Archive Month: August 2018
Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

So you’ve decided to go home.
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It’s a life-changing decision, like quitting smoking, or going on a crash diet – only the results of this one are much less likely to make you a happier person.

The dream has to end some time. Most people won’t stay away travelling their whole lives. Doesn’t matter how much fun you’re having overseas, the money will always run out, or the call of home will become too strong, and you’ll book in that return flight and prepare to get back to reality.

Here’s a tip: expect it to suck.

Week one is an aberration, when visiting home feels as exciting as visiting anywhere else in the world. Everything old is new again – the pubs, the restaurants, the parks, the shops, the company. It’s like you’re still on holidays, only this time your family and friends have come along for the ride.

Your mates buy you drinks, your mum makes you dinner, your clothes all go in the washing machine, and everyone treats you like a bit of a rock star for the simple fact that you’ve decided to grace them with your presence.

If you’re smart enough you might be able to make this feeling last a couple of weeks, spacing out your catch-ups with friends and family.

Inevitably, however, it will all go off the rails. It will start with this sneaking suspicion that although all of your friends are making a good show of being happy to see you, they couldn’t give the remotest toss about what you’ve been up to for the last however many years.

They might patiently look at a few of your photos and smile at the appropriate times, but really, they don’t care. You’ve had a fantastic holiday, they haven’t. Time to move on. Did you see DJs is having a sale?

Then there’s the following soul-crushing conversation that you’ll have with pretty much everyone:

You: “So, what have you been up for to the last ‘x’ years?”

Friend: “Um… Nothing really.”

And that’s when you’ll realise that that is pretty accurate. Nothing much has happened. In one sense your old home feels like a different place – everyone has a tattoo now; people are activating their food; Brynne Edelsten is a celebrity – but on the other hand, it’s all still exactly the same.

Your friends are the same. The only thing that might have changed if you’re as old and creaky as me is that they’ve all gone and got married and started popping out infants. They’ll look at your madcap overseas adventures as kind of quaint and insignificant.

Most other things are the same as well. Those pubs and restaurants and parks and shops are the same ones you decided to get away from in the first place. All those things you looked forward to – the Vegemite on toast, the nights relaxing on the couch, the catch-ups with friends, the trips to the beach – won’t seem quite as exciting once you’ve ticked them off the list the first time.

It’s at this point that you’ll start to yearn for life on the road again. For me what you’ll miss most is the excitement of daily uncertainty, the not knowing exactly where you’ll be going today, or who you’ll be meeting, or if you’ll even be able to order your dinner without some colossal balls-up caused by the language barrier.

At home, you know that tomorrow you’ll be at home. And the next day you’ll be at home. And the day after that you’ll be at home. No random adventures. No chance meetings. Just home.

Oh, and you need to find a job.

Before long that will happen and you’ll be mired once again in the reality of home life: work five days, take two off, and repeat.

The good news, however, is that the depression over this less-than-ideal situation will subside over time. You’ll slip back into the routine of home; it will get better. It will all start to just feel normal again.

If it doesn’t… Well, you know what to do.

Have you recently come home from a long overseas trip? What was it like? How did you cope?

[email protected]南京夜网

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Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

The retail boxed copies of Windows 8 Pro and Windows 7 Pro. The former requires a previous installation of Windows. With Windows 7 the upgrade-only version, left, was clearly marked “Upgrade” on the box.
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Boxed copies of Windows 8 are “misleading” customers and breach consumer law, according to a formal complaint filed by an Australian consumer that has received support from consumer group Choice.

The complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) comes as Microsoft announced in the US on Tuesday that it had sold 40 million Windows 8 licences – a strong result despite some retailers and analysts reporting slow sales.

Microsoft only sells the “upgrade” version of Windows 8 Pro in Australia at major retailers, meaning you must have an existing copy of Windows installed on your machine first. Users cannot install it on a freshly formatted hard drive or a PC they’ve built themselves without an existing Windows installation.

With Windows 7, the upgrade version was clearly labelled on the box as an “upgrade” and text explained that prior versions of Windows were required.

But there are no equivalent markings on the Windows 8 Pro packaging.

Microsoft confused matters further in its press release, saying Windows 8 Pro would be available off-the-shelf as a “full packed product”. However, at the launch event in October, it clarified that the boxed copies in stores in Australia were upgrades only.

John Hollow believes the packaging leads consumers to believe they are buying the full version, and has complained to the ACCC, alleging “misleading and deceptive representation of the product”.

“I’m not after or anti-Microsoft, I just want to see them do the right thing, and in my mind, they’ve crossed the line,” Hollow said in an email.

Consumer group Choice has backed Hollow’s assessment.

“Certainly [there is] potential for consumers to be confused and possibly even misled, thinking that this is a full product rather than an upgrade,” said Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just.

Choice said the average consumer would not necessarily know the product was an upgrade version, based on just the price ($69.99 in stores, $39.99 as a digital download).

“It’s almost like a reverse ‘up-sell’ – giving you the fries and then asking if you would like a burger with your purchase,” said Just.

“At the very least, Microsoft should have a sticker on their box clearly marking it as an upgrade only.”

But Daniel Tagg of distributor Altech says he believes consumers were not misled because the retailers label the product as an upgrade on their catalogues and websites.

The only way to buy the full version is to get the non-boxed OEM disc from smaller specialist computer stores. OEM versions are only supposed to be sold with PCs built from scratch (or individual hardware components) bought from specialist PC retailers, but this isn’t strictly enforced.

The ACCC does not comment on whether it is investigating companies. A Microsoft Australia spokesman said: “We’re aware of the matter and will work with the ACCC on any concerns.”

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Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

Major operation: Analysts say Australia’s Ramsay Health Care may look to the UK’s National Health Service market to bolster earnings.The biggest shake-up in the history of Britain’s state-run health service is poised to entice Australia’s Ramsay Health Care to pursue its largest deal.
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Ramsay, based in Sydney, faces slowing profit growth as it runs out of room to expand in Australia. The private hospital operator more than doubled net income in the past three years, making it the fastest growing healthcare provider valued at $1 billion or more in the developed Asia-Pacific region, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Now, analysts expect earnings to rise no more than 13 per cent in each of the next three years.

As the UK’s National Health Service refers more patients to private providers in an effort to cut costs, Ramsay may look to that market to bolster earnings, said Wilson HTM Investment Group. While UK hospitals generate the company’s highest profit margins, the unit only accounts for 14 per cent of sales. London-based Spire Healthcare, which may fetch $1.9 billion in a takeover, and BMI Healthcare are both potential targets, said Deutsche Bank. That would surpass Ramsay’s top deal – the $1.1 billion purchase of Affinity Health.

“They have capacity to do a sizeable acquisition,” Derek Jellinek, an analyst at CIMB Group Holdings in Sydney, said. “It’s just a matter of time. The growth has been so strong for so long that they need ‘ex-Oz’ growth to support what has become, as a business, a sizeable entity.”

Carmel Monaghan, a Brisbane-based spokeswoman for Ramsay, declined to comment beyond the company’s annual report.

Psychiatric Facility

“Our UK business is well placed to capture future growth in NHS volumes,” Ramsay said in the report, released last month. “While we are interested in expanding in the UK given our success in this country, we will only progress opportunities that meet our investment criteria.”

Formed in 1964 when Paul Ramsay converted a guest house in northern Sydney into a 16-bed psychiatric facility, the company now has a market value of $5.27 billion and runs 116 hospitals and clinics in Australia, Indonesia, France and the UK.

Profit rose to $244.1 million in fiscal 2012 from $106.5 million in the year ended June 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The 129 per cent increase is the most of any healthcare services provider in the developed Asia-Pacific region, with a market value surpassing $1 billion, the data show.

Budget Cuts

Ramsay has room to borrow for a takeover, said David Low, an analyst at Deutsche Bank in Sydney. The company’s net debt-to-equity ratio, a measure of indebtedness, has fallen by more than half since June 2009.

“Now is the time to be looking,” Low said. “They’ve got the balance sheet. Opportunities in Australia are limited. The NHS is under pressure. They will increasingly rely on the private sector to provide services.”

Most Profitable Already

Patients referred by the NHS to Ramsay-run UK hospitals rose 11 per cent in the 12 months ended June, swelling the proportion of those admissions to more than 65 per cent of Ramsay’s UK total. That was up from 44 per cent in the year ended June 2009, according to Ramsay filings.

The UK business generated an operating margin, before rent, of 25 per cent in the latest 12-month period, Ramsay said. Australia and three hospitals in Indonesia still accounted for 74 per cent of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and rent. The company had an overall Ebitda margin of 15 per cent.

“It does make sense for them to replicate what they have,” said Shane Storey, an analyst at Wilson HTM in Brisbane. “Good facilities attract good surgeons. Good surgeons get good outcomes. Good outcomes mean patients are out of hospital faster. That improves profitability.”

Ramsay ranked No. 5 among private healthcare providers in the UK, with an 8.8 per cent share of the market in 2010, the country’s Office of Fair Trading said in a report in April 2012. General Healthcare Group, owner of BMI, was first with 24 per cent and Spire ranked second with 18 per cent of the market.

Rising Referrals

The NHS is the UK’s second-biggest buyer of private healthcare, and the number of NHS patients treated in private facilities has more than doubled in the past four years, Britain’s Office of Fair Trading said.

This business is making up for a stagnant market for private healthcare in the UK, which exited a double-dip recession in the third quarter, according to CIMB’s Jellinek. While private patients pay higher fees, referrals from the state-funded NHS, which pays private providers such as Ramsay for treatment, are increasing at a sufficient pace to compensate for lower profitability, said Jellinek.

The most logical target for Ramsay is Spire, which is owned by private-equity firm Cinven, according to Deutsche Bank’s Low. BMI, the UK’s largest private hospital group, is also a possible target, though less likely, he said.

Largest Deal

If Ramsay paid £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion), or about nine times Spire’s Ebitda, the acquisition would boost fiscal 2015 earnings per share by 12 per cent, Low wrote in a November 8 report.

That depends on Ramsay leaving the hospital properties themselves with Cinven and extracting cost savings, Low wrote.

Spire, bought by Cinven in 2007 for £1.58 billion, runs 37 hospitals and nine clinics and generated sales of £674 million in 2011, according to Cinven. BMI runs 69 UK hospitals and treatment sites, its website says.

A takeover of Spire would be Ramsay’s largest. It has spent $1.81 billion on 10 purchases since 2001. The biggest was the $1.1 billion takeover in 2005 of Affinity Health in Australia.

Still, there’s no guarantee referrals will continue to be directed to private healthcare providers under new UK law, said Piers Ricketts, a London-based healthcare partner at KPMG.

“This in theory will bring considerable opportunities for the private sector, but in practice you’d have to be bold to bet on massive growth,” he said. “Spire would be a bridgehead, but a very expensive way of acquiring additional capacity.”

Competition Report

Ramsay would find an advantage in the strong Australian dollar, which is up 53 per cent against the pound since November 2007, when Ramsay bought Capio’s English hospitals, said David Stanton, an analyst at Nomura Holdings in Sydney.

“The Aussie is strong and you need critical mass in a new geography to derive synergies,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s why they’re looking.”

Ramsay may also find an opportunity to strike a deal while the UK Competition Commission investigates the local private healthcare market, said Deutsche Bank’s Low.

With a provisional ruling due by June and a final report expected by March 2014, Ramsay may be able to buy assets at a discount with little chance of being undermined by the final report, he said.

“I wouldn’t see it as an extraordinary risk if they went down that path,” he said. “They might move now in the hope of extracting a better price.”

Bloomberg

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Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

DIning out … Alan Joyce. left, and Geoff Dixon used to dine together regularly.The country’s premier tourism body has become a casualty of the bitter feud between Qantas boss Alan Joyce and his former mentor Geoff Dixon after the airline withdrew its financial support for Tourism Australia.Parting of the ways for the sorcerer and his apprentice
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In suspending its 40-year partnership with Tourism Australia, Qantas has accused Mr Dixon – who is the tourism body’s chairman – of being part of a group of investors committed to “unravelling Qantas’s structure and direction”.

The loose group of investors, which also includes Sydney money man Mark Carnegie, former Qantas executive Peter Gregg and advertising guru John Singleton, has been garnering support from large shareholders and unions for a change in strategic direction at the de facto national carrier.

In a major escalation of the stand-off, Mr Joyce wrote to the federal Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, late on Monday to advise him of its decision to suspend the relationship with Australia’s peak tourism body because of a “potential conflict of interest of the agency’s chairman”.

Mr Dixon, who is a former Qantas chief executive, declined to comment today.

Qantas said the conflict had arisen from Mr Dixon’s involvement with “a syndicate that is actively canvassing fundamental changes to the Qantas Group strategy, including the proposed partnership with Emirates”.

The airline has a three-year marketing deal worth about $44 million with Tourism Australia.

Qantas has made clear that Mr Dixon will have to step down from his role or cease being part of the rival group before it will resume its dealings with Tourism Australia.

It will divert the money it spends on tourism marketing to state-based bodies.

The breakdown in the relationship between Mr Joyce and Mr Dixon has attracted more interest than usual because the pair had been so close. Not only did Mr Dixon back Mr Joyce to be his successor in 2008, but he chose him to be the inaugural chief executive of Qantas’s budget offshoot, Jetstar.

Until late last year, the pair met frequently at some of Sydney’s finest eateries.

Mr Joyce will front an aviation industry gathering in Sydney at midday today where he is expected to face questions about the agitation strategy being pursued by the group of investors and his decision to suspend the relationship with Tourism Australia.

Despite the decision to suspend the arrangement, a Qantas spokesman said the airline remained committed to supporting Australian tourism. “Rather than providing this support through the federal agency, Qantas will instead look to do so through the states,” he said.

The suspension includes both Qantas and its budget offshoot Jetstar but the spokesman said that in order to avoid penalising the tourism industry it would not include some key initiatives already under way.

The group of well-connected businessman has taken a stake of about 1.5 per cent in the airline as part of a plan to eventually gain seats on the board and agitate for a major change in its strategic direction.

Last week Mr Joyce sought to quell any nerves among his senior managers about the agitation from the high-profile group of investors. He told them in an email that the board had “every confidence” in management’s five-year plan to improve the airline’s fortunes.

“Rumours about this type of agitation have been doing the rounds for many months. We have not received any formal or informal approaches regarding a takeover. And I have no intentions of supporting any private equity bid,” Mr Joyce said in the email.

“No doubt your teams will have questions and concerns as these rumours escalate. I ask for your support reassuring them that our strategy is the right one.”

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Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

The carnage in the retail sector has created an opportunity for JB Hi-Fi, which said it plans to bring its low-cost business model to the homewares market and offer whitegoods, cooking and small appliances.
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JB Hi-Fi chief executive Terry Smart said the company was attracted to the area after seeing the consolidation in the home appliances category ‘‘as companies with less efficient and higher cost bases struggle to remain relevannt and competitive’’.

He said the company’s low-cost business model means it is ‘‘well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity’’.

The strategy will pitch JB Hi-Fi more directly against Gerry Harvey’s retail operation, Harvey Norman, which has backed itself to remain the last man standing as rivals go out of business.

Mr Harvey has said conditions remain tough and predicted more players will go bust in the new year

The market has reacted negatively to the announcement, with JB Hi-Fi shares falling 6.4 per cent – 68 cents – to $10.01.

The new “Home” concept stores, will initially be located at JB Hi-Fi’s larger homemaker sites where it sees the new category as a logical extension to its current entertainment categories.

Harvey Norman has re-aligned its business to try and focus more on its homeware categories due to the massive price deflation across electronic goods like televisions and computers.

JB Hi-Fi, which is focused heavily on electronics, has also suffered but still retains the favour of brokers due to the efficiency of its business model and plans for store expansion.

Mr Smart said the company still had a “significant amount of growth ahead of us as we continue our store rollout program”. He said the company believed the strength of its brand can be further leveraged to capture some of the $4 billion home appliances market.

“Today we have existing supplier relationships, buyers, merchandising capability and most importantly passionate and skilled appliance sales staff, all gained through eight years of operating the Clive Anthony stores,” Mr Smart said.

The company said it will start with a “low-risk and measured” trial in Queensland with the initial conversion of four homemaker centre stores with minimal capital expenditure required. A successful trial will see the concept implemented at other sites around the country.

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Aug 30 , 2018 / By :

Australian fashionistas have embraced global brands including Zara.ANALYSIS
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International brands like to make as big a splash as possible when they enter a new market.

Global retailers entering the Australian market in the past couple of years, such as Zara and Topshop, have arrived with great fanfare, and their opening day queues days suggest Australian fashionistas are embracing them enthusiastically.

Now, an examination of debit and credit card spending data conducted by retail analysts Andrew McLennan and Sam Teeger at the Commonwealth Bank has provided some insight into just how popular the new entrants are.

The data is also putting some colour around which kinds of retailers are losing traction as a result – and there are few surprises.

The CBA analysts looked at the spending patterns of 3.5 million consumers at 135 fashion retailers, which they divided into nine categories based on product mix and price point.

They found that two of the nine categories – pure play online retailers and new international players – were sprinting ahead of the overall market. In the six months to September 2012, pure plays had enjoyed year-on-year sales growth of 42 per cent while the internationals had experienced 32 per cent growth.

And despite the fact that fashion retail has been in the throes of a weak recovery in recent months, it has not been enough to buoy everyone. High-end fashion was doing OK but low- and middle-market apparel were going backwards.

The CBA report confirmed one other important thesis as well – that members of the under-30 age group are responsible for more than 50 per cent of fashion spending and it is these consumers who are really the motor for sales at the global retailers.

Although CBA didn’t include department stores and discount department stores in its analysis, the meaning of the data should not be lost on them.

Put bluntly, the mid-market jack-of-all-trades fashion retailers that clothed baby boomers and Gen Xers now have a bleak future unless they both downsize and reposition. Their loudly trumpeted strategy of shifting sales online is a fine one for protecting short-term market share. In the long run they will have to be downsized or repositioned.

But this requires leadership that is not so invested in the fiction of growth that it can make some bold moves. The store counts for at least three of Australia’s biggest chains – Myer, David Jones and Target – look way too high for market demand either now or in the future. Arguably, Kmart and Big W are in the same boat although they are not so fashion-oriented.

As more international retailers pile into the Australian market something has to give.

Unless, of course, that all-important millennial fashion shopper suddenly discovers the error of her ways and realises that she really does prefer to shop where her gran and grandpa did.

Michael Baker is principal of Baker Consulting and can be reached at [email protected]南京夜网 and www.mbaker-retail南京夜网.

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