Sunday 25 October 2015

Latest Retail News – 25/10/2015

Latest Retail News – 25/10/2015
1. Kmart’s online customer details hacked.
2. Good Guys opens 100th milestone store.
3. PAS Group (Metalicus, Review) rejects takeover offer.
4. David Jones, H&M, and Uniqlo to be part of new Eastland Shopping Centre.
5. Customer’s details hacked at DJ’s.
6. US retailer, American Apparel, files for bankruptcy.
7. Target partners with British fashion house, New Look, online.
8. After a decline in July, August online sales increase by 0.6% according to NAB.
9. Target launches new smartphone app.
10. Coca-Cola, Arnotts, Kleenex, Ikea and Samsung all feature in Choice Magazine’s Shonky Awards for 2015.
11. Lindt to open new factory outlet in Sydney.
12. Harvey Norman to launch Singaporean flagship store.
13. Sydney Fish Market launches new shelf-life app for its seafood.
14. Dominos buys French pizza chain.
15. Reject Shop comparable sales up for September quarter.
16. Walmart issues profit downgrade.
17. Dominos launches Smart watch SMS ordering facility.
18. Adam Goodes becomes DJ’s brand ambassador.
19. Italian footwear brand, Superga, to open first Australian presence within Topshop, Chapel St.
20. Costco tipped to be next threat to Coles and Woolworths.
21. Kogan partners with Vodafone while Coles launches prepaid Optus deal.
22. Bath & Body Works opens first Australian store at Sydney airport.
23. Former CEO, Paul Zahra, says David Jones un-prepared for online transition.
24. Woolworths to sell 6 shopping centres.

What If QVM Was A Sport Like AFL?

The imperatives that drive the QVM Board and management team are under scrutiny as we face the appointment of a new CEO at Australia’s premier public market and the question needs to be asked – “What are they managing?”

A trader recently asked the question - If this was a sport, say Australian Rules Football, would we regard ourselves as just the ground managers, or would we take wider responsibility for the health of the football competition?

The underlying function of a public market is its retail sales function. Our market has social and community roles but it is primarily in existence for the exchange of goods and services for money. Traders have often criticised the focus by QVM (the company) as a property manager. The real question is - what needs to be managed at the market so as to ensure the market truly becomes a “world class market precinct… forever”? (which is the language linked to the Renewal). Is it the activity at the market or is it the infrastructure that houses the market?

Back in 2013, QVM were looking for a new CEO. Fortunately we had Jan Cochrane-Harry already on our doorstep, but that is another story. The advertisement at the time said – “Candidates will preferably have a business background in property, infrastructure, major events or the like...” Note that there was no mention of retail experience. So, getting back to the football comparison, would we be happy with an applicant who prioritised the ground resources, the watering and cutting of the grass, making sure the stadiums were clean and safe etc. (the property) but didn’t have experience and interest in the performance of the teams, the game scores, the player and team stats and health, match attendances, the interest of fans, and the myriad of other factors that make up a healthy competition. 

Now, we know it is dangerous territory to argue using analogies. The point is that the level of understanding of the grass-roots game, in our case retailing ( and in particular how a market fits into the retails environment ), doesn’t seem to have been a high priority at QVM and, in a time of retail recession and market renewal, do the QVM Board and the City of Melbourne need to change that? How far are they to be “ground keepers” and how far are they to be "makers of a world class retail market”?

QVM Master Plan Re-visited

Each week our email to traders includes a quote and last week’s quote has special relevance to the QVM Master Plan.

"To solve a problem or to reach a goal, you don't need to know all the answers in advance. But you must have a clear idea of the problem or the goal you want to reach." – W. Clement Stone.

It is easy to be mystified at the terminology of a Master Plan. A lot of hard work and consultation has gone into the QVM Master Plan and yet essentially it doesn’t contain a lot of plans. It refers to intent, and the detail will be teased out as projects get underway.

Traders are often asked to give their views on renewal which is difficult when we don’t know any detail. What we should be asked is - What is our view of the intent of the Master Plan? Do we think it is guiding us in the right direction? Like Stone says, we don’t need to know all the answers in advance. We do need a clear idea of the problem or the goal we want to reach.  That information is all contained in the Master Plan which was finally approved by Council back in July 2015. It may be worthwhile to refresh your memory on the content by going here -

PS - W. Clement Stone was a business man and philanthropist. He started his business career by selling newspapers in restaurants at a time when everyone else was selling them on street corners. He was known as an innovative thinker and converted his selling and communicating ability into a fortune.

Great New QVM Video

A series of videos have been commissioned by QVM with a focus on traders and their views on the market, its customers, and market life generally. The latest, "in two words", has been described as good enough to become the official QVM television advertisement.

"If you like people, this is the place"

The video is a stirring rendition of why our market is so special and features more than 30 traders. It is definitely worth a look. Go to

"This would be a great tv commercial, absolutely shows what the market stands for ... Family and heart... You don't have that in a shopping centre "- Drita McLennan

Have Your Say - click here.

Exploring Options For QVM Trader Involvement

One of the regular discussion topics at QVMAC meetings concerns the Governance Structures. Essentially these discussions are focussed on how to improve and better enable opportunities for traders to involved in both renewal and operational matters around the market. In other words how to give traders a voice, how to make use of their expertise, and how to feed those views into the system.

Much work has already been done with things like the 1 to 1 interviews, setting up of project groups, and sub-committees for special issues like car parking. These have proved to be productive and the QVMAC is keen to formalise a structure that will enable every trader to have input in to the many aspects of renewal and market operation that lay before us.

Traders may have specific issues that they wish to become involved in, and perhaps become a member of a sub-committee that considers and analyses those issues. They may wish to simply attend discussion groups and hear what is being said before deciding if they need to become more directly involved.

QVMAC Trader Representatives Stephen McLennan, Jenny Pyke, Ivano Guseli, Cathy Underhill, and Greg Smith will be sitting down with Projects Manager, Brendan Devine, over coming weeks to help set up those Governance Structures and prepare for the future of trader involvement in market activities. If you have any thoughts on how traders might be best engaged, now might be a good time to speak up.

Sunday 18 October 2015

High Tech Homewares At QVM

The wonders of modern technology are before us on a daily basis. Just reading this article on a screen, sometimes in the palm of your hand, is pretty amazing. 

A new business at QVM has introduced some special technology to their stall with a 3D printer creating some very artistic, eco-sustainable lamps. Apparently it is run by two young engineers and their website is worth a look (, or even better, search them out at the market.

Have Your Say - click here.

Caricature Mayhem At Stir Frydays

Offering free caricatures in support of the Specialty Merchandise marquee at Friday nights Stir Frydays street market proved very popular with customers as shown by the queue of eager participants.

The marquee is being manned by QVMAC Trader Representatives as part of a cross promotion with a food event and an opportunity to show off some of the specialty wares in the top end of QVM.

The atmosphere at the night market is great and traders may find a relaxed evening visit for some food and socialising is an enjoyable and educational experience.

Have Your Say - click here.

Retail News Briefs - Mind Reading And Other Things

Aldi Teams Up With Fashion Designer - Aldi is to release a limited edition range of children's clothing designed by Collette Dinnigan, priced from $11.99 to $29.95. Aldi said they were committed to using natural fabrics and combining their "stringent quality assurance and testing program" which "reflects Collette's principles of impeccable design detail and premium quality established over a 25 year career in fashion."

Marks & Spencer Cools Off  Australian Expansion - iconic British retailer, Marks & Spencer, was reported to be eyeing off a presence in Australia following the unsuccessful tryst with Just Jeans in 2011 but according to the Australian Financial Review they may have cooled on the idea.

Farmer's Markets Under Fire - in an interesting test case in South Australia, Salisbury Council is being challenged over development plans that allow a new farmer's market to set up. The legal argument against the market is based on the definition of shops. According to the market operator "someone very big in the grocery industry" might be involved.

Extended Trading On Boxing Day - the NSW Government may push for legislation to allow Boxing Day trading beyond the current designated areas of Sydney CBD and eastern suburbs.

New Technology Reads Customers Minds - Uniqlo is to trial neuroscience technology at its Sydney stores. Customers are asked to place wearable technology on their foreheads and then shown a series of still images and videos. An algorithm then helps select a T-shirt from their range. We assume that the technology could be used across a broad range of consumer needs.

Hugo Boss Cuts Sales Outlook - the iconic German fashion house has blamed the slowdown in China and "timid shoppers" in the USA for its disappointing 3rd quarter results.

Big Fans For Big Spaces

Our photograph is not the clearest but Lance Dyer tells us that these fans at  Rusty's Markets in  Cairns have made a huge difference to the heat under the roof. Thanks Lance.

Have Your say - click here.

QVMAC Trader Representative Invited To Market Conference

It might seem a small thing but an invitation for one of our Trader Representatives to attend a National Market Conference is seen as significant recognition.

The 2nd Annual National Markets’ Conference is being held in Sydney in November 2015. This meeting of major Australian retail and tourist Markets encourages the sharing of ideas, learning from industry experts and working together to ensure Market continue to strengthen and grow in the global retail landscape. David O’Neil is to be a guest speaker.

The conference is essentially for market owners, managers, and operators and not normally attended by trader representatives. The fact that QVM has offered an expenses paid opportunity for one of our QVMAC Trader Representatives to attend is most welcome and a positive sign for future trader/management relations. QVMAC Trader Representatives have been asked to nominate a delegate for the conference.

Trader’s Association Membership Drive

Traders will remember that after a long absence (The last association was wound up in 2004) a trader’s association was formed in 2013. QVM Trader’s Inc. was established with the purpose –
“To support market traders at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market as they maximise their business interests and potential. To encourage the development of the Queen Victoria Market as one of the world’s premier public retail markets through its service to local, regional, interstate, and international residents and visitors.”

Back in 2013 it was intended that the association be set up with a paid executive officer financed by a 1.25% levy on rents. For a number of reasons that arrangement did not go ahead and the Association has been in caretaker mode since, with 8 committee members meeting at irregular intervals.

The important work of trader/management liaison has largely been performed through the Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee (made up of elected Trader Representatives and QVM Management) and the various associated entities – 121 interviews, project teams, and sub-committees set up under Jan Cochrane-Harry's leadership.

A number of traders and QVMTI committee members believe that there is room for a rejuvenated Trader’s Association and have commenced a membership drive based on an annual subscription of $10. Traders may receive an approach to join the Association over coming days.

QVMAC - Notes From The Last Meeting

Draft minutes for the last QVMAC meeting have been prepared but may not be finalised until the next meeting so we have included below the list of Issues and Actions that have come from the meeting and some of our meeting notes to explain those issues plus other items under discussion.

Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee Meeting
Thursday 24 September 2015_________________________________________________________________

Invitation to City of Melbourne breakfast event, “Is your business digitally ready for the future?” on 23 October.  Approximately 100 delegates from other small businesses will be in attendance – Management would like suggestions for 5-10 QVM traders to attend

QVMAC members to consider and advise management of interested parties
Traders would like an update on the performance of Market Week activities

Management will provide Nunn Media report to QVMAC members when available
Stir Frydays - New Friday night offer will begin 9 October for an 8 week trial on Therry Street.  GM traders would like the opportunity to be involved with pop/up or showcase for cross promotion of day market

Management to liaise with traders in relation to options
Updates to the Draft Strategic Brief to be approved by the Board at October 2015 meeting and document then finalised
A marked up version of the document can be made available to traders
Trading Ideas sessions
Session on trading hours to be included in the program - calendar will be circulated to all traders.  Next session 9 November 2015.
QVMAC and Trader Governance Structures to be reviewed and updated
Management to work with QVMAC to convene a subcommittee and progress discussion paper
Traders would like car parking costs and free parking provision to be reviewed – suggest 2 hour free parking any time
Management has convened a subcommittee to investigate- first meeting held 1 October 2015
Meat and Fish Hall traders are unclear about process in relation to new leases
Management will issue a communication to relevant traders reconfirming steps
Traders would like more information in relation to plans for activation in A Shed
Management will provide a program of upcoming events/activation
Concerns over lighting levels in Dairy Hall
Management to follow up
Dairy Hall Letter of Comfort
The concept of the letter is agreed, the content is yet to be finalised. Subcommittee to be formed to discuss reasonable content from trader perspective.
507 Elizabeth Street Tenancy Status
Current lease expires February 2016.  Management will follow a commercial tender process to assess final proposals from shortlisted applicants
Queen Street Loading Areas
Market officers are now actively enforcing restrictions with infringement notices ($152 fine applies)

Item 2.4 Stir Frydays – we note that participation by GM Traders was actually activated on the first Friday of this event (9th October) and will continue for the 8 weeks.
Item 3.2 Trading Ideas Sessions – this refers to the Monday evening information and discussion session with a positive response expressed by traders on its first outing. The next session will be on 9th November with details to come.
Item 3.3 QVMAC and Trader Governance Structures – As reported elsewhere on, the role of the QVMAC has expanded significantly in recent times and this review will look at formalising its role so as to have greater relevance to the renewal process.
Item 3.4 Car Parking – this item refers to the cost of car parking and particularly a free parking period for shoppers. A sub-committee meeting on 1st October has been described as “most productive” and we are waiting on a full report.
Item 4.1 Meat and Fish Hall Leases – a number of shop leases have fallen due at the same time and some traders are unsure of the process from here. Management will communicate with traders to ensure a clearer understanding of the steps needed to renew leases.

Other Matters:
-        Christmas trading – a potential clash between the Night Market and Day Market on 23rd December has been avoided with the Night market not scheduled for that day. The Night Market is also not scheduled for 30th December.
-        A trader’s idea to activate the new Grand Final Friday public holiday for extended trading and special promotion was tabled. This would be reviewed in time for consideration in 2016.
-        Tenders for the provisioning of power to A&B sheds closed on 30th September.
-        A new Sunday offer is to be introduced with a focus on families with young children.
-        A magnetic vehicle sign highlighting the new QVM logo was presented to the meeting. It is intended that traders will be able to purchase the sign to promote their market involvement and quotes are being obtained.

The Queen Victoria Market Advisory Committee is a committee compromising elected QVM Trader Representatives from each market precinct and members of QVM management. The committee meets at regular intervals to discuss and advise on issues affecting the Queen Victoria Market. Meetings are attended by two QVM Board members and minutes distributed to the Board.

Meat Traders Get New Promotional Edge

Australia has the best steak in the world. At least, that is according to the results at the first ever World steak Challenge, held in London’s Hyde Park on 15th October. Australia picked up 4 gold medals and the title for the World’s Best Steak.
Seventy steaks from 10 different countries were assessed with judges deciding that Australia’s grain-fed Angus and Wagyu steaks produced the best quality beef.
And for the chef's amongst you, the steaks were cooked on lava stone.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Are You Digitally Ready For The Future?

If you would like to know more about being digitally ready, a breakfast forum conducted by City of Melbourne may be just the answer.
Go to this website and book but make sure you do it before Friday midday.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Four Week Licence – A Great Idea

Last week’s Trader’s Bulletin included content on a new license arrangement for budding stall holders and it would appear to have great potential.

Some time ago, QVMAC Trader Representatives approached management about removing the barriers to trading at QVM. With “business incubator” being a strong market objective it was incongruous that prospective traders were being asked to sign licences upfront. We knew that QVM needed to attract more creative budding entrepreneurs but those same entrepreneurs were rightfully reluctant to commit a new idea for the long term. We were in a retail recession (we still are) and the hurdles to success were many and high.

But if you could try out your idea without being tied down you could experiment with greater confidence. The new 4 week licence allows just that. We applaud this initiative from our recruitment team although the new flexibility does bring another problem. Four of the new traders listed in last week’s bulletin appear to have similar ranges. Obviously we don’t want to perpetuate the duplication that has haunted some categories in the market’s recent history. However we would much rather have a trader-selection problem than a trader-supply problem and the 4 week trial licence appears to have succeeded in that regard. 

Have Your Say – click here.

Specialty Traders Showcased At New Night Market

Stir Frydays is the new Friday night destination at QVM and the first night looked a great success with Specialty Merchandise being part of the action.

Think food, drink, and socialising and you can understand the concept in a nut-shell. So why is Specialty Merchandise there? The idea to cross promote Specialty Merchandise in the top-end with a night food market came from a recent QVMAC meeting. If QVM is to become the "market of markets" then letting patrons know what else the market has to offer just makes a lot of sense. 

The Specialty Merchandise marquee showcased just 7 trader's product ranges. The idea was to give a snap shot of some of the products that might be of interest to a new clientel. The night market crowd was a younger, trendier clientel than we normally see at the day market and seemed to include a mix of city workers on the way home and those out for an evenings socialising. Goods were not sold from the marquee, this was purely about promotion, however plenty of business cards were handed out during the evening and we hope to generate return business for the day market. This was our first night of the event and we will be doing some tweaking to the display for next Friday.

A big thank you to the traders who made their displays available and to the event staff for accommodating us at short notice.

Have Your Say - click here.

To Work...Or Not To Work

A long term trader stopped me in the aisle yesterday to complain about being charged rent for not trading on a public holiday. His complaint was a simple one but it goes to the whole question of business work ethic and family commitment.

The public holiday in question was the new Grand Final Eve Friday that has received so much attention in the press. The trader was complaining that a public holiday is a family day and that he should be allowed to spend time with his family away from the market. Incidentally, Grand Final Eve public holiday was declared a normal working day at the market with support from the majority of traders.

I asked this trader why he didn’t just take a day’s leave (he is a PE Trader on a daily license) and he said he had run out of Fridays. All of a sudden I knew what the problem was here. PE Traders are given 8 weeks leave per year and he had used all his 8 Fridays. There is little doubt that the retail recession has made it more likely for traders to take their leave. I asked this trader if he would have taken the Friday off in the good times when sales were plentiful and he refused to answer. I am taking that as a “No”.

Traders making attendance choices based on expected sales is not unusual. The 8 weeks leave system was introduced to counter the actions of some long term traders who only traded during busy times. Some traders used to only trade 3 months per year – November, December and January. They would rock up each November to claim their preferred position in the allocation queue, make the most of the busiest trading time of year, and then depart again at the end of January. Clearly that was unacceptable to those traders who had put in all year and often couldn’t get a stall in peak times.

Spending time with your family is important but it is impacted by many issues including the work ethic strains of running a small business particularly in retail. I am unashamedly biased on this subject. I have never felt that working at the QVM has compromised my life with my family or that very important role of bringing up children. My children have been successful in their careers and family lives despite being subjected to an onerous work ethic involving 4 days of manufacturing followed by 3 days of market trading. They were brought up on a diet of early morning starts, boring times hanging around the stall, and restricted attendance at family events – but have thrived.

My skin specialist, who happens to be an Associate Professor, fondly talks about his childhood amongst the pallets of the fruit & vegetable stall his parents operated at QVM. He remembers the important life and business lessons he learned during those times. These are only anecdotal references from earlier times, but hopefully things haven’t changed so much. I would like your thoughts.

But back to the real question – is it right to reduce trading at QVM (make absences more accessible) because times are tough? I am not down-grading the family aspect but the real issue here is excellence in retail delivery to our customers and how we maintain that excellence no matter what the sales environment. And just to really throw the cat amongst the pigeons – how is it that one of the three public holidays that we do not trade on, is one of Melbourne’s busiest days of retailing (Boxing Day)? My inner voice says "Shut-up Greg - we must protect that one."

Greg Smith - QVMAC Trader Representative

Thursday 8 October 2015

Favourite Traders Announced

Public voting has officially closed on the 2015 Melbourne Market Awards. With more than 7,500 votes received by Market shoppers, the 2015 trader ‘Favourites’ can now be revealed.

Congratulations to the following Queen Vic Market traders who have been voted by their customers as favourite in their category.

Poultry and Game
The Chicken Pantry
Fruit and Vegetables
Garden Organics
Hagen’s Organic Meats
Curds & Whey
Specialty Food
M&G Caiafa
Gazza’s Gourmet Seafood
Market Lane Coffee
General Merchandise
Pompous Paws
The Borek Shop
Nursery and Flowers
Joe Leuzzi Flowers
Fashion and Accessories
Bruce Goose
Vic Market Gifts & Engraving
Hair and Beauty
Inner Essentials
Veteran Trader
Michael Caiafa (Senior), M&G Caiafa
The winning Favourite Market traders now go in the running to become Melbourne’s ‘Best’. Each Favourite will soon be visited by an expert panel of judges who go undercover as secret shoppers to test trader performance using a strict criterion, including quality of product, presentation and customer service.

Melbourne’s Best Market Traders will be announced at the Melbourne Market Awards ceremony on November 8.