Friday 24 June 2016

A Conflict of Interest For Box Hirer's

Box hire operators have become influential participators in the renewal debate but we shouldn't confuse the aims of a box hire operator with the aims of traders or indeed what is best for our market.

Hanan Mark's STAG group has been at the forefront of the green ban debate. One of the core points demanded by STAG is to "Provide certainty, security, and rights for all existing stallholders and traders." Keeping as many traders as possible under our sheds is an understandable aim for box hire operators. When a trader leaves the market, it has little immediate impact on other traders except perhaps for their competitors who will take up the slack. But if the departing trader hired storage boxes, that is an immediate hit to the box hirer's bottom line. Their concern is understandable. It should be noted that QVM's bottom line also suffers.

Gone are the old days when QVM management was in a mad rush to fill the top end with traders, with little regard for retail integrity. Over supply, and poor selection standards have been identified by most traders as errors that need correction and, as the top end is fine tuned to be more relevant to today's consumers, a smaller trader population is a likely outcome.

Box hire operators make a valuable contribution to our market and nobody can blame them for looking to protect their business. But the retail revolution has made it clear that the old ways need to be severely challenged and our retail business model requires change. That is likely to mean fewer traders in the top end and, like every other trader, box hire operators may need to find additional ways to sustain their businesses. 

Ultimately it is not QVM, box hirer's, or traders who decide how many traders will prosper in the top end. Customers will decide that, and getting the mix right for them must remain our priority.

By Greg Smith

25/06/2016 11:04:06 Box Hire article "Dear Greg Smith. 

In response to your misconstrued statement, ""A Conflict of Interest For Box Hirers"", STAG is not run by one person (Hanan Mark). STAG is run by a number of dedicated, hardworking stall holders, service providers and members of the greater community. It has over 80% of stall holders and businesses in the market signed up, with support  growing everyday. Along with the backing of Australia's biggest trade unions, as well as a dedicated legal team, STAG has the full support of all box hire operators. 

You have now just confirmed what we have long suspected - that you are in support of making the top end of the market smaller. Which in turn kicks out hundreds of families and their businesses, in which some have traded for generations. As an elected advisory committee member and with an attitude like that, you have clearly failed to represent the stall holders' best interests as you were elected to do so. 

Box hire operates do realise some change is needed in the market. However, we find some of your comments offensive and incorrect. 
You state that ""a smaller trader population is the likely outcome"" and ""that is likely to mean fewer traders in the top end"". Where are you getting this information from? These statements clearly contradict the assurances given from the QVM CEO at a meeting with STAG representatives on Friday 17 June.  In that meeting, QVM CEO guaranteed every stall holder and business security of tenure during and after redevelopment.   

General discussions in the market amongst traders suggest views of certain QVMAC members are in total conflict with the majority of views of traders. We are glad elections are coming up so that traders have a chance to have someone elected to represent their views, instead of a personal view. 

We are very doubtful that our response will be published on your website. However, we don't really care, as we and many other traders in the QVM are looking in the correct and moral direction. 


25/6/2016 2052Hrs
"Thank you for such a comprehensive response to the article on conflict of interest. The issue of trader fortunes in the top end is a very important one and certainly worthy of intense scrutiny and debate.

Let me respond on a number of points –
1.      I have no doubt that there are a number of persons involved with STAG but so far the only document freely available is a leaflet headed “QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET STALLHOLDERS & TRADERS ACTION GROUP (STAG)” that was handed to me a few weeks back by Hanan. The only contact name on that document is Hanan’s. I am not aware of any information about STAG beyond that document.

2.      I am not in support of making the top end smaller. My preference is for a fully populated top end with every trader making a healthy living from their trading business. Unfortunately there are clear indications (trader’s leaving) that the current population of traders may not be supportable. I see my responsibility as a QVMAC Trader Representative to seek that whatever level of trader involvement exists in the top end is sustainable for the long term. There is a clear understanding amongst the trader group that this may involve fewer traders than operated at the peak of the markets operation – pre-GFC.

3.      There is a global retail reality that many businesses are struggling with the retail recession and significant adjustments are being forced on the whole industry. Some retailers are adjusting to the new retail reality, some are not (Dick Smith’s etc.). The assurances given by QVM’s CEO are indeed welcome and hopefully every trader will be given the chance to assess their trading options, make considered decisions on their future including the option of changing their product range, and if all else fails, be given the opportunity to exit under the most favourable conditions possible.

4.      A trader election in September is indeed welcome for many reasons. In a trader group of 600 or 700 people it is inevitable that many views exist. That is a healthy democracy at work. I can’t speak for other QVMAC Trader Representatives but my efforts to provide the best possible trading environment for my PE Trader constituents will continue unabated until that election.

5.      Your response has been published (thank you again) and any follow up will also be published. This is a very important matter."
Regards – Greg Smith

26/06/2016 23:26:40   Box Hire    "As I am currently enjoying a break I wasn't going to weigh in on QVM matters till my return, but as we head into Renewal and an election, an aspect of the reply to Greg's post was too important to let pass by without comment.
I don't intend at this point to weigh in on the numerous issues raised by both the post and the reply but will limit myself to making note of that one aspect.
In the last sentence of the reply the following was stated: ""we... are looking in the correct and moral direction.""
Now Greg and I have worked side by side in the interest of the market for over 7 years now, and in that time we have regularly had passionate discussions and sometimes heated disagreements over certain issues and directions, and still do, from time to time. But never have I found any reason to doubt Greg's 'morality' or 'correctness'. Its quite disappointing and discouraging to think that for some a divergent opinion automatically makes the other opinion somehow 'immoral' or 'incorrect'. Or that there is a need to introduce such loaded emotive terminology into an exchange of sincerely held opinions.
Lets hope that we can learn to be able to disagree or hold different opinions and yet maintain basic fundamental levels of respect and maturity in our discourse.
Rather than allowing ourselves to be polarized or attempt to polarize others with judgmental terminology it would be nice to think we can listen to different views respectfully and with an open mind. For in most instances, I believe, the truth or the 'correct' position often lies somewhere in between two strongly felt or held opinions."        Ivano         

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