Archive for February, 2019

  • Dick Smith may take female-friendly Move stores offshore

    Date: 2019.02.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Dick Smith COE Nick Abboud at a new Move store in Sydney. Photo: Louise KennerleyDick Smith chief executive Nick Abboud is considering taking his female-friendly Move stores offshore as the retailer eyes growth opportunities beyond its traditional consumer electronics base in Australia.

    Launched by Mr Abboud in October last year, weeks before Dick Smith’s $520 million float, Move is now the fastest-growing and most productive part of the retailer’s business and is gaining global recognition after being nominated for three retail innovation awards.

    After receiving approaches from investors seeking to franchise the “fashtronics” concept, Mr Abboud is looking at options for taking Move overseas once store numbers have risen in Australia from seven to more than 30, including about 10 airport locations.

    “There’s nothing like this around the world,’ said Mr Abboud, who has more than 20 years retail experience, including 19 years at Myer. The 44-year-old came up with the Move concept after market research identified a gap in the $12 billion consumer electronics market.

    “The research that came back said that Dick Smith had pretty much a heartland type customer but the younger generation was not shopping at Dick Smith,” he said. “This was more about attracting a young affluent female customer.

    “I think Move could possibly go a lot further than 30 stores, but it may have to go international, and airports is an entry point to that,” he said.

    While Dick Smith and JB Hi-Fi are aimed at families with children and young- to middle-aged men, Move is blatantly targeting affluent 18- to 30-year-old women who see consumer electronics as fashion accessories.

    Move stores specialise in mobile technology including phones, laptops, portable wireless speakers, fitness monitors, headphones, clutch bags fitted with phone chargers and customised accessories featuring designs by fashion designers Dion Lee and We Are Handsome.

    Move stores are half the size of an average Dick Smith store and one-eight the size of JB Hi-Fi’s big boxes, but sales per square metre are higher than Dick Smith due to higher foot traffic and price points. Gross margins are expected to exceed Dick Smith’s (at present 25 per cent) as sales of private label Move accessories rise.

    Most importantly, Move gives Dick Smith a major point of difference with JB Hi-Fi as two of Australia’s largest consumer electronics retailers enter a new battle for market share.

    New JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Murray is intent on maintaining his 16 per cent share of the market, telling The Australian Financial Review last month he will not be undersold.

    Mr Abboud says Dick Smith is prepared to match competitors on price and now has supplier support and systems in place to ensure the chain can compete profitably.

    “We will not lose a sale as long as we are making money – we won’t allow staff to sell below cost,” he says.

    Dick Smith is using its $1.3 billion buying power to negotiate better deals with suppliers and generous rebates which give it more room to discount. Staff use deal calculators to judge how far they can reduce prices and stay above cost.

    “We’re not peddling on our own – that’s the difference between the new Dick Smith and the old Dick Smith,” said Mr Abboud, who took the helm a month after Anchorage Capital Partners paid Woolworths a $20 million down payment in 2012. He has since overseen a threefold rise in earnings.

    Nowhere is the battle between the two retailers more intense than at the recently refurbished Macquarie Shopping Centre in Sydney. Dick Smith has opened a 370 square metre store six doors down from JB Hi-Fi, as well as a Move store in the fashion precinct and a concession in the new David Jones department store.

    Mr Abboud says the three brands allow Dick Smith to take advantage of its buying power while appealing to three distinctly different groups of consumers.

    “It’s a fully integrated model – when we buy stock across all three brands the models and colours might be different but the deals we get are the same and support margins across all three brands,” he says.

    Mr Abboud is aiming to grow sales by between 5 and 10 per cent a year by using Dick Smith’s extensive store footprint (377 stores to JB Hi-Fi’s 182) to address all the touchpoints that influence a consumer’s purchase decision, including convenience, range and price, multichannel shopping with click and collect, and improved service, including post-paid mobile phones.

    At the same time, gross margins are expected to improve as the retailer expands its private label range from 11 per cent to 15 per cent of sales, while cost of doing business is forecast to fall from 19 per cent this year to about 17.5 per cent by 2017 – underpinning low double digit profit growth.

    Dick Smith is importing about $200 million in private label accessories under the Move brand and using the higher margin products to subsidise discounting on branded goods.

    “We’re selling it better, moving it better and we’re buying it a hell of a lot better as an organisation,” Mr Abboud says.

    “While Dick Smith did a very good job in private brand we’re taking it to another level. It will really help our margins and we can then go harder on selling computers and televisions.”

    Dick Smith’s underlying sales have been going backwards for most of the past five years. However, in the first 15 weeks of this year Dick Smith’s total sales grew 10 per cent and same-store sales rose 1.7 per cent – indicating that its sales growth strategy is achieving results –  while JB Hi-Fi’s same-store sales fell 2.1 per cent and total sales rose 0.5 per cent.

    Dick Smith shares have traded below their $2.20 issue price for most of the past 12 months, weighed down by concerns about the outlook for the consumer electronics category and the sustainability of the earnings rebound under Anchorage, which sold the rest of its stake in September.

    However, as the company approaches the first anniversary of the IPO, institutional investors and analysts are showing renewed interest.

    Cornerstone investor Perpetual has sold down, but FIL Investment Management has increased its stake from 7.9 per cent to 9.03 per cent in the past week.

    Ausbil Investment Management has reduced its stake in JB Hi-Fi in favour of Dick Smith. Ausbil director John Grace expects the company to generate low double-digit earnings growth as management executes its strategy, and sees further growth opportunities in the introduction of the three differentiated retail formats and omnichannel retailing.

    “In the short term we expect earnings growth will continue to beat forecasts,” Mr Grace said. “Together with a robust net cash balance sheet and a forecast fully-franked yield of greater than 6 per cent, there is solid valuation support.”

    Mr Abboud, who has about 15.3 million shares, making him one of Dick Smith’s largest shareholders, is sanguine about the share price and excited about the opportunities ahead.

    “Personally I don’t go home at night stressed about the whole experience, I actually get excited that I’m involved in that experience, whether it’s Move or David Jones or online or Dick Smith or duty free,” he said.

    “They’re things I know will put us way ahead of what everyone else is doing in the marketplace.”

    The self-confessed “gym nut” and new father is already thinking about growth options beyond 2017, when the company will have reached its 450-store target for the Dick Smith brand, online sales will have risen to 10 per cent and Move will have expanded into new markets.

    “We have no debt and a healthy cash position. We’ll start looking at acquisitions in similar spaces where we can increase our buying power and market share,” he said.

    “Forty per cent of the market is still fragmented, so there are plenty of opportunities.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Islamic State claims beheading of US aid worker Peter Kassig

    Date: 2019.02.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Peter Kassig delivering aid last year. Photo: AFP/Kassig family

    Peter Kassig delivering aid last year. Photo: AFP/Kassig family

    Peter Kassig delivering aid last year. Photo: AFP/Kassig family

    Peter Kassig delivering aid last year. Photo: AFP/Kassig family

    Threatening “slaughter” on Western streets, the Islamic State has released a video purporting to show the execution of US aid worker Peter Abdul-Rahman Kassig along with at least 12 Syrians.

    The horrifyingly graphic 15-minute video shows unmasked IS militants beheading a group of men – believed to be Syrian soldiers – then shows the decapitated head of 26-year-old Mr Kassig at the feet of the one masked insurgent in the group.

    The masked man, believed to be the militant dubbed “Jihadi John” from the previous videos that showed the execution of US journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff and two British aid worker Alan Henning and David Haines, says: “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen.”

    “To Obama, the dog of Rome. Today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers and with Allah’s permission we will break this final and last crusade and the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, begin to slaughter your people on your streets.”

    It is not possible to confirm the authenticity of the video.

    Mr Kassig served in the US Army in Iraq in 2007 and in 2013, after spending time with Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, started his own aid organisation – Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA) – and travelled to Syria as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician, his family said.

    He converted to Islam and took the name Abdul-Rahman before he was captured by the Islamic State, they said.

    Mr Kassig was on his way to the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, transporting medical supplies for desperately under-resourced hospitals when he was captured on October 1, 2013.

    His parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, issued a statement on Sunday as news of the video depicting their son’s brutal death broke.

    “We are aware of the news reports being circulated about our treasured son and are waiting for confirmation from the government as to the authenticity of these reports.”

    They asked the media to refrain from publishing or broadcasting photographs or video distributed by the hostage takers.

    “We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family, not in the manner the hostage takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause,” their statement reads.

    Described as someone who would “help refugees out of his own pocket”, Mr Kassig said he felt driven to help those injured in the more than three-year long civil war.

    “In an area of Syria where many doctors had fled, Abdul-Rahman went directly into Syria to help those in need and his organisation, SERA, provided first aid training to civilians so they could treat the injured and save lives,” his family said in a statement released in October.

    The US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said intelligence agencies were working to confirm the authenticity of the video.

    If it is authentic, she said, the White House would be “appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American aid worker.”

    British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was horrified by the “cold-blooded murder … ISIL have again shown their depravity”.

    Along with its Western media victims, the Islamic State has killed at least 17 Iraqi journalists in the last year, the media rights group Reporters Without Borders says.

    Since its bloody war began in March 2011, more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed and Syria has grown into the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists says.

    In addition to the deaths of Foley and Sotloff, at least 70 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict, most of them Syrian.

    An unprecedented number of journalists have also been taken hostage – 80 over the last three years, the CPJ says. Around 20 reporters, mostly Syrian, are missing and suspected of being held by the Islamic State.

    A third Briton, photographer John Cantlie, is still being held by the Islamic State, and has been forced to appear in a series of “news videos” by his captors.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Job Pilgrim in style of mediaeval miracle play

    Date: 2019.02.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Job Pilgrim: Maartje Sevenster as Hope Heart – Job’s wife – and Job – Neil Roach. Job Pilgrim: Neil Roach (Job) and Lindsay Roe (dervish).

    Job PilgrimBy Vivien Arnold. Kaleidoscope Productions. The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. November 20 and 21 at 8pm. Tickets $35/$25. Bookings: theq,

    For her dramatised oratorio Job Pilgrim, Vivian Arnold adapted and updated the biblical story of Job, in which a man’s faith in God is sorely tested. The piece combines symbolically named characters in the style of a mediaeval miracle play with a chorus of pilgrims who function like a Greek chorus.

    Job Pilgrim (Neil Roach) is an academic who is caught  plagiarising by a student, Will Judge (Edy Syquer) . Although it was a mistake, the student tells the dean and Job has a breakdown and is committed to a mental hospital.

    Not only does he have a mental crisis, he has a spiritual one too.

    “He can’t find God anywhere,” Arnold says.

    Among the other  characters are some who are of no help on his quest, like the Three Naysayers  – atheist Ivor Drain (Terry Johnson), hedonist Oliver Goodlife (Michael Thompson) and humanist Ada Fairway –  who try to persuade Job to give up his  spirituality and Dr Death (Jim Bowring) who tempts Job to commit  suicide.

    But on the other side are his wife, Hope Heart ( Maartje Sevenster), the nurse Martha Goodbody (Michelle Priest), the  highly spiritual volunteer Sophia Wise (Louise Page) and the orderly Christoff (Thompson Quan Wing) – whose name, like the others,  is no coincidence.

    Job Pilgrim was a long time in gestation. While the story of Job was one inspiration for the work, another was more deeply personal.

    “In 1996 and 2000 I had two stints in a mental hospital. For me it was a spiritual crisis.”

    She was terribly afraid of dying if there was no God.

    “It was my own spiritual crisis – I felt completely and utterly deserted and also desperate.”

    Her recovery was aided by music and painting and relationships and she decided to channel some of her feelings into Job Pilgrim.

    “I don’t want to imply that everyone with a mental illness has a spiritual crisis,” she says.

    But she knows others who’ve been in similar situations so she isn’t the only one with this experience.

    The members in Kaleidoscope are mostly in their 60s and 70s with a few in their 20s, 40s and 50s. It’s been going since 2007 and she says various churches have been very supportive in giving them rehearsal space .

    Proceeds for the performances  go to Home in Queanbeyan which provides permanent accommodation for previously homeless people suffering from mental illness.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Abuse victims finally find strength to seek support

    Date: 2019.02.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    HELP: Cathy Kezelman says the royal commission has sparked a flood of calls from victims.CALLS to Australia’s leading child abuse helpline have quadrupled since the start of the royal commission with research finding many survivors wait 30 years or more before seeking support.

    Analysis of the Adults Surviving Child Abuse professional support line has found that almost 100 people are coming forward each week with the majority of them aged over 40.

    The study of 4000 callers found the most common age for abuse to occur was between six and 10 years of age, but the majority of callers seeking help were aged between 40 and 49 years old.

    President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had encouraged more people to come forward.

    She said many had carried the burden of abuse for decades before seeking help.

    ‘‘There is an incredible sense of shame and self-loathing which does hold people back from seeking support,’’ she said. ‘‘People still worry about not being believed which is another deterrent.’’

    The Adults Surviving Child Abuse’s professional support line employs 14 specialist counsellors who work seven days a week but only between 9am and 5pm.

    Dr Kezelman said the organisation hoped to fund an evening support service.

    Adults Surviving Child Abuse will launch a social media campaign this week to support the estimated five million adult survivors of sexual abuse in Australia.

    Retired nurse Barbara, who suffered both physical and sexual abuse as a child, kept quiet for decades until she felt brave enough to speak out.

    Now 68, Barbara was abused in foster care and in institutions as a child but did not speak publicly about it until about 15 years ago.

    ‘‘I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was worried no one would believe me and I was embarrassed so I just said nothing.’’

    She says speaking about the abuse had helped her recover.

    ‘‘They are not going to make me a victim any more.

    ‘‘I am over being a victim.’’

    For support contact ASCA1300 657 380

  • Fears for ADF because of concerns over Defence Materiel Organisation workforce

    Date: 2019.02.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    More public service news

    Australian Defence Force members sent to fight Islamic State could be at risk on operations because staff at a major government department may be underqualified.

    A leaked internal audit of the Defence Materiel Organisation – which employs 6500 public servants and spends $12.5 billion of taxpayers’ money annually – shows DMO staff might be signing off on equipment authorisations without the necessary skill level.

    A Defence spokesman said there had been no identified instances where this had happened and ADF capability had not been compromised.

    But the opposition called on the Abbott government to act urgently and one union said the report proved a highly skilled government workforce was crucial to national security.

    The audit found the DMO had no strategy to attract the correct engineering and technical skills in the future and had no idea of the skills gaps in the organisation which could lead to the ADF being put at risk.

    In detail, the June 23, 2014, audit report found: An 18 per cent vacancy rate in the organisation’s engineering and technical workforce which could result in critical vacancies given current recruiting constraints in the public service and potential future downsizing.For the DMO’s 2014 graduate intake, only 30 out of 45 engineers accepted offers. None were women. The existing recruitment strategy was “not working effectively”.The average age of the DMO’s engineering and technical staff was 52, meaning there could be a further shortfall in three to five years when the existing ageing workforce retired.The workforce management system was neither capable nor robust enough to deliver the goals of high employee satisfaction and staff retention.

    Opposition assistant defence spokesman David Feeney said the report outlined a “dire threat to Defence capability, and, therefore, our national defence and our ADF people”.

    He said Defence Minister David Johnston must take urgent action.

    “The minister and DMO leadership must inform themselves of the skills and deficiencies of their existing workforce,” Mr Feeney said.

    “They must ascertain the future needs of DMO and they must develop a plan to recruit, train and retain the skilled people we need to procure and sustain our Defence capabilities.”

    Do you know more? Send confidential tips to [email protected]南京夜网.au

    Professionals Australia ACT director David Smith, an advocate representing Defence engineers, said the report highlighted the risks of having less in-house expertise and the “hollowing out of engineering capability”.

    Public servants fear two current reviews into Defence will support large-scale outsourcing resulting in more redundancies in the bureaucracy.

    “DMO is trying to do what it can to fix the gaps but can’t because of recruitment limits which, in themselves, are making Defence less of an appealing place to be,” Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith passed on comments from one of his members who said: “Under-resourced projects due to [staff] cutbacks will mean that there will be often one engineer working on a large body of work and if they leave or are sick, there is no one to pick up the work. Corners are being cut due to projects being under-resourced.”

    The Defence spokesman said the DMO was subject to ADF technical regulation oversight mandating suitably qualified personnel were involved in equipment authorisation.

    “ADF regulators independently assure this occurs both in acquisition and in sustainment activities,” the spokesperson said.

    “The DMO regularly conducts internal audits to better understand the state of the organisation.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.