling us that our trading times need revision.
We have all experienced that lull in the morning as we wait for customers to turn up. Over recent years customers seem to be coming to the market later and over the same period city shops have moved from 9:00am to 10:00am starts. QVM management have.....cont'd

Who Is Rob Adams?

One of the presenters at our traders briefing on 12th July (  is Rob Adams. Here is what the Victorian Government says about him on the Major Projects Website.

Professor Rob Adams AM, Director City Design, City of Melbourne.

Professor Rob Adams is one of the champions of urban design in Australia today, with more than 38 years experience as a practising designer in private enterprise and public service. During his career, Rob has been awarded a plethora of awards including an Order of Australia (AM) for services to urban design, town planning and architecture. As recently as 2008 he was named the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year.   cont'd.....

Retail News Shorts – 16/06/2012

LookSmart Looks to the Future

This mall-based alteration chain is looking to open a store a month as it cashes in on a new consumerism trend. Apparently savings conscious Australians are looking to update existing clothing as an alternative to buying new clothing. LookSmart franchises are adding embroidery and dry cleaning services to their range as they tap new markets.

Cashed Up Young Men Make Their Mark

Australian National Retailers Association CEO says retailers are reporting more action from young men 18-25, particularly in fashion and accessories. Apparently the stay-at-home generation don’t have the mortgage or rent woes of other groups and are willing to spend on tailored clothing and more upmarket goods.  cont'd.....

Friday 15 June 2012

Mass Meeting To Examine QVM Future

            The latest trader’s bulletin includes details of an upcoming briefing by two of the MCC’s senior executives – CEO, Kathy Alexander and Director of City Design Rob Adams.
All market traders are invited to attend the briefing on Thursday 12th July at the Victoria Room, Ibis Melbourne, 15-21 Therry St. at 3:30pm. This is all about a new vision for The Queen Victoria Market and will outline key findings from research undertaken last year.

            It has been a long time since all traders have been invited together in the one place and we look forward to this briefing with great anticipation. We particularly like the reference to discussion on plans to secure the Market’s future. We also note from an adjoining article in the same trader’s bulletin a reference to “consultation for the long term strategic plan”.

Consultation and discussion can have many levels of involvement. At the worst they are information sessions – at best they mean true participation and influence by all stakeholders. Let’s hope this one is the real deal.  cont'd

Should We Trade On Australia Day 2013

   The latest Traders Bulletin has asked for feedback on proposed trading hours for Australia Day 2013. Australia Day in 2013 falls on Saturday 26th January.   
   In 2012, QVM management asked if we wanted to trade on Australia Day and the response from your trader representatives was a resounding yes. It is fair to say that our decision didn’t meet with universal approval from traders with a small but vocal group questioning our allegiance to Australia’s heritage and another group claiming that Australia day was one of the few days that traders could enjoy with their families.
   Your trader’s representatives have a view that the market should trade on any normal trading day that Victorian laws allow. Basically we disapprove of the recent trend by management to close the market on public holidays and we reject any suggestion that the market should close just because other areas (food) choose to close. We won’t get into all the pros and cons right now because we want you to have a say first.
   We would like to be sure we are speaking for all traders when considering whether we open or close on Australia Day 2013 so please enter your comments below.

New Trends By Myer & David Jones

With end-of-year sales underway our two major department stores are using new methods to achieve their sales.

       1. Myer is reducing its year-round discounting partly because of customer resistance and partly to help differentiate their key sales periods like end-of-year. David Jones has also reduced the length and breadth of their sales campaigns.
2. Both Myer and DJ’s have enhanced their loyalty card programs with thinks like first bite on special deals, “Make My Day” deals, and gift vouchers.
3. DJ’s are using social media to push its sales through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, plus heavy online advertising.
4. Myer offer “Make My Day” and “Daily Deal” throughout sales campaigns to “keep things fresh.” DJ’s doesn’t offer daily deals but has shortened its sales period from last year.

The New Wave of Online Retailing is Here

Have you caught the latest TV ad by The Iconic? It is a trendy, cutting edge advertisement for clothing that boasts 500 brands, 15,000 products, overnight shipping, 100 days free return.
The uncanny thing about this ad is that it now looks mainstream even though The Iconic only sells online. More and more advertising for online retailers is appearing and there is an outstanding feature developing – full price!!!!   Yes, online discounters are still there but the “new wave” is replacing discounts with exceptional levels of service. They offer reasonable prices, speedy delivery (The Iconic offers 3 hours delivery in Sydney), free returns for any reason, and recognised brand names.  cont'd

Were Are Not The Only Ones Concerned About Rents.

The Australian Retailers Association recently held a conference concerning the imbalance between landlords and tenants in rent negotiations. ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said the main theme coming out of the discussion was around the pressure retailers in shopping centres faced from rental costs, which were not determined based on real market valuations, retail turnover or current economic conditions.

“Reforms such as a code of conduct and third party reporting of turnovers would go some way towards making the process fairer and more transparent, as well as ensure retailers are able to balance the cost of doing business with keeping their doors open,” he said.  cont'd

Are You Pivoting Yet?

Pivoting is the latest buzzword in entrepreneurial circles around the world and basically it is a strategy for dealing with these difficult times.
Pivoting is changing direction with one foot firmly planted. The idea is that you don't lose sight of your basic business objectives but you are prepared to pivot in order to examine new opportunities that may lead to more success. So a pivot is a natural extension of your business not a completely new venture.

An example might be a clothing manufacturer/retailer who sets up a party plan operation or on a more general level a trader who launches an online presence as an adjunct to their market stall.

Pivoting is about stepping out of your comfort zone, and trying new directions without abandoning your basic business model.

Monday 11 June 2012

Webcam Marketing at QVM

We like the idea from one of our traders that a live webcam video be streamed from his stall to his website so that customers could view his stall live.
Imagine being able to show special products live and even holding conversations with customers as you go. We are guessing that you would need a video camera linked to a laptop, linked via a mobile broadband service to your website. Now, our trader doesn’t have the technological know-how to introduce such a system but we have at least two electronics stalls in the market who probably do. Plus we have a number of traders who we affectionately call techno-heads who could also help. Any input would be appreciated.

Sunday 10 June 2012

November Rent Review

We recently posted news of retail rents being reduced in Australian Shopping Malls and we think it is time to examine the rent situation in the top end of the Queen Victoria Market.
Traders were surprised when QVM Management increased rents by around 3.8% last November, not so much because of the level of increase, but because trading conditions did not support any increase. Declining (real*) customer numbers and declining sales added to a long list of adverse economic conditions as traders struggled to achieve even minimal sales targets.
Let’s not beat around the bush on this issue.....cont'd

Latest Retail News – 9/6/2012

Latest Retail News – 9/6/2012

1.       Reserve Banks cuts official interest rates by 25 basis points (0.25%).
2.       Australia’s economic growth figure (GDP) more than double expectations.
3.       Nike to divest Cole Haan and Umbro brands from their range.
4.       Hays Salary Guide predicts moderate increases for retail professionals this year.
5.       Retailers warn Fair Work Minimum Wage increase will cost jobs.
6.       Athletes Foot online store opens.
7.       Activewear retailer, Lorna Jane, updates website as it pushes into US market.
8.       Masters follows up bricks-n-mortar openings with 10,000 hardware products online.
9.       Ebay opens Melbourne office as it promotes Geotribes, a new online advertising medium.
10.   ANRA reports increased sales to stay-at-home cashed-up young men in clothing and fragrances.

Friday 8 June 2012

Tourist Buses

Market legend has it that a past CEO of QVM used to pay cash fees to bus drivers who brought their passengers to our market. Things have changed a lot in recent years and in answer to many trader queries here is an update.
For starters, we now have a lot more competition for bus passengers with organised shopping and tourist tours offering a range of destinations and enticements to customers.  

In the past, QVM would offer to assist regional tour operators with their local advertising if they brought their passengers to QVM. The market would then do a meet-n-greet with passengers on arrival and present them with shopping vouchers or special deal coupons. The Market continues to offer a meet and greet service for organised tours to the Market.   ...cont'd

No Booming Economy at QVM...or any other retail centre we have come across.

The news that Australia’s GDP has increased at double the expected rate is good news indeed. It will continue to strengthen the view that Australia’s economy is sound and has the potential to improve consumer confidence.
But here is the anomaly. It just doesn’t make sense to all the struggling businesses out there, particularly retailers. And it is not just small businesses. Look at all the high profile profit warnings and even collapses in recent months from big business.
A closer look at this week’s figures reveals some interesting variations.

1.       Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory are roaring along while Victoria and NSW are whimpering.  cont'd

Thursday 7 June 2012

Newsflash: Australia’s Economic Growth Surges

Today’s economic growth results (Wednesday 6th June) for the 3 months to March have more than doubled expectations and represent the strongest growth figures in many years.

The GDP figures, compiled by the Bureau of Statistics, showed a 1.3% increase on the back of strong growth in private investment and consumer spending. One commentator suggested the figures question the poor consumer confidence rhetoric and suggest that consumers are spending more, just not with Myer and David Jones.

Are You IPV6 Compliant?

IP addresses are like telephone numbers for computers. Every computer has one.
The huge growth in internet access means the world is running out of numbers so IPV6 will add a few trillion more. What are the implications for you and me. It sounds complicated, and I was getting a bit worried, until I read a tech guru's comment that cabbage prices in Shanghai are more likely to impact on our businesses than IPV6. Phew!

Apparently, as internet service providers change over, you may need to review your modem hardware, but that is years down the track.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Retail News Shorts – 3/6/2012

These are items that require a little bit more detail than given in our “Latest News” posts.

Myer and David Jones Get Serious About Online.

Both Myer & David Jones are spending much time and money to get their online offerings competitive but experts are saying three things need their attention.

1.Firstly, they need to add “experience” information to their product offering. A good example of this is QVM’s recipe and cooking information that goes with their food promotion.

2.Secondly they have plenty of ground to catch up with overseas online retailers getting a head start.

3. They still have to get shipping right. Free shipping and free returns for unwanted items is still a big plus for many online retailers.

Australia’s International Standing Drops

                Australia has slipped to 15th in a list of best countries to do business in and the high dollar is the main reason; although a skills shortage and a large number of industries going through negative structural changes are also relevant.

                Industries like tourism and trade are particularly vulnerable to dollar changes. In addition, the two speed economy is impacting on consumer confidence and in turn the overall business climate.

Targets Answer to Retail Recovery

                Target’s new Managing Director has announced plans to strip out middlemen, create direct sourcing with factories, and establish central distribution points throughout Asia. Commentators applaud the new direction while pointing out that retailers like Zara have been doing the same thing for years.

Retail Growth Outlook Slows to Zero

                A sombre Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association has announced that retail growth is likely to slow to zero following the slight fall in April sales, seasonally adjusted. The largest contributor to the fall was household goods and the state with the largest fall was Victoria.

David Jones Says Consumer Caution to Stay

                David Jones Chief Executive Paul Zahra says consumers remain gloomy despite the steadying of the Eurozone debt problem. He says that consumers are not reacting to the international shocks in the same way as in the past. Their reluctance to spend has become the new norm and is unlikely to change.

Latest Retail News – 2/6/2012

Latest Retail News – 2/6/2012

1.       60 Australian Games stores close.

2.       TV still the most influential advertising although online catching up.

3.       The Australian Retailers Association, PayPal and eBay have signed a partnership to reflect retail landscape's shift towards digital retailing.

4.       NAB reports that vast majority of online spending is with local sites.

5.       PayPal introduces store payments into US bricks’n’mortar retailers.

6.       Australians about half as likely to use apps or smartphones for online purchasing as their UK counterparts.

7.       American Apparel launches Myer in-store presence in Melbourne and Sydney as it fights back from trading difficulties.

8.       Spanish retail sales drop 9.8% year on year in April.

9.       Australia’s year on year retail sales up 3% in April but trend weakening.

10.   David Jones report April quarter sales down about 3%.

11.   Australia’s lowest paid workers awarded $17.10 per week increase.

12.   18,000 NSW Retail Workers fight against plans to open on Boxing Day.

13.   RBA urges banks to introduce real time funds transfers across their networks.

Friday 1 June 2012

Tenants Force Malls to Cut Rents

The Age reported on Thursday that major Australian retail centre owners, Westfield, Stockland and GPT have been forced to reduce rents for new tenants and are under ongoing pressure from current leaseholders to reduce the rent burden.
Myer has said it will cut as many as 25%  of its stores if rents are not reduced during new lease negotiations. Melbourne and Sydney shop rents are amongst the highest in the world as international brands flock to Australia and our economy seems to suggest we have avoided the worst of the international recession.

However, pressure continues to mount on landlords with reports that Stockland, Australia’s biggest diversified property trust cut rents by an average of 10% as they replaced tenants who had gone into administration with new retailers. CBRE report that rents in Sydney’s medium size malls fell for the first time since 1999.

The trend towards reduced consumer spending is expected to continue as Australians continue to save at more than double the rate of their US counterparts.

02/06/2012 12:32:39 Let's see they're demanding reduced rents whilst stating that their sales have dropped 1.8%. Hmmm, what should we be demanding then?                   

40K Speed Zone Around QVM

The Lord Mayor has announced plans for a standard 40kmh speed zone around the Hoddle grid (Melbourne's CBD) and the Queen Victoria Market.
The aim is to reduce confusion from variable speed zones, provide a measure of protection for pedestrians and cyclists while keeping traffic flowing.

$355,000 has been set aside for new signage and is currently waiting on Vicroads approval.

Traders Experience Sales Surge From Rugby Match

Traders will be aware that a number of stallholders report sales data on a weekly basis so that we can track significant trends. Our online sales data collection has recorded a significant boost for last Thursday’s (24th) market sales.
 The previous evening’s State of Origin Match at Etihad Stadium drew large numbers of NSW and particularly Queensland fans to Melbourne and they apparently put the top end of the QVM on their visiting list the following day.
Traders sales on Thursday 24th May more than doubled recent Thursday sales and confirmed once again just how important tourists are to our survival. We simply must find ways of maximising tourist attendance at our market.