Australian Retailers Association


StartupSmart’s top picks for this year’s Small Business Festival Victoria

8:23AM | Thursday, 14 August

The Small Business Festival Victoria is underway, aiming to provide more than 300 events to people across the state on how to start and grow their own business.   Here are StartupSmart’s top picks:   Developing a High Performing Team Date: 27 August 5.30-8pm Venue: Australian Institute of Management Address: Level 20, 380 La Trobe Street Melbourne Cost $50   This event, presented by the Australian Institute of Management and Victoria Training College, will help you build a more sustainable and profitable business by converting your team into a high calibre unit.   Thought Dynamics: Create a Culture of Performance Date: 16 August 2-4pm Venue: Festival Hub, Federation Square Address: Corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne Cost: Free   Want to improve efficiency in the workplace, foster innovation and enhance profits? Then this panel, presented by Thought Dynamics, is for you.   Chinese Negotiating Strategies Date: 19 August 5-8pm Venue: Carlton Library meeting room Address: 667 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North Cost: $40   This workshop is aimed at helping small business owners engage effectively with Chinese business counterparts by understanding cultural differences and ways of negotiating.   Accelerate Your Business with Grants Date: 19 August 12-1.30pm Venue: The Cluster Address: Level 10, 50 Market Street Melbourne Cost: $25   Presented by Treadstone Enterprises, this workshop looks into what business grants are available and how to write that winning application.   Crowd Sourcing: What is it and How to Make it Work Date: 28 August 2.30-5.30pm Venue: Trunk Bar and Restaurant Address: 275 Exhibition Street Melbourne Cost: $25   Discover how the right questions in the latest market research platform – crowd sourcing – can improve your overall business and marketing strategies. Presented by the Australian Retailers Association.   Convert Website Visitors into Paying Customers Date: 21 August 9.30-11.30am Venue: Arrow Internet Marketing Address: 412 Collins Street Melbourne Cost: $49   This workshop is about gaining the practical knowledge and tools to help your website turn clicks and page views into revenue.   Kick Start your Idea Date: 22 August 2-3pm Venue: Community Bank Stadium Address: 129-163 Main Hurstbridge Road, Diamond Creek Cost: $10   Have a great business idea? This workshop will help you turn it into a reality with various tips, tools and resources.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Twitter files papers for $US1billion IPO

10:25PM | Thursday, 3 October

Social networking giant Twitter has filed papers with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission ahead of an IPO in which it seeks to raise $US1 billion.   The company revealed that it had 218 million users as of June 30, compared to around 1.2 billion for Facebook and 240 million for LinkedIn.   Twitter also revealed it lost $US69.3 million during the first half of 2013, compared to a $US49.1 million loss for the same time last year, but revenues grew to $US254 million from $US122 million.   Turnbull names Switkowski as new NBN chairman   Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has named former Telstra and Optus chief executive Ziggy Switkowski as the chairman of NBN Co.   The German-born nuclear physicist replaces current NBN chairwoman Siobhan McKenna, while also temporarily replacing Mike Quigley as chief executive until a full-time replacement is appointed.   “In appointing Dr Switkowski to the board as chairman, we're appointing one of the most experienced telecom executives in Australia ... someone who's been the CEO of not just Telstra but Optus as well, a very distinguished company director and chairman," Turnbull says.   Retailers renew calls for GST threshold cut as online shopping figures are released   The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released figures showing consumers spent more than $7.6 billion on online retailers on purchases below the $1000 GST threshold, prompting calls to remove the low-value threshold.   Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says the higher than expected sales point to an uneven playing field in the sector between local retailers and overseas-based online retailers.   “The concern isn't that people are spending money online – either locally or overseas. The concern is that it's not a level-playing field,” Zimmerman says.   “We believe that the firm of online [shopping] generally will grow, and as that figure grows, there will be a bigger loss of income to the states and territories if they don't do something about the low-value threshold.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down .9% to 14996.48. The Aussie dollar is at US93.96 cents.

Abbott tipped to dump company tax cut for small business

4:37AM | Wednesday, 24 April

Above: Opposition leader Tony Abbott.   The Liberal Party will abandon its promise to cut company tax by 1.5%, should it be elected, new reports have suggested, disappointing business groups which have long called for a cut in this tax rate.   Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (pictured above) has consistently said he would fund a $3.3 billion parental leave scheme by raising company tax a further 1.5% on the biggest 3,200 companies while introducing a cut of the same size for other businesses.   In net terms, this would have resulted in companies outside the top 3,200 having a company tax rate of 28.5%, down from the current 29%.   But now, sources have told The Australian Financial Review a 1.5% tax decrease was still possible, but unlikely. This would mean the top 3,200 companies are slugged with an extra tax but other businesses would receive no relief.   A spokesperson for Shadow Small Business Minister Bruce Billson told SmartCompany commitments can only be made based on the latest information.   “As of the last budget we believe that we can introduce a modest cut to company tax,” he says.   “Unlike the Government we will not make reckless spending promises without taking into account changing budget forecasts and a deteriorating budget position.”   The move, if it is accurate, is sure to disappoint businesses. The business community reacted negatively last year to the Government’s announcement it would abandon a company tax cut for SMEs.   Abbott yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to the paid parental leave scheme and said it would be funded by increasing the company tax rate for Australia’s largest 3,200 companies.   “It's been a signature policy of ours since early 2010 and I want this important reform to be one of the things for which an incoming Coalition government is remembered,” he said.   “I want to stress that this isn't just a women's issue, it's not just a families issue, it's an economic issue and if we can get more women productively into the workforce, that's good for the economy as well good for families as well as good for society.”   Earlier this year SmartCompany investigated the policy changes small business leaders wanted to see this year and a cut in the company tax rate was a regular feature.   SmartCompany contacted the executive director of the Council of Small Businesses of Australia, Peter Strong, but he was unavailable to comment prior to publication.   Executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, previously told SmartCompany changes to the current tax system are needed.   “If there are good reasons to make changes, changes that make more economic sense, then surely we should make those changes,” he said.   Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, was quoted in The Australian Financial Review as saying there were “deep concerns” about Abbott’s parental leave scheme.   He said the proposal would, “put a huge additional cost on bigger companies”.   “At times like these businesses need reductions on cost burdens, not new ones”.   The move comes alongside an admission from the Opposition the budget may not return to surplus for some time, with Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey signalling a longer than expected wait.   “We are not going to go down the path of austerity simply to bring the budget back to surplus because it would end up being a temporary surplus, depending on how big the deficit is that we inherit,” he said yesterday.   Earlier this year Hockey pledged on ABC Radio’s AM program the budget would be returned to surplus in the first year of governing, “and every year after that”.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Easter spending set to hit $3bn: Three key trends to get your teeth into

3:37PM | Wednesday, 27 March

Premium chocolate brands and craft beers are among the firm favourites for Easter this year, with Australians set to spend more than $3 billion opting for at-home celebrations over overseas getaways, according to a new report.   IBISWorld says that Australian consumers are opting for a “back to basics” Easter this year, with traditional celebrations at home taking precedence over overseas trips and restaurant meals.   Across the four-day Easter break, IBISWorld forecasts Australians will spend more than $3 billion, equating to $132.85 per capita – a slight increase on the $130.33 per capita Australians spent last year.   The findings are in line with the latest Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence rating, which shows consumer confidence is up to 122 points – 11.4 points higher than at the same time a year ago.   Here are some of the key trends and tips for Easter spending in 2013:   More discerning chocolate-lovers   In 2013, expenditure on chocolate and confectionery is expected to grow by 5.2% to reach $185.7 million.   However, many Australians will choose dark, organic chocolate over traditional favourites.   “Australians are becoming increasingly health conscious – a trend that has resulted in growing demand for low-fat and low-sugar treats,” says IBISWorld general manager Karen Dobie.   “Dark chocolate is expected to be a popular choice this Easter… Sustainability will also be on people’s minds, with fair trade chocolate tipped to be a favoured gift.”   In addition to dark and fair trade chocolates, Dobie anticipates consumers’ love of luxury will also come to the fore, with brands such as Lindt and Haigh’s enjoying increasing demand.   Seafood fare matched with a premium drop   Since many people plan on celebrating Easter at home, Dobie says supermarkets and butchers can expect a boost in spending on traditional barbeque fare, while fishmongers and liquor retailers will also do well.   IBISWorld anticipates fish and seafood expenditure to enjoy growth of around 4.9%, with seafood extending its popularity from Good Friday – when many Australians abstain from eating red meat – to Easter Sunday.   Meanwhile, alcohol spending is forecast to hit $137.6 million, with imported wines, cider and craft beers tipped as firm favourites.   Overall, IBISWorld anticipates food and beverage spending will reach $1.55 billion – a 3.6% increase on last year’s outlay.   Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, says food retailers need to think about how best to promote their products.   “If you’re a general store selling Easter bunnies, you should be predominantly displaying them,” Zimmerman says.   “There’s also an opportunity there to perhaps market your Easter bunnies with another product. It’s not just about Easter bunnies – it’s about doing something else to sell with it.   “Try and add that extra product in that you want to try and promote.”   Similarly, retail guru Debra Templar, of The Templar Group, says bag-stuffers are an ideal way to boost sales.   Domestic travel trumps overseas getaways   This year, IBISWorld forecasts Easter holiday and travel spending will grow by just 3.9%. However, domestic travel will be more popular than short breaks overseas.   “This year most of us will be limited to domestic destinations – using the break to visit family and friends rather than splurging on international trips,” Dobie says.   According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians spent approximately 5% more on overseas travel during the past Christmas holidays than in 2011.   This suggests Australians will be reining in their spending during subsequent holiday periods, including Easter.   “Easter falling outside of the school holidays in some states will also have an impact on international travel,” says Dobie.

Business leaders call Labor’s rapid small business minister rotation “appalling”

3:36AM | Wednesday, 27 March

Small business leaders around Australia are concerned the appointment of Gary Gray as the sixth small business minister under the current government creates further uncertainty about the direction of small business policy in Australia.   Given Gray has also been handed responsibility of the resources, energy and tourism portfolios, SME advocates believe he will not be able to adequately dedicate his time to understanding the needs of small business.   Council of Small Businesses of Australia executive director Peter Strong told SmartCompany he’s disappointed by the rate of turnover in the position.   “We run on confidence, but it’s hard to be confident when we’re unsure of the future. There have been a lot of surveys done and uncertainty is the biggest problem,” he says.   “I don’t know how much he understands, we’ll have to see if he understands the issues facing small business about competition law and consumer problems.”   “He needs to sit down and give the industry confidence and set some policies.”   Prior to his position in government, Gray worked with companies such as BHP Steelworks, Wesfarmers and as an advisor to Woodside Petroleum.   Strong says when it comes to the small business minister, background is important.   “If you have a background like [Opposition Small Business Spokesman] Bruce Billson does in small business, then you are more likely to understand the problems businesses face.”   Without that, Strong says it comes down to the attitude Gray has and if he has the capacity to understand the fact we’re not just business we’re people,” he says.   SmartCompany contacted Gray for comment but received no response prior to publication.   Australian Retailers Association executive director Russel Zimmerman told SmartCompany Gray won’t have the time to develop an understanding of small businesses prior to the September election.   “It would be nice to see a person allocated the role stay in it long enough to be able to get to understand small businesses.”   “It’s going to be hard for him to get a grasp on the portfolio. If they are returned again, we hope they’ll bring some stability,” he says.   Zimmerman says an election needs to be held because the government has recently become a “farce”.   “I think there was a good reason for the government to go to the people because it’s become a farce,” he says.   Zimmerman says he’s also concerned with the number of responsibilities Gray is taking on board.   “Tourism and small business go hand and hand, but certainly his other role will not be necessarily associated with small business,” he says.   Gray is yet to communicate with Zimmerman or Strong, but both industry representatives say they hope he will do so soon.   Accounting group MYOB released a new report today which found SME dissatisfaction with the federal government remains high at 54%.   MYOB chief executive Tim Reed told SmartCompany the number of recent small business ministers is “appalling”.   “It’s a message which says government policies have not been well explained to small business owners,” he says.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Chris Bowen speaks out but SMEs want action, not words

3:48AM | Friday, 15 March

Two weeks after his appointment, Chris Bowen has finally spoken up as the country's newest small business minister, but his criticism of the Coalition's small business policies hasn't been wholly accepted by the community he has been chosen to represent.

An industry wishlist for Small Business Commissioner Mark Brennan – and his take on things

3:13AM | Thursday, 14 March

It’s only been a few weeks since Mark Brennan stepped into his role as the inaugural Australian small business commissioner, following the announcement of his appointment in October.

Fair Work changes coming, business hesitant over flexible working rights

3:54AM | Friday, 15 March

Small business has expressed its hesitation over the federal government's planned expansion of flexible workplace laws, saying they could threaten the viability of businesses in certain industries and place undue pressure on struggling SMEs.

Gerry Harvey says he will dominate online retail: Five gems from his latest interview

3:58AM | Friday, 15 March

Gerry Harvey has been one of the most divisive figures in Australian online retail, and he’s not going away.

Business groups fear policy paralysis following election announcement

1:46AM | Thursday, 31 January

Yesterday’s announcement of the 2013 federal election date garnered a largely positive response from business groups, but there are now concerns about “policy paralysis” within government.

Start-ups’ federal election wish list

3:30AM | Thursday, 14 March

Some say it’s too late. Some, even those who have been continuously calling for the nation to go to the polls for the past three years, say it’s too early, given the budget announcement isn’t until May.

GST threshold change unlikely to impact overseas web purchases: Report

3:21AM | Monday, 11 March

Almost 80% of Australian consumers oppose reductions to the GST-free threshold on overseas online purchases, but any change will do little to quell their appetite to spend, new research reveals.

Retailers rejoice over extended trading after November sales slide

3:14AM | Monday, 11 March

New retail sales figures show sales slid by 0.1% in November, but the December figures could see a significant turnaround after retailers sang the praises of extended trading hours.

Gen X pips Boomers to lead online retail spending

3:13AM | Monday, 11 March

Generation X remains the key generational group for online spending, according to analysis by NAB, with an industry expert attributing the finding to Gen X’s easy access to technology.

Retailers handed new year security warning

3:12AM | Monday, 11 March

The start of a new year is the ideal time for retailers to review their security measures, says the Australian Retailers Association, which claims that theft costs the industry $7.5 billion a year.

Four business sectors cashing in during Australia's heat wave

3:12AM | Monday, 11 March

While the country may be sweltering through some of the hottest days ever recorded, some businesses are actually enjoying some success as the mercury rises.

THE NEWS WRAP: Retailers bank on tardy men for last minute Christmas shopping splurge

3:19AM | Friday, 15 March

A last minute Christmas spending surge is set to hit retailers this week, with one in 10 Australian men set to leave their festive shopping until today.

The Project Factory offers Christmas promo tips after launching Santa Panic!

3:20AM | Monday, 11 March

A Sydney-based digital production company has highlighted the importance of creating a narrative for time-sensitive games, after launching Christmas-inspired iPhone game Santa Panic!

THE NEWS WRAP: Last-minute shoppers to bump sales above last year’s festive season total

12:33PM | Wednesday, 19 December

A last-minute surge in Christmas shopping will see spending over the festive period edge past last year’s total, according to the peak retail body.

Carbon tax has damaged eight in 10 retailers, industry body claims

3:21AM | Monday, 11 March

The carbon tax has been dragged into the spotlight once again, with a new survey by the peak retail body showing 80% of businesses say they have been negatively impacted by the tax.