Sunday 26 February 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 26/2/2017

Some trader’s comments from this week -

February Trading “I don’t see what all the fuss is about. This February is just like all the others – mainly crap trading with a few surprises.”

On DFO Plane Crash “This could be a good opportunity to invite those retailers at DFO Essendon to come to QVM and add some variety to this market.”

On Harry, The Roving Musician – “I like the buzz he creates. It is about time we brought entertainment under the sheds instead of inviting customers down to Queen St.”

On Vic Ailakis’ Departure – “He was a nice guy but change happens.”

On the New Organisational Structure – “If the new General Manager, Market Trading has good retail experience that could be a big plus for the whole market.”

Latest Retail News – 26/2/2017

Latest Retail News – 26/2/2017
1. Supermarket price war continues to dominate.
2. David Jones sales up 4% for half year.
3. Baby Bunting performance enhanced by store expansion.
4. Commonwealth Bank’s Business Sales Indicator shows overall growth in January although retail stores down.
5. Global food giant, Unilever, rejects takeover bid from Kraft/Heinz.
6. Consumer confidence continues to trend down in February.
7. Woolworths bounces back with $725m half year profit.
8. Reject Shop’s half year profit slides.
9. Coca-Cola closes SA manufacturing plant.
10. Myer launches live online fashion show and buying opportunity via Twitter.
11. Vitamin sales slump hits Blackmore’s results.
12. Super Retail Group half year profit up 62.5%.
13. Fair Work Commission cuts Sunday wage penalty rates for retail workers.
14. Retail landlord, Stockland, posts strong first half profit.
15. Billabong posts $16m loss for half year with sales down dramatically.

Random Quotes

QVM In The News - 25/2/2017

To be reminded how much fine food flows around this town, one need look no further than the nearby Queen Victoria Market - a loud, pungent and ...

MELBOURNE City Council is set to sell a parcel of land for $33 million to help fund a carpark and community facilities opposite Queen Victoria Market.

Current Traders Can Join The Incubation Program

A couple of weeks ago we reported on the plan to activate the top of C Shed with an incubation market populated by budding entrepreneurs. The idea was to group new trader applicants together as a type of showcase that would be easy to monitor and of course fill some vacant spaces.

One of the problems was getting enough traders together to create the right trading environment, or “market buzz” and it was suggested that current traders wanting to try something new could be included in the mix.

We are pleased to advise that that door is now open. Current traders who want to try a new concept, a variation on a current concept, or just “test the water”, are invited to contact Business Manager, Matt Ryan (T (03) 9325 9441 M 0421 359 913 E

If you just want to clear some stock or duplicate your existing stall then don’t waste your time (or Matt’s). This is for genuine new ideas or concepts that would benefit from a short term testing process.

Many traders will be contemplating their future role at QVM and keen to experiment with new ideas that may enhance their business and the market. This could be a great opportunity.

Harry Entertains The Top End

Roving musician, Harry, was providing plenty of toe-tapping entertainment on Saturday as he roamed the sheds between Queen St and Peel St.

Harry has great rapport with customers and traders, and bringing entertainment to the customers while they shop certainly makes a lot of sense. Maybe Harry should become a regular ambassador for the market.

To Serve or Not To Serve

Like many aspects of retail, salesmanship is going through a renaissance, and the latest version of attending to your customers is very different.

In the good old days (whatever they were) attending to customers involved approaching every customer directly and launching into your sales pitch. You would extol the virtues of your products, explain why they were essential to the customer, and of course before the customer left the stall, get in the line “so, how many would you like?”

There was some tweaking to the technique of course. We went through a stage where “Can I help you?” was replaced with the more sophisticated approach “That product has just been classified as “most valuable” by the Caroline Springs Housewives Association, and do you know it comes in 5 different colours?” You get the idea.


But things have certainly changed and the big change is the shift from a salesperson dominated discussion to a customer dominated discussion. And often the customer choice is “no discussion”. Customers have entered a new world of control. They can even decide not to visit stores and do their shopping online, which increasing numbers are doing. Why should they put up with the interference of sales staff when they can choose and purchase un-interrupted?

Abuse of sales staff is now a thing. Smartcompany recently reported that over half of Australia’s retail sales workforce have been physically or verbally abused. Conflict training is now an important part of retail training programs and the ABC published an article before Christmas last year entitled “Why You Should Be Nice To Sales Staff”. The bottom line is that the “pushy” approach with customers is no longer appropriate.

So, what is the best way to deal with customers these days? One of our more successful traders is famous for being regularly absent from his stall. In fact he is never far away and keeps a close check on customer behaviour. He likes to give customers a free go to get hooked on his products but as soon as their body language suggests they want to take the next step, he is by their side. This is customer attention but in a different way.

The thing that doesn’t change is your awareness of customer behaviour. Sitting at the back of your stall immersed in a game on your mobile phone doesn’t qualify. But carefully watching behaviour and then moving in when the time is right can reap rewards. Don’t be pushy, but be attentive and hopefully you will end up with a sale, and maybe a handshake from a happy customer who has respected the fact that you gave them space.
Good luck!

Have Your Say - click here.

A Shed Entertains

I took a walk up A Shed on Saturday and there were some pleasing aspects to the new presentation.

Queen St Plaza is developing its “festival” concept and as you walk into A Shed the combination of key anchor spots like the Mussell Van, Rocco’s Juicery, and Rewine add variety and quality.

Is it my imagination or do the fruiterers in this area look more professional in their presentation? Gus & Carmel’s Ilfruttivendolo shows a point of difference.

Further up the aisle is the “Family Footy Zone” and there was a real buzz with the kids lining up to take “specces” over the blow up models. The young fellow shown in our photo went up to the staff afterwards to thank them for letting him join in which was a nice touch.

Adjacent to the Footy Zone were two giant TV screens showing a replay of last year’s AFL Grand Final between the Bulldogs and The Swans. An iconic football match that actually gained little attention from the market goers as our photo shows. That probably just says the Queen Vic Market was giving them better things to do. And from what I saw it certainly was.

By Greg Smith

A Market Story - The Day The Rot Set In

One of our senior traders says he can identify just when the decline in retailing started at QVM and he goes back to the time when J shed was populated by a huge range of fabric sellers.

One of the fabric sellers at the top of J shed sold only top quality suit fabric and there was a queue of tailors at his stall each morning. His fabric was very expensive, let’s say for illustration purposes, $100 per metre. At the other end of the aisle another fabric seller had 50c per metre fabric and he was also inundated with customers. In between was a huge range of different offers, all providing a specific type, quality and pricepoint for their group of customers. There was no better place to come for fabric than The Queen Vic Market, and you could find everything you wanted in the one aisle.

You are probably already saying that fabrics have declined in importance but stick with the story because our trader insists that the lessons to be learned apply equally to all current market categories.

When did the rot set in? One of the fabric sellers left the market and instead of replacing him with another fabric seller, the management at the time went to the Trader Allocation System and selected the longest serving trader. He didn’t sell fabric, and our trader can’t quite remember what he sold but let’s say it was toys or liquorice. That trader had demanded his right to be next in line and management had found an easy way to avoid conflict.

The nexus had been broken. The aisle was no longer curated for fabrics, customers could no longer be guaranteed a focused offer and that trend continued in most of the stall allocations that followed.

The lesson is simple – once you neglect the customer as the most important ingredient in this equation and defer to selfish trader interest or management convenience you run the risk of retail decline. Our market needs to make sense (and offer convenience) to our customers – no arguments.

Have Your Say – click here.

28/02/2017 10:19:28 The Rot "Tackling 'the Rot' in the Market is a big ask. So I'll take your title as a hook to get people reading rather than a suggestion that there is one simple problem/answer to the challenges markets face worldwide.

But let's look at the substance of the article, and fundamentally on the one hand it is a discussion over customer wants/needs over trader wants/needs (especially when the 2 are in conflict with one another). Secondly it is about the process which determines which traders go where.

I would think everyone understands the almost total merit in putting customer interests over trader interests. Where we get into some treacherous waters is when we discuss how to achieve that ideal.

So whilst in principle market curation is the right way forward, here are some basic prerequisites necessary to ensure optimum results.
1) Any system which decides which traders go where needs a rigorous and robust system that ensures at least 3 things, they being: CONSISTENCY / TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY. Without these there are ever present risks that you have got rid of one possible problem (trader self interest) but haven't done much to address the other 'rot creator'.
2) To ensure that you have curated the market in the true interests of the market/customers you need to have a deep and accurate understanding of the retail environment and what customers truly want/need (something which isnt always easily understood no matter how many surveys you do).

Historically the disconnect between management and the market floor, whether it is their lack of knowledge (and interest) around sales trends, market saturation, retail knowledge, foot traffic etc. etc. etc hasn't exactly engendered great confidence (That includes efforts to populate A Shed and C Shed over the last few years). So whilst I personally agree in principle in the concept of curating the market (it must happen) I also personally am very wary of how/who, given our rather paltry record so far." Hugh Know Who

Thanks Hugh. That is some great input and you are right, this is much more complex than the original article suggests. But in relation to the disconnect between management and the market floor we may need to observe that there are a number of measures in Malcolm McCullough's re-organisation that will help address that issue. There is Malcolm's own retail experience, the creation of Category Managers, the appointment of  a General Manager, Market Trading who we believe will have retail experience, and the creation of Business Manager roles with on the floor responsibilities. - Ed

Cultural Heritage Exclusion Zone In K & J Sheds?

One of our traders has raised an interesting question about the Aboriginal burial zone in the top end of the market.

Focus has been on a small area at the Queen St end of E & F Sheds where a service was held recently for the first aboriginals hanged in Victoria -  Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner.

However, plans for the Temporary Market Pavilion seem to indicate a much bigger area (see picture). That might just be a labelling issue but, if not, what are the implications for a “Cultural Heritage Exclusion Zone” of that size?

Have Your Say – click here.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Important Organisational Changes At QVM

The world of retailing has seen some significant structural changes as organizations adjust the way they manage their businesses and prepare for the challenges of modern retailing.

Preparing the Queen Vic Market has been high on CEO Malcolm McCullough’s agenda and this week he has announced some important changes to the market’s organisational structure.

Effective immediately, three General Manager positions have been created
-         General Manager, Market Trading.
-         General Manager Business Services.
-         General Manager Customer Engagement.

The role of GM Customer Engagement is an expansion of the current Head of Promotions and Communications role. This role will incorporate Customer Service (including Tours) and Activations and Events. Mark Scott will lead this area of the business.

The new GM Market Trading role will oversee many of the day to day operational areas of the business, such as facilities, maintenance and logistics, as well as trader engagement through the creation of two Business Manager roles. The Business Managers will lead the Category Managers, administration support and the Market Officers reporting into the Market Trading team. Spiros Foscolos will take on the role of Business Manager Fresh, Food and Hospitality, with Matt Ryan to take on the role of Business Manager General Merchandise.

The role of GM Business Services will take responsibility for functions including finance, administration, commercial/legal, IT, Human Resources, OHS and Environment and sustainability.

QVM have engaged an external recruitment firm to undertake a search for the right people to fill the GM Market Trading and GM Business Services roles.

The roles of Head of Transformation (Brendan Devine) and Head of Strategy (Fiona Whitworth) remain unchanged, however the responsibility for Category Management and Leasing will move to Market Trading and Business Services respectively. Trader Communication will fall under the Transformation group.

As part of these changes, the Chief Operating Officer role has been made redundant, with Victor Ailakis to leave the business tomorrow (Friday 24 February). Mr McCullough has thanked Victor for the more than 20 years of service he has provided to the Queen Victoria Market.

Have Your Say – click here.

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.