RetailBiz Round Up for Monday 3 March 2014 – with Claire Reilly
Today's ASX results are here

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) has released the findings of its Retail Workforce Study, a report that tracks the emerging trends in the retail industry.

In its analysis of the Australian retail industry — and the 1.2 million workers it employs across 140,000 businesses — the report singles out the need for increased skills training, with retail employment projected to grow by 8.9 per cent (or 109,100 new jobs) over the next 5 years.

While the industry is growing, the AWPA said skill sets will need to change as “employees need a deeper level of product knowledge, more sophisticated interpersonal skills and higher levels of digital literacy, [and] managers need to acquire new skills in developing innovative business models and high-end Information and communications technology (ICT) solutions”.

Of particular concern to the AWPA is the projected shortfall in a number of skilled workers by 2025, including those trained as retail managers, advertising and sales managers, and ICT professionals; the industry is also already facing difficulties in recruiting for higher up positions including buying, planning and marketing roles.

“While the use of unaccredited and informal training is relatively high in the retail workforce, it has a relatively low level of formal qualifications,” the report found. “The career progression framework, outlined in the industry training package and higher education offerings, is poorly understood by both employers and potential students, and is generally underutilised.

“Of particular concern for the industry is a lack of high-level leadership and management skills to drive strategic change and transformation and to promote workforce development within businesses. Managers are typically being employed without a formal qualification and promoted internally, with minimal formal professional development. This has created significant skills deficits among managers, for example, in basic financial management, in people management and in strategic thinking and leadership.”

While the AWPA does raise concerns about the numbers of workers “falling into jobs in retail”, it also proposes a number of measures to “improve perceptions of the wide variety of retail career opportunities on offer” and to up-skill current retail workers.

These include the suggestion of Government funding for Certificate II study for retail workers; the development of “cluster-based” programs that group retailers by sector or location to promote collaboration; support for retail recruitment in regional areas; education for business owners on the benefits of training; more formal training programs such as cadetships and internships; and a focus on attracting “under-represented groups” such as Indigenous people and people with a disability.

The Retail Workforce Study summary can be read here and the full report can ead here.

As merger talks between Myer and David Jones move to the backburner, Myer has quietly established a new corporate entity in order to open a series of standalone stores, according to documents obtained by Fairfax Media. 

Fairfax today reported that Myer established “FSS Retail” (believed to stand for Free Standing Stores) 12 days ago, installing Myer CEO Bernie Brookes, CFO Mark Ashby and head of strategic planning Greg Travers, as directors for the new entity.

“FSS Retail is potentially being positioned to help Myer expand from its network of 67 department stores around the country by building free-standing stores that might be placed within shopping centres or along suburban retail strips,” Fairfax reported. “It will also help Myer in its ambition to expand its portfolio of exclusive brands.

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Chemmart Pharmacy is taking a more localised approach to eCommerce with a new online shopping solution that allows consumers to shop with their local store. Currently in early stages in Tasmania and set to roll out nationally, the Chemmart eCommerce platform employs the same Oracle eCommerce software used by US drug store chain Walgreens and UK department store John Lewis.

The eCommerce platform parts ways with the traditional model of a centrally-operated website in favour of a system that allows each pharmacy to manage its own online store. Individual pharmacies will be able to control online range and pricing and profits will be directed back to the store, rather than to the parent company.

“From a customer perspective, this local approach has the benefit of continuity of care and the convenience of being able to choose between speedy home delivery or collecting the order at their local pharmacy,” said Chemmart executive director Jonathan Layton.

“Through our e-commerce solution, customers can now continue to shop with their local Chemmart Pharmacy in a way that suits their lifestyle, knowing that their health needs are being looked after by the pharmacy team they know and trust.”

In retail crossover news, Samsung has partnered with online fashion retailer The Iconic to offer consumers Iconic gift vouchers when they trade in their old device. Consumers who purchase any new Galaxy smartphone device at selected retail stores can go online to value their old handset, provide proof of their new purchase and get access to The Iconic vouchers.

Telco provider Zen Telecom is set to meet the ACCC in the Federal Court, facing allegations that it “made false, misleading or deceptive representations during unsolicited calls to consumers by representing that they were acting on behalf of Telstra or company associated with Telstra”.

Zen Telecom trades under various names — including XLN Telecom, Venus Telecom, Action Telecom, Alpha Talk and Telko Key — and is a supplier of telephone, broadband, mobile and mobile broadband services across Australia.

Quote of the Day

''With the onset of the global financial crisis, recent years have proven challenging, but I am proud of having helped the company through this period and am very pleased with the state of the business and its standing at this point. Unlike most of our competitors, we have come through the GFC in a strong position, we have shored up our financial base (without having to resort to dilutive or costly and restrictive measures) and are currently achieving excellent results.”

Chairman and director of Rip Curl Ahmed Fahour has stepped down from his role at the surf clothing brand, saying it’s time “to move on”. Fahour is the current managing director and CEO of Australia Post, and former CEO of National Australia Bank’s Australian operations.

Image of the Day

As H&M prepares to launch in Australia in the coming weeks, the fashion retailer held a high-concept catwalk launch for its Spring range in Paris last week, showcasing the newest fashions to hit its stores. In September last year, the Swedish retail giant confirmed that it would open its first store in Melbourne’s iconic GPO in 2014; today, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that H&M has signed another 10 year lease for a property in Sydney’s Eastern Creek.

Video of the Day

Oporto has taken a rather unconventional approach to winning over customers with a rough, gutter-mouthed and, dare we say, clichéd bunch of characters known as the Carne Cartel. The retail food outlet may have just invented grillsploitation cinema…