Retailbiz Roundup for Wednesday 15 January 2014 – with Patrick Avenell
Today's ASX results are here

It’s been 14 months since the Federal Government implemented plain packaging for tobacco products and the black market for these products has surged to its highest ever point, 13.3 per cent, leading to the various states governments investigating ways to combat this activity. 

The Victorian Government today announced that the penalty for selling illicit tobacco products, such as packs carrying branding, will be increased four-fold to $34,600 for an individual and $173,200 for a business. 

This news was immediately welcomed by legitimate retailers. 

“We support any measure that cracks down on the black market trade of tobacco, a market that has increased exponentially since the introduction of plain packaging and continues to flourish as a result of the relentless excise increases on legal tobacco products,” said Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores. 

“The illicit trade of tobacco significantly impacts the retailers of legal tobacco products, particularly small businesses, which suffer a critical loss of income.” 

Rogut called on the other state and territory governments to implement similarly tough penalties, as did supplier British America Tobacco Australa. 

“We’re hopeful the other states and territories will now take a much tougher stance on illegal cigarettes and chop chop by raising fines as high as Victoria,” said spokesperson Scott McIntyre. “The majority of the 25,000 retailers around the country are doing the right thing, but there are many who are breaking the law and every effort needs to be made stop them.”

Click here to sign up for RetailBiz's free daily newsletter

Adelaide-based tile and bathroom-ware retailer Beaumont Tiles, which operates 97 stores nationwide, is aggressively targeting the Sydney market, announcing a new $11 million distribution centre to be located at Huntingwood, in the city’s outer west. 

This facility will service Beaumont’s 18 New South Wales stores, tradespeople and building professionals, according to COO Danny Casey. 

“It’s an ecologically sustainable design in keeping with our own green ethos,” Casey said. “It will be a one-stop shop for tradespeople in the Greater West with a full range of glues, grouts, cleaners, tools, saws and cutters and our wide range of tiles and pavers.”   

The new facility has been developed by Goodmans and built by Prime Constructions. Managing director Bob Beaumont said this move was a “vote of confidence” for the retailing sector. 

Industrial relations law firm Justitia has released its predictions of the top issues affecting workplaces in 2014. Among them are new workplace bullying laws, gender equality, insecure employment and unconscious bias. 

“An unchecked unconscious bias in an organisation’s management team can result in a failure to recognise high-potential employees or even lucrative business opportunities.  Rather than absorb the risk posed by unconscious bias in the workplace, some organisations are choosing to tackle the problem with radical new measures,” says Justitia’s report that you can read in full here.  

Following Monday’s story regarding newsagents taking on Australia Post over new agreements, Australia Post has issued the following statement: 

“The clauses disputed by the Newsagents Association of NSW and ACT are not new and have been in the relevant agreements since inception. Agents or Postpoint operators make a commercial decision to accept these arrangements and can opt out of these agreements with minimal notice should they choose to do so.” 

eTail Asia is coming up in Singapore on 11-13 March 2013. Speakers include Harvey Norman head of digital Gary Wheelhouse and Amazon China VP of marketing Brian Hui, along with speakers from Facebook, Samsung and Zalora. This conference is all about how business can drive traffic and increase conversion through their transactional website. 

“Online is shit — there is no money online.” Athan Papoulias refused to blame online rivals for Designer Homeware’s liquidation. Appliance Retailer has the full story on what he does blame

Target has signed on as the naming rights sponsor of the National Graduate Showcase (presented by Target), a showcase of the next generation of Australian designers and a popular part of Melbourne Fashion Week, which runs 17-23 March 2014.  

“With over 300 stores nationwide as well as online shopping, Target is constantly on the lookout for new designer collaboration opportunities to help bring style and quality to our customers at prices they love,” said Target MD Stuart Machin. 

Iconic American suitmaker Brooks Brothers will open its first Australian store in Brisbane next month, inside the David Jones store on Queen Street.  

“David Jones is proud to be the department store exclusive partner of Brooks Brothers and to play a pivotal role in the launch of this distinguished brand,” said David Jones merchandise group executive Donna Player. “Our customers know and love this brand and will be delighted to be able to access it locally.” 

Fairfax reports that this will be the first of seven boutiques across the mainland state capitals. 

German supermarket chain ALDI wants to connect with West Australian suppliers, reports T&L News

“Since 2001, ALDI Australia has made a commitment to the communities in which it operates by offering the Smarter Shopping experience — guaranteed high quality products at incredibly low prices every day,” said MD Andrew Starr. “By doing this, we have successfully developed as an organisation, thus resulting in increased employment and growth opportunities for Australian communities.” 

Pie Face and Airport Retail Enterprises have partnered to open a new outlet within the Qantas terminal at Brisbane Airport. You can enjoy a chunky beef before boarding from April 2014. 

Quote of the Day 

“It gave me an immense sense of joy to stand back and watch the room buzzing with activity with so many people sharing the vision I have for connecting product with people.” 

Good360 MD Alison Covington reflects on the efforts by companies including Linen House, Urban Rituelle, 3M and Edible Blooms to connect homeless Australians with ‘corporate waste’

Image of the Day 

At least it is not as bad as this one…