News

24 Jun, 2019
Coca-Cola Amatil reaches gender diversity target
Inside FMCG

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) has reached its target of having 30 per cent of its leadership positions comprised of women, including Board, senior executive and management positions, ahead of its target date of 2020.

CCA group managing director Alison Watkins said that it would still keep challenging itself with more diversity goals that the company will announce in 2020.

It released a 2018-19 report on Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) which shows 34 per cent of its management are female, across its national operations, ahead of Australia’s national average of 23.5 per cent of women in management in manufacturing.[

“Gender diversity in business has shifted from being the ‘right thing to do’ to being the smart thing to do. An extensive 2016 study by Credit Suisse found companies with more female executives deliver stronger market returns. A diverse leadership also brings a wider range of experience and views, leading to stronger decisions,” Watkins said.

“There’s no doubt that gender diversity is particularly important in FMCG, with women comprising many of our customers and influencing over 80% of consumer purchasing. So there’s plenty of good social and commercial reasons to pursue gender diversity, and we’re proud to have reached the milestones outlined in this year’s WGEA report.”

Watkins said Amatil still has more to do to urge women to pursue leadership roles in management and in sales.

“Line management roles are critical in generating the CEO’s and senior leaders of the future. Boards generally look for potential leaders with direct experience in running commercial operations, and that includes line management in areas like supply chain and sales,” added Watkins.

“Presently only one in four of Amatil’s line managers are female, so there’s work to be done in encouraging more of our extremely talented women to step up.”

CCA has several projects for women including the Acceleration and Empowerment program in Indonesia; the Women in Warehousing program with Workskil Australia and The David Gonski Women in Leadership program.

24 Jun, 2019
Kaufland gets to work on $255 million distribution centre
Inside FMCG

Retail giant Kaufland Australia has kicked off construction of it’s $255 million  
state-of-the-art distribution centre in Mickleham, Victoria.

The 117,000+ square metre facility, which will be one of the largest in Australia, will include 130 loading docks and will incorporate the latest technologies in automation, sustainability and efficiency. 

Kaufland Australia said the facility will create 600 new jobs for the area. 

At a sod turning ceremony, Kaufland Australia directors, Maximilian Wiedmann and Patrick Bezner, thanked Hume City Council for their work ensuring the centre met all planning and approval requirements. 

“Australia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and we are excited to grow with it,” Wiedmann said. 

“Our Distribution Centre will be the beating heart of our supply chain and will ensure we provide an uncompromising quality food shop for our customers.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped us achieve this exciting milestone. To Hume City Council, to our construction partner, Vaughan, and to Merrifield Business Park, we are very grateful and proud to be standing alongside you today,” Wiedmann added.

In March, the hypermarket received approval of its first three stores in Victoria at Dandenong, Epping and Chirnside Park in Victoria and recently received planning approval for two sites in South Australia.

Following the approval of its first South Australian store in Prospect in April, acting Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Tim Whetstone, said the company’s investment was a “vote of confidence in South Australia’s burgeoning economy”.

“To have a company of Kaufland’s international standing choose to establish itself in South Australia speaks volumes for their confidence in the state’s economy and will continue to build on the momentum we’ve seen in the past 12 months,’’ Minister Whetstone said.

24 Jun, 2019
Vinomofo looks beyond bulk orders
Inside FMCG

Vinomofo is thinking outside the box to give new customers a better first experience with the brand. 

The online wine retailer last week launched a ‘welcome kit’, including a three-pack of red, white or mixed wine, as well as a magazine filled with articles, advice and recipes that explain what Vinomofo is all about. 

The kit is like a physical manifestation of the welcome email that most online retailers send. But while digital versions typically include a discount for the next purchase, or a call-to-action to sign up for the loyalty program, Vinomofo’s welcome kit is all about introducing customers to the culture and ethos of the brand. 

“The idea came about during a session we had exploring how to deliver a more beautiful and complete welcome experience,” Justin Dry, Vinomofo co-founder and CEO, told Inside Retail. 

“It was important to us that this was simple and elegant but clearly represented who we are and the why and how of what we do.”

The company has made a name for itself by offering great wine at low prices, which it makes possible by buying large volumes from growers. Customers typically are required to buy six or 12 bottles of the same vintage to access the enticing per bottle discount that Vinomofo advertises. 

For some customers, however, this is a significant investment they may not be confident making online. For others, they simply don’t know the ins and outs of how Vinomofo works. The welcome kit, which costs $69 and up, aims to tackle both issues. 

“We know that once someone has tried Vinomofo, they’re very likely to stay, so if we can remove as many barriers as possible, it’s a good thing,” Dry said. 

“However it’s mostly about delivering a beautiful experience for our new mofos and introducing them to who we are and what we do.”

Vinomofo recently appointed its first employee in Singapore. Michael Parmeter has been appointed general manager, and will look after ground operations, strategic growth, merchandise and local area marketing. 

The country represents a strong growth market for Vinomofo, which also operates in New Zealand, and is looking to launch in the US in the near future. 

Dry said that Vinomofo has achieved its goal of returning to profitable growth in FY19, and will be looking to accelerate its global growth again in FY20.

24 Jun, 2019
Metcash CEO says rate cuts will help
Financial Review

Metcash chief executive Jeff Adams expects that interest rate cuts will begin to reverse some softness in the hardware market that's crimped the performance of its Mitre 10 and Home Timber and Hardware division in the first seven weeks of its new financial year.

Metcash shares tumbled 9 per cent in late morning trade on Monday to $2.86. The company suffered a drop in earnings before interest and tax of 3 per cent to $183 million from its core grocery wholesaling operations. They supply mainly dry groceries to 1600 IGA stores, and faces an uphill battle against the might of bigger players Coles and Woolworths, which are heavily pruning costs.

The company on Monday said sales in hardware in the first seven weeks of 2019-2020 were lower than the same time a year ago after it lost a major customer in Queensland and suffered a slowdown in trade sales, which make up 65 per cent of the hardware business.

But Mr Adams said there had been a hint of more optimism emerging in the aftermath of the federal election result, and he expected that interest rate cuts would help this temporary softness in hardware.

"The retailers themselves seem quite confident there will be some recovery,'' Mr Adams said on Monday.

Citi analyst Bryan Raymond has a ''sell'' rating on Metcash and a 12-month price target of $2.45 on the stock. He said the result was about 3 per cent below concensus forecasts and cash flow realisation was below expectations.

Mr Adams signalled that Metcash would be vigorous in a cost-cutting approach which aimed to slice out a further $50 million from across all of its businesses in 2019-2020 and 2020-21.

"It's coming from all over the place,'' Mr Adams said.

Like-for-like sales in the supermarekts business fell 0.5 per cent over the year, a slight improvement on the 0.9 per cent drop in the previous year.

The liquor business managed a 1.3 per cent rise in EBIT to $71.2 million.

The hardware operations lifted EBIT by 17.2 per cent to $81.2 million as synergies were captured from the Home Timber & Hardware acquisition. Total sales in hardware were down 0.9 per cent to $2.1 billion. Mr Adams said it was too early to say if the declines in house prices would feed in to a reduction in Do-It-Yourself activity this financial year.

Total sales across Metcash rose 1.8 per cent to $12.7 billion. The company swung to $193 million net profit after tax from a $148 million loss a year earlier.

Metcash will pay a 7¢ per share final dividend on August 7.

Mr Adams, a former executive with British supermarket giant Tesco, took the helm 15 months ago. He has put in place a strategy of trying to chase sales growth by spending $300 million over five years buying and refurbishing stores, opening small stores and ramping up digital investment to cater for increasing demand for convenience by time-poor consumers.

Metcash has cut costs by about $125 million over the past three years. The $50 million target for the next two years is on top of that.

Mr Adams said the food operations private label brand Community Co had been making solid inroads, with 280 products now in the stable.

The first of a new format of smaller IGA Express stores with a big emphasis on take-home meals known as The Fresh Pantry opened in Bondi in Sydney in May, as part of a trial of 10 of those stores.

Finding the right sites was a challenge, Mr Adams said.

"We're moving as fast as we can on those,'' he said.

24 Jun, 2019
Kaufland gets to work on $255 million distribution centre
Inside FMCG

Retail giant Kaufland Australia has kicked off construction of it’s $255 million 
state-of-the-art distribution centre in Mickleham, Victoria.

The 117,000+ square metre facility, which will be one of the largest in Australia, will include 130 loading docks and will incorporate the latest technologies in automation, sustainability and efficiency.

Kaufland Australia said the facility will create 600 new jobs for the area.

At a sod turning ceremony, Kaufland Australia directors, Maximilian Wiedmann and Patrick Bezner, thanked Hume City Council for their work ensuring the centre met all planning and approval requirements.

“Australia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and we are excited to grow with it,” Wiedmann said.

“Our Distribution Centre will be the beating heart of our supply chain and will ensure we provide an uncompromising quality food shop for our customers.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped us achieve this exciting milestone. To Hume City Council, to our construction partner, Vaughan, and to Merrifield Business Park, we are very grateful and proud to be standing alongside you today,” Wiedmann added.

In March, the hypermarket received approval of it’s first three stores in Victoria at Dandenong, Epping and Chirnside Park in Victoria and recently received planning approval for two sites in South Australia.

Following the approval of its first South Australian store in Prospect in April, acting Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Tim Whetstone, said the company’s investment was a “vote of confidence in South Australia’s burgeoning economy”.

“To have a company of Kaufland’s international standing choose to establish itself in South Australia speaks volumes for their confidence in the state’s economy and will continue to build on the momentum we’ve seen in the past 12 months,’’ Minister Whetstone said.

 

18 Jun, 2019
The class divides shaping Coles new strategy
Financial Review

Forget the grocery price war. Coles Group chief executive Steve Cain is hoping on growth by capitalising on the supermarket class war apparently becoming more pronounced in Australia.

Well, class war might be a bit strong. But there’s no doubt that a key part of Cain's new strategy reset, announced on Tuesday, is the recognition that a sort of two-tiered society – or perhaps even a four-tiered society, when you dig into the new Coles world view – is a reality.

Coles says those in the suburbs have had very little wage growth and live with high debt levels. But the top 30 per cent segment of customers (those earning +$100,000 a year) is growing faster than the market.

And after focusing rigidly (and successfully) on lower prices for most of the last decade, Cain makes no secret that Coles wants to win back these more-affluent customers.

So Cain’s strategy sees four store formats being rolled out in new builds and store refurbishments.

For customers in the mid-to-high affluence demographic – think the suburbs somewhere about 15 kilometres from the city – there will a premium offer, with a focus on “foodie” ranges and convenience.

Store format B is aimed at the middle class, medium-affluence customers in the middle ring of the suburbs. This will be the standard Coles format.

Door 3 is for what Coles calls mid-low affluence customers in the outer suburbs. This will be a low cost, self-service model. Coles says these are low-volume stores that are under the most pressure from online. A case of poorer shoppers looking after themselves?

The final option will be fewer in number but deliver greater profitability. The Coles Local format is aimed at Australia’s wealthiest citizens, and will be a premium offer focused on health, (high-margin ranges like vitamins but also a growing range of products for those with allergies and intolerances) fresh food and convenience.

“We’ve got to be very conscious that is a group of customers that we need to target if we are to grow effectively,” Cain told investors, adding there could be a 40 per cent difference in the range between one store format and another.

Coles has, of course, always tailored its offers to some extent. But there is no doubt what Cain calls the "a tale of two cities" in Australian society, which he more politely describes as the split between those chasing value and those who are demanding increased convenience,  is forcing Coles to confront these new demographics in a more deliberate way.

Using data more effectively to tailor the Coles’ offer both in stores and particularly online (where personalisation is possible) will be crucial to boosting sales and cutting costs.

This fragmenting of the market is why Cain has set goals for his new strategy that are - at first glance - rather modest.

Delivering long-term revenue growth at least in line with market growth isn’t going to excite anyone. Increasing capital expenditure to target returns in excess of the cost of capital will be seen by most as business as usual. Targeting strong cash generation and an attractive dividend payout ratio isn’t a goal, it’s a must.

But this is the new reality that Cain and his investors face. Not only is the consumer base splitting, but it's also moving online, where growth is close to profitless.

So his most important goal - and certainly the one that sent Coles shares 6 per cent higher on Tuesday morning - is slashing $1 billion of costs by 2023.

Cain plans to combat wage costs that are moving ahead of comparable sales growth, and rising energy prices, by using technology to rip costs – and, to no small degree, humans, out of stores and the supply chain.

Part of this is the giant new automated warehouses that Coles will spend a bit under $1 billion to build over the next five years. But there will also be greater of automation of manual tasks in stores, better labour planning tools, technology to reduce stealing and the use of artificial intelligence in how Coles marks prices down.

Supply chain modernisation and automation - including via the deal Coles signed earlier this year with robot-powered online shopping specialist Ocado- will also be crucial to eking out and then expanding profits from online sales.

So if three of the four goals from Cain’s new strategy look modest, the scope of the strategy is actually pretty ambitious.

Over the next five years, Cain must reset Coles’ cost base, modernise its supply chain, transform its store formats and shift its product range such that better-margin private label products increase by a third, to 40 per cent of total sales.

It’s a huge challenge, and one that won’t probably much do more than let Coles hold its position in a market that is changing rapidly, growing less and becoming less profitable.

18 Jun, 2019
Amcor completes multi-billion dollar Bemis takeover
Inside FMCG

Australian FMCG packaging giant Amcor has completed the multibillion-dollar buyout of major American rival Bemis.

The combined company effective 11 June 2019 will now operate as Amcor plc, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “AMCR” and the Australian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol “AMC.” 

Amcor chief executive Ron Delia described the acquisition as “a significant milestone as two strong companies with histories each dating back over 150 years look forward to one great future”.

“The acquisition of Bemis brings additional scale, capabilities and footprint that will strengthen Amcor’s industry leading value proposition and generate significant value for shareholders,” said Delia.

Amcor manufactures packaging for food, beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, home- and personal-care, and other consumer products. During the 2018 financial year, the multinational generated combined revenues of more than USD $13.4 billion from operations in over 40 countries.

Delia said Amcor is “uniquely positioned to capitalize on shifting consumer preferences, an evolving customer and retail landscape, and the increasing need to develop packaging that best protects the product as well as the environment.”

18 Jun, 2019
Reckitt Benckiser poaches PepsiCo exec for CEO role
Inside FMCG

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser has selected PepsiCo’s 
global chief commercial officer Laxman Narasimhan as its next chief executive, the first external candidate to be appointed CEO of the business since it was formed in 1999. 

Narasimhan is due to take up the CEO role on September 1, replacing 60-year-old Rakesh Kapoor who has been at the helm for over eight years and recently announced his intentions to retire this year.

During his time in charge Kapoor launched a restructuring plan, dubbed RB 2.0, to split the group into two business units, one for health and one for hygiene and home products, under the same parent company.

The maker of Durex condoms, Nurofen tablets and Dettol cleaners said on Wednesday that Narasimhan will be tasked with delivering that plan, due to be completed in 2020.

“I’m delighted to be joining RB as the next Chief Executive Officer at an exciting time for the business,” Narasimhan said in a statement. 

“It is a special company with a long history of outperformance, creating innovative products and iconic brands which improve the health and lives of people across the globe. I’m looking forward to working with an exceptional group of leaders over the coming years to continue to transform RB.”

Chris Sinclair, chairman of the Reckitt Benckiser Board said they are confident in Narasimhan’s abilities to lead the company.

“Laxman has exceptional strategic capabilities and consumer insight with a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands and driving consumer centric and digital innovation, Sinclair said.

“This, combined with his excellent people engagement and leadership skills, gives the Board confidence that he will continue to evolve the strong culture of RB and deliver outperformance.”

The appointment is the latest in a series of external hirings at major consumer goods companies as they change tact to compete with smaller brands that are gaining momentum in the digital marketplace. 

Changes at PepsiCo

PepsiCo announced on Wednesday that the vacant chief commercial officer position will be filled by the company’s Greater China CEO Ram Krishnan.

Prior to his appointment to lead the China side of the business in 2017, Krishnan held successive roles at Frito-Lay and Walmart. 

Commenting on the appointment, PepsiCo chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said, “Ram is a proven leader with deep consumer and customer understanding who also knows how to harness data to drive business growth.”

“Ram understands the importance of competing locally, which has driven his ability to win in both Eastern and Western markets. He is just the kind of competitive, strategic leader we need as PepsiCo continues on our journey to accelerate growth.”

18 Jun, 2019
The Beyond Meat of fish is coming
Financial Review

Chicago | Salmon has become the guinea pig of the seas when it comes to using technology to supplement falling fish populations. Now it's moved onto land - and into the laboratory.

The fatty orange fish was the second-most-consumed seafood in the US in 2017, after shrimp, and per capita consumption increased 11 per cent, to 2.41 pounds (1.09 kg) a person, from the prior year, according to the National Fisheries Institute, an industry group.

Globally, demand for salmon has skyrocketed, along with that for all fish, fuelling overfishing and threatening supply. Industrial-scale salmon farming, once seen as a solution, has its own problems. Massive stocks of smaller fish are depleted to feed farmed salmon, and parasites flourish in salmon pens where farmers use pesticides, contributing to pollution and ecosystem destruction.

Sea lice have infested farms in Norway and Scotland in recent years, and a deadly algae bloom killed salmon in Chile, a top farmed-salmon producer. Farmed fish sometimes escape, too, contaminating nearby wild salmon.

With rising incomes in developing nations driving demand, fish and seafood now account for almost a fifth of the animal protein people consume. Unsurprisingly, the need for a solution to this less-than-virtuous circle has become evident to a growing number of entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The move towards environmentally conscious salmon farming is already under way.

Maynard, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies is hoping its genetically modified "AquAdvantage" version of Atlantic salmon, which it says grows twice as fast, will soon appear in the shopping carts of the environmentally aware. The company says on its website that its product is raised in "land-based production systems" that eliminate the various risks to wild fish, humans and the environment posed by farmed salmon.

"The need and the desire for more farm-raised salmon is growing, and imports are growing, too," said Janice Schreiber, a commodity researcher at Urner Barry. "The market is looking for consistency, and that's where some of these newer lines come in."

But the next chapter of fish production, beyond even land-based farming, is already being written-by scientists. San Francisco-based Wild Type is hoping that, as with the rise of meat substitutes (and their arrival on Wall Street), lab-grown fish won't be far behind.

Or, for that matter, lab-grown sushi.

On a recent Sunday evening in Portland, Oregon, a group of Wild Type employees, investors, chefs, local restaurant owners and friends gathered at Olympia Oyster Bar for the first full-scale service of the company's product, straight from the lab. Chefs Maylin Chavez, Kyle Christy and Rose Ha each served a pair of dishes designed to highlight the novel product.

The chef's imaginations were constrained by the reality of working with a still-in-development food. Wild Type can produce only small pieces of salmon, which become too flaky if heated above 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100C). As a result, all the preparations were either raw or cooked in natural acids, such as citrus juice. (The company says it plans to have a version of the product that can withstand heat in the coming months.)

Highlights of the meal included a perfectly balanced ceviche with avocado, cucumber, katsuobushi, ginger and cilantro; a crudo of cold-smoked salmon with hazelnut butter, lemon, shiso and arugula; and a classic spicy salmon roll.

The Wild Type product absorbed the cold smoking particularly well, an attribute the company plans to leverage as it launches the product commercially. One of the first items will be "smoked salmon," since it's something "people are comfortable with", explained Wild Type co-founder Justin Kolbeck. "We want to start with something that is familiar. We don't want people to find it strange."

The tasting culminated in a sample of the raw product itself. Served in a canning tin, the Wild Type salmon appeared a bit dull, lacking some of the vibrant colour of wild coho. While the texture closely approximated wild fish, the taste, however, was lacking. It wasn't unpleasant, nor unfamiliar. Just faint.

The company hopes to eventually produce full slabs of lab-grown salmon at a competitive retail cost of $US7 to $US8 per pound. But it has a long way to go. Kolbeck estimated that the spicy salmon roll served at this test dinner cost $US200 to produce."The dream vision is the cleanest, purest, freshest salmon, without contaminants or antibiotics, for a price lower than farmed Atlantic salmon," he said.

18 Jun, 2019
Hundreds of jobs to go at Coles
Inside Retail Australia

Supermarket giant Coles is cutting over 400 jobs in a management reshuffle aimed at cutting costs, the Australian Financial Review has reported.

The retailer told staff on Thursday that 450 roles would go at its head office in Melbourne as part of a three-year program to reduce costs and allow for further investment in online and convenience.

The move comes a week after Woolworths announced a restructure of its store operations, resulting in staff at many of its supermarkets facing redeployment or redundancies.

The AFR reported major changes to leadership at Coles with Alister Jordan, chief executive of Coles Express, Coles Online and corporate affairs, and Coles’ chief store operations officer, Paul Bradshaw, to leave the company by the end of this year.

Chief operating officer, Greg Davis, has been appointed chief executive commercial and will take over the running of the petrol and convenience business.

Coles chief supply chain officer Matthew Swindells will move into Davis’ role and will oversee supply chain and store operations.

Last month Coles’ former director of fresh foods Alex Freudmann was announced as the new managing director of Woolworths liquor business, Dan Murphy’s. 

The news comes less than a week out from Coles’ Investor Day in which the retailer is due to share updates on the business.

Inside Retail contacted Coles for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.

14 Jun, 2019
Cannon-Brookes leads big bananas into fruit-tech deal
The Australian Financial Review

We all know Macquarie is big in traditional farming, KKR tried growing tomatoes and Paine & Partners had a good run with Costa Group, and now the smart money is getting in behind a new private farming venture.

And curiously, it is a capital-hungry vertical farming operation that could soon be worth close to $200 million.

Meet Sustenir Agriculture; a pan Asian fruit and vegetable grower that has one vertical farm in Singapore and another due to open in Hong Kong in August.

Sustenir is backed by a bunch of well-known Australian investors including Mike Cannon-Brookes' Grok Ventures, fund managers Perennial Value and Alium Capital, and Vocus Group founder James Spenceley, as well as Singaporean giant Temasek.

It is understood Sustenir's co-founders Martin Lavoo and Benjamin Swan have started readying investors for another funding round - and plan to be in the market with the raising in September.

While the numbers are still moving around, Sustenir is expected to seek to raise $60 million to $70 million in a deal that would value it at more than $160 million. It's a big jump in valuation - the company last raised $50 million at a $78 million post-money valuation when Temasek and Grok bought in.

The pitch is all about sustainable farming in places where farming has not previously been possible. Singapore, for example, has traditionally sourced fruit and vegetables from Malaysia, while Hong Kong gets its produce from China.

Sustenir is trying to change that by using hydroponic techniques to farm inside multi-level buildings. There are offshore companies making a similar play - including Ocado in the United Kingdom, InFarm in Germany and Plenty and Bowery in the United States - but Sustenir seems to be the one attracting investor dollars out of Australia.

 

11 Jun, 2019
WiseTech cranks out fortunes for leaders
Australian Business Review

Richard White’s software logistics firm, WiseTech Global, is the new millionaires’ factory, with the billionaire set to be joined by three other directors and executives among the ranks of Australia’s wealthy elite.

White was ranked 20th on The List- Australia's Richest 250 when it was published by The Australian in late March with wealth of $3.3 billion, a stunning amount given WiseTech (WTC) floated on the ASX with market capitalisation of $1.19bn only four years ago.

He was joined on The List by fellow WiseTech shareholders and non-executive directors Charles Gibbon and Michael Gregg, who had wealth of $470m and $320m respectively.

WiseTech has since gone on another good run, hitting a high of $27.07 late last week, which sees White’s stake in the group reaching about $3.8bn.

At that amount, White now would be behind 15th-placed James Packer’s $4.23bn.

Shares in WiseTech are up 59 per cent since January 1 and have doubled in value since August last year to give the company a market capitalisation of more than $8.5bn. The company last week told the market to expect earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $100m to $105m for this financial year, which reaffirmed previous guidance but still impressed investors.

They are also up from the $20.50 mark the company raised $300m from institutional investors at in March, a raising the Wise­Tech directors also took part in under a share purchase plan.

The share price performance also means the WiseTech trio on The List could be joined by another member of the company’s board, Maree Isaacs.

A WiseTech executive director and also its company director, Isaacs co-founded WiseTech in 1994 with White and has been an executive ever since.

She keeps a low profile and is, according to WiseTech’s annual report, focused on invoicing and licensing, group operations, quality control and administration.

Her connection with White goes back to the 1980s, working with him at the private computer system services and consulting company Real Tech Systems Integration and computer equipment distributor Clear Group.

Isaacs owns 8.17 per cent of Realwise Holdings, the investment vehicle controlled by White which is WiseTech’s biggest shareholder. Her stake is now worth about $305m alone, meaning she is closing in on the $320m cut-off mark to rank among Australia’s richest 250 on The List.

While White owns apartments and office space and data centres in the US that are rented to WiseTech, for which he charged a combined $1.6m for last financial year, he and the wealthy WiseTech group also have a diverse collection of outside investments.

White has a stake in the private audio and lighting group Jands, which had $60m revenue in 2018 from which it made a pre-tax profit of $5.17m. Gibbon, meanwhile, has a small shareholding in a fast-growing and ASX-listed digital audio networking technology company, Audinate Group.

Audinate shares have surged since listing at $1.22 in June 2017, recently hitting a record high of $8.15. The shares are up 124 per cent since January 1 alone.

It raised $20m from institutional investors earlier this month to accelerate global sales and marketing plans and to help develop its Dante software platform. A $4m share purchase plan for existing shareholders at $7 per share opens this week.

Gibbon and Gregg are also founders of a new $50m venture capital fund, Shearwater Growth Equity, formed with entrepreneur and Conversant Media founder Zac Zavos.

The trio have put their own funds into Shearwater, which last month contributed $2.5m of a $6m capital raising round in private fintech start-up Earlytrade. The funding round also reportedly included former Fortescue Metals chief executive Nev Power.

Earlytrade is an online marketplace which connects suppliers with corporate clients and allows them to offer discounts or lower fees for early payment of debts.

Gibbon is a serial investor who was an early stage investor in Conversant Media and also sports media company The Roar, both of which have been sold to the ASX-listed HT&E in recent years. He was also a director of meat processor Monbeef, bought by Japan’s S Foods in March.

He also has investments in start-ups such as radio tracking technology company Wildlife Drones, dental company Emudent Technologies, concert and festival marketing firm Audience Republic and online booking software company Nabooki.

11 Jun, 2019
Canada bans single use plastics, joining Europe and California
Australian Financial Review

Ottawa | Prime Minister said Canada will ban single-use plastic like straws, bags and cutlery by early 2021 to reduce non-recyclable waste and protect the world's oceans.

Trudeau announced the move from the banks of a lake in Gault Nature Reserve in Quebec less than five months before a national election in which climate change and pollution are among the top campaign issues. Only about 10 per cent of plastics are recyled in Canada each year; in Australia the recycling rate is 11.8 per cent, the government says.

"To be honest, as a dad, it's tough trying to explain this to my kids. How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags?" Trudeau said.

"We're at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn't littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That's a problem, one that we have to do something about."

Canada's move follows one by the European Parliament, which voted earlier this year to ban several single-use plastic products, and recent disputes with the Philippines and Malaysia over Canadian waste shipped to them.

California became the first US state to ban single-use plastics in 2014 and has introduced legislation to phase out single-use plastic food containers and other packaging that isn’t recyclable or compostable.

Canadians will throw away an estimated $C11 billion ($11.9 billion) worth of plastic materials each year by 2030 without a change in course, the government said in a statement.

Canada has delayed implementation until 2021 to allow time for a "science-based" decision on exactly which plastics "are harmful to the environment and human health," according to a government statement.

 

'How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags?' says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  AP

It will also give businesses time to adjust.

"The restaurateurs will take a hit, but some of the extra cost will be passed onto consumers, too," said Claudio Fracassi, owner of the Soup Guy Plus restaurant in central Ottawa.

He uses Styrofoam soup cups and plastic utensils, but plans to switch to paper products, which cost more, he said.

"I want to save the environment. I recycle. But I want more choices (of non-plastic products) and the emphasis should be put on the manufacturer," Fracassi said.

Canada may require manufacturers to use a set amount of recycled content, the government said. Also, federal and provincial authorities will work together so that companies, rather than just municipalities, take more responsibility for the recycling process.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business called for an assessment of the economic impacts of the ban.

"If done hastily, this policy could add a whole lot of new red tape to their plates," CFIB President Dan Kelly said in a statement.

Canada recently became entangled in a political dispute with the Philippines over 1500 tons of household waste - mislabeled as recyclable plastics - shipped to Southeast Asia in 2013 and 2014. Canada agreed to take it back last month after a protracted diplomatic spat.

Malaysia similarly said it would return 3000 tons of plastic waste from Canada, the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.

"The issue of plastic pollution will increasingly be seen as an issue for developing countries that feel they are being dumped with waste from rich countries that should be taking care of their own waste internally," said Sara Seck, a Dalhousie University law professor.

11 Jun, 2019
Unilever to acquire Japanese skincare company
Inside FMCG

FMCG multinational Unilever announced on Monday that it will acquire Japanese skincare brand, Tatcha. 

The company, which was founded by Victoria Tsai, is based in the US and has an innovation centre in Japan known as the Tatcha Institute. 

“We are delighted to have Tatcha joining our portfolio of Prestige brands. Inspired by Japanese pure beauty rituals, Tatcha is one of the best performing beauty brands in North America, famous for its exceptional product experience and unique combination of natural ingredients and high product efficacy,” Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever EVP and CEO Prestige, said. 

“Thanks to Vicky’s passion and expertise, iconic products like The Water Cream and The Silk Canvas have become the cornerstone of long-term consumer loyalty. We are really looking forward to working with this amazing team and to continuing to grow the brand globally.”

According to Unilever, Tatcha is a modern skincare brand based in classical Kyoto rituals. It works with scientists in Japan and the US to produce formula made from green tea, rice and algae known as Hadasei-3. The company said Hadasei-3 is “a trinity of anti-aging superfoods born from the Japanese diet and the timeless wonder of Japan for transformative beauty, inside and out.”

“When creating Tatcha, our dream was to make a brand that would live for at least 100 years; that dream can come true in our new home with Unilever. We are overjoyed to have found a parent to grow globally with, and to have a purpose-driven partner to ensure we can have a positive impact in our communities as we grow,” Victoria Tsai, founder of Tatcha said.

Tatcha’s skincare line includes Luminous Dewy Skin Mist, The Silk Canvas primer, The Water Cream moisturizer and The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the transaction is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2019.

 

11 Jun, 2019
Woolworths invests $30 million in Marley Spoon
Inside FMCG

Woolworths is investing $30.05 million in global mealkit company Marley Spoon in a strategic partnership aimed at growing the Marley Spoon and Dinnerly brands. 

The five-year deal includes the purchase of $7 million worth of Marley Spoon shares by Woolworths, equating to a nine per cent stake in the meal kit company.  

Through the partnership Marley Spoon expects to benefit from Woolworths’ industry experience and large customer base and will work with its sourcing and supply chain teams. 

“The partnership gives us access to capital, access to growth and access to synergies,” Fabian Siegel CEO of Marley Spoon told Inside FMCG

“Woolworths has the understanding of a lot of households in Australia and has the trust of a lot of households in Australia and that can help us to grow both Dinnerly and Marley Spoon but we can also [be] more efficient by looking for synergies on the sourcing and logistics side. “

“Woolworths as a shareholder of course would benefit from it as well… also learning how to build an online direct to consumer subscription service… [Woolworths is] quite interested in learning about that.”

Woolworths will gain valuable insights from Marley Spoon’s manufacturing, distribution and market experience in home-delivered meal kits as grocery spending shifts to online. Meal Kits are now the fastest growing category of online grocery sales according to data from research company IBISWorld. 

Siegel describes the two companies as very different businesses and said he is not worried about competition from the supermarket giant.

“The partnership that we’ve agreed to will allow us to continue to operate as independent as in the past; that’s important when a small company works with a very big company. That was part of the ground rules we set in the beginning that there’s really no operational influence whatsoever, Woolworths does not have a Board seat.”

“It’s really about learning from each other, and as a shareholder Woolworths benefits with whatever we come up with in the future. I think that’s a more successful model because otherwise small companies can sometimes be slowed down if larger companies have an influence on the decision making processes.”

Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths Group said the partnership aligns with the supermarket’s goal of meeting customers’ needs for healthy and convenient meal solutions.

“Marley Spoon has demonstrated it has a customer focused, innovative and entrepreneurial culture and we are excited to partner with them,” he said in a statement on Friday. 

Retail expert Associate Professor Gary Mortimer called the strategic partnership “a smart move by Woolworths”.

“Meals Kits are expected to make up 10 per cent of Australia’s online grocery sales industry and turnover around $320 million this year,”  
Mortimer told Inside FMCG

“These types of products attract those consumers who are looking for convenience, but still want to engage in the activity of cooking. It’s more than just ‘groceries in a box’, with most pre-prepared, portioned with fresh sauces and marinades.” 

Mortimer said Woolworths has been proactive when it comes to responding to disruption and change.

“Woolworths stores have already been stocking a similar product in the metro and third generation stores for some time, so this is a natural evolution to grow this category,” he said.

Woolworths recently launch two hour grocery delivery with third party provider Yello, and a restructure of its store model to bring fresh categories to the forefront.

“This demonstrates the supermarket is actively thinking outside the four walls of their stores on customer oriented solutions.”

11 Jun, 2019
Greencross names new CEO, fills out management team
Inside Retail Australia

Three months after de-listing from the ASX and transitioning to a private company, Greencross Limited has hired Bras N Things boss George Wahby to replace Simon Hickey as its new chief executive. 

Wahby has led Bras N Things since 2014, and prior to that, he ran McWilliam’s Wine Group for six years. He will join the pet car retailer in August. 

The company’s current chief executive Simon Hickey will leave the business, with executive chairman Paul Mirabelle serving as acting chief executive until Wahby starts. 

“As Greencross transitions into life as a private company, the board has determined that now is the right time to identify the future generation of leadership and have sought the appointment of a leader to take the business through the next phase of growth,” Mirabelle said in a statement. 

“George has considerable experience building consumer-focused brands, developing new products and growing ominchannel retail experiences – all areas that current owners TPG Capital is looking to invest in.”

Wahby oversaw Bras N Things’ international expansion efforts, and built on like-for-like sales and earnings growth in the Australian market.

“The board would like to thank Simon Hickey for his significant contribution to the company since he joined,” TPG Capital head of Australia and New Zealand Joel Thickins said. 

“Simon has led the business through a challenging trading environment, successfully navigated Greencross into private ownership and positioned Australasia’s largest integrated consumer facing pet care company for ongoing success.”

Wahby isn’t the only management change, with several more appointments made in the shift to private ownership. 

Andrew McInerny will serve as the group’s chief operating officer of veterinary services, having formerly held the role of chief operating officer of chief operation officer of national home doctor services. 

Scott Charters will re-join Greencross on June 3, taking up the role of chief operating officer of retail. Charters previously held management positions at Pet Barn and Greencross between 2011 and 2016. 

The business also appointed a new chief people and culture officer in Chris Lamb, replacing the outgoing Vince Pollaers, as of July 1.

6 Jun, 2019
Woolworths plans store restructure and addition of two new departments
Inside FMCG

Woolworths will revamp its store operating model for the first time since 2011, to put a greater focus on fresh food, convenience and customer service to suit changing customer needs. 

The supermarket briefed team members on Wednesday about the implementation of the store model which will see the creation of two new fresh food departments at stores in the coming months.

Fresh Service will manage customer service at the deli, butchery and seafood counters while Fresh Convenience will cover dairy, eggs, pre-pack meat, branded bread and meal solutions.

“Over the last few years our customers’ needs have changed, but the way we have been operating our stores has stayed the same,” Claire Peters, managing director, Woolworths Supermarkets said.

“With customers’ ongoing expectations in fresh, and more shoppers looking for increased convenience, our stores need to deliver the best possible customer experience, every time.”

Peters said the new model will allow team members to be “more customer focused than ever before”.

Last week at the AFGC’s Food & Grocery conference, Woolworths highlighted the need for better convenience offerings for time-poor customers, as well as new and different choices that are good for health, wellbeing and the planet.

While the number of team members required in the new structure will not change, some current roles will be made redundant. Woolworths said in a statement to Inside FMCG that it aims to provide “as many redeployment opportunities as possible”. 

Woolworths will invest more than $10 million in team training and development as part of the restructure and will add Assistant Team Manager roles to facilitate better management progression.

The operating model has already been rolled out across a group of stores in New South Wales, with changes to other stores to be phased in over the coming months.

The supermarket recently revealed plans to further reduce promotions and focus on everyday value in stores in an effort to gain better “price trust” among consumers. 

Shopper feedback revealed that price is the most important element of customer’s trust and is a key area of focus for the retailer.

4 Jun, 2019
Vinomofo looks to the US with Gary Vee partnership
The Sydney Morning Herald

Australian wine startup Vinomofo is looking to the United States after partnering with YouTube entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk to launch his new wine brand Empathy Wines.

Vaynerchuk first got his start in 2006 with his YouTube channel WineLibrary TV and while the topic was wine, Vaynerchuk was using his channel to build the brand of 'Gary Lee'.

The 43-year-old has 2 million subscribers on YouTube and 6 million followers on Instagram, runs media consultancy VaynerMedia and is the author of several best-selling books.

Vaynerchuk says while he is best known for his YouTube presence, he is focused on entrepreneurship and, as an angel investor, backed tech companies including  Facebook, SnapChat and Uber in their early stages.

"Every day now I have been running a business," he says. "It is what I like to do. It would not make me happy being the personality Gary Vee, it's not what I do, I am an entrepreneur."

Vaynerchuk says his latest venture, Empathy Wines, is focused on having empathy for wine producers and consumers by "skipping two layers in the US". The model  is relatively unique in the United States but mirrors Vinomofo's approach of bypassing retailers and sourcing directly from wine makers and producers.

He has raised $2.3 million to launch the new venture, but Vaynerchuk says YouTube will be the main driver of Empathy Wine's success.

"It was remarkably important to put me on the map in the wine world and it continues to be a remarkably important platform for my career in storytelling," he says. "Everything I thought it was back then it has done, it has turned into one of the most important platforms in the world."

Vaynerchuk's YouTube channel was also the platform through which he originally met Vinomofo founders Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier, who started their business as a wine blog.

"We have had a friendship and then it was a very natural transition to have a conversation once we decided to start a direct to consumer web brand," Vaynerchuk says.

He has ambitious plans for Empathy Wines and says demand for the product is strong."I think it is going to be a substantially major wine brand in America and then it will be significant work to build it in to a global brand," Vaynerchuk says. "It will be one of the biggest direct to consumer brands in the price point in America in the next three to four years."

Vinomofo is selling Empathy Wines in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and Dry says he expects to sell out its allocation of 600 to 1000 cases. But the broader benefit from the partnership for Vinomofo is the potential to build its brand globally, particularly in the United States.

"The number of people that have become aware of Vinomofo through this project alone is insane," he says. "Anytime [Vaynerchuk] posts anything, it is seen by half a million people."

Dry says Vinomofo is "growing solidly" having just hit over $60 million in turnover and is back in profitability.

While major investor Blue Sky is experiencing troubles (its parent company collapsed into administration last month), Dry says this does not affect Vinomofo.

"I really feel for the guys going through it as it is obviously challenging and hard and all of those things," he says. "It doesn't have an impact on the operation of Vinomofo or any of their portfolio companies just that holding company. We were invested in through Blue Sky's investment fund which was made up of a whole heap of individual investors. It is business as usual for us but there is going to be noise in the market.

In the meantime Dry hopes Vinomofo's partnership with Vaynerchuk will help open doors for the Australian startup in the United States which he says is "absolutely a focus".

"He is an incredibly influential and connected person in that market," he says. "I will definitely talk to him about our opportunity to launch in that market. I am deep in negotiation at the moment, it depends how that plays out."

4 Jun, 2019
Priceline expands partnership with IRI to deliver improved range
Inside Retail Australia

Market research company IRI announced a significant expansion to its partnership with Priceline on Monday morning which will help the pharmacy deliver an improved range for customers.

Market research company IRI announced a significant expansion to its partnership with Priceline on Monday morning which will help the pharmacy deliver an improved range for customers.

Priceline will use IRI technology to support category management and improve planning and collaboration with supplier partners, which will ultimately lead to improved range, convenience and price for Priceline customers.

“I am very pleased that we are able to announce our expanded partnership with IRI,” David Ginsberg, head of buying for Priceline said in a statement.

“We already have a good understanding of our Priceline customer, however joining forces with a global leader in big data and analytics will allow us to further strengthen our knowledge and, more importantly, improve their experience when shopping in our stores.”

Paul Hinds, managing director Asia Pacific for IRI, said the partnership will find new ways to “delight and engage” Priceline customers.

“This partnership will augment our knowledge and result in better and faster decision making,” Hinds said.

“Together with our supplier partners, we will have a more holistic view of our customers and be able to better anticipate and cover their current and future needs.”

“Fifth straight year of growth”

The partnership comes alongside Roy Morgan research which notes 23.3 per cent of Australian women purchase cosmetics from Priceline – almost double the figure from four years ago. 

In fact, Priceline is beaten only by Supermarkets for market share in the beauty category, which holds 24.9 per cent of the market. 

“The cosmetics industry is a very competitive one with pharmacies and chemists, supermarkets, department stores and discount department stores all vying to increase their share of the market and looking for an edge to retain existing customers and draw in new ones,” Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said. 

“Meanwhile, Priceline is enjoying their fifth straight year of growth in the market, fueled by a hardcore base of 18-24 year olds and a successful use of the growing online channel.”

This age category is Pricelines bread and butter, according to Levine, who notes that almost half (41.5 per cent) of 18-24 year old women who purchased cosmetics in an average six month period did so at Priceline. 

“No other retailers are seeing even close to this level of market power over a particular age group,” Levine said.

4 Jun, 2019
RT-UPS Vinomofo looks to the US with Gary Vee partnership
SMH

Australian wine startup Vinomofo is looking to the United States after partnering with YouTube entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk to launch his new wine brand Empathy Wines.

Vaynerchuk first got his start in 2006 with his YouTube channel WineLibrary TV and while the topic was wine, Vaynerchuk was using his channel to build the brand of 'Gary Vee'.

The 43-year-old has 2 million subscribers on YouTube and 6 million followers on Instagram, runs media consultancy VaynerMedia and is the author of several best-selling books.

Vaynerchuk says while he is best known for his YouTube presence, he is focused on entrepreneurship and, as an angel investor, backed tech companies including  Facebook, SnapChat and Uber in their early stages.

"Every day now I have been running a business," he says. "It is what I like to do. It would not make me happy being the personality Gary Vee, it's not what I do, I am an entrepreneur."

Vaynerchuk says his latest venture, Empathy Wines, is focused on having empathy for wine producers and consumers by "skipping two layers in the US". The model  is relatively unique in the United States but mirrors Vinomofo's approach of bypassing retailers and sourcing directly from wine makers and producers.

He has raised $2.3 million to launch the new venture, but Vaynerchuk says YouTube will be the main driver of Empathy Wine's success.

"It was remarkably important to put me on the map in the wine world and it continues to be a remarkably important platform for my career in storytelling," he says. "Everything I thought it was back then it has done, it has turned into one of the most important platforms in the world."

Vaynerchuk's YouTube channel was also the platform through which he originally met Vinomofo founders Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier, who started their business as a wine blog.

"We have had a friendship and then it was a very natural transition to have a conversation once we decided to start a direct to consumer web brand," Vaynerchuk says.

The number of people that have become aware of Vinomofo through this project alone is insane.

He has ambitious plans for Empathy Wines and says demand for the product is strong."I think it is going to be a substantially major wine brand in America and then it will be significant work to build it in to a global brand," Vaynerchuk says. "It will be one of the biggest direct to consumer brands in the price point in America in the next three to four years."

Vinomofo is selling Empathy Wines in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and Dry says he expects to sell out its allocation of 600 to 1000 cases. But the broader benefit from the partnership for Vinomofo is the potential to build its brand globally, particularly in the United States.

"The number of people that have become aware of Vinomofo through this project alone is insane," he says. "Anytime [Vaynerchuk] posts anything, it is seen by half a million people."

Dry says Vinomofo is "growing solidly" having just hit over $60 million in turnover and is back in profitability.

While major investor Blue Sky is experiencing troubles (its parent company collapsed into administration last month), Dry says this does not affect Vinomofo.

"I really feel for the guys going through it as it is obviously challenging and hard and all of those things," he says. "It doesn't have an impact on the operation of Vinomofo or any of their portfolio companies just that holding company. We were invested in through Blue Sky's investment fund which was made up of a whole heap of individual investors. It is business as usual for us but there is going to be noise in the market.

In the meantime Dry hopes Vinomofo's partnership with Vaynerchuk will help open doors for the Australian startup in the United States which he says is "absolutely a focus".

"He is an incredibly influential and connected person in that market," he says. "I will definitely talk to him about our opportunity to launch in that market. I am deep in negotiation at the moment, it depends how that plays out."

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