MEDIA Super and Cbus Super, two of Australia’s better performing super funds, plan to join forces and have signed a memorandum of understanding to begin due diligence on a joint arrangement to come into effect next year.

Media Super oversees just under $6 billion in retirement savings for workers predominantly in the printing, arts, media, and entertainment industries.  Cbus is a $54 billion dollar fund primarily for workers in the building, construction and allied sectors.

The proposed joint arrangement will potentially manage the retirement savings of over 800,000 Australians.

The partnership will see a merging of the funds’ investment and administration operations with both the Cbus Super and Media Super branding maintained.

Media Super chair, Gerard Noonan said the joint arrangement would let Media Super members access the benefits of scale. 

“By increasing our size, we can provide access to a greater range of investment opportunities and provide a better deal through cost savings, potentially reducing the investment fees,” Mr Noonan said.

“Cbus has a strong offering with 30 percent of its investments internalised and ownership of its market-leading developer, Cbus Property.

“We believe that the merger will also continue to build on our leading responsible investment approach and have a much stronger voice with the companies with which we engage.”

Cbus Super chairman Steve Bracks said Cbus understood the importance of maintaining a strong connection with members.

“For 35 years our fund has had a strong bond with our members,” Mr Bracks said.

“This affinity with our members has built a strong level of trust in the fund. Media Super has a very similar history and connection with their members.

“This is an exciting opportunity for both of our funds and I am very pleased to see this proposal progressing.”

The partnership is conditional on a more detailed due diligence process taking place. This will provide an independent assessment proving confirmation that the joint arrangement is in the best interests of members for both parties.

A spokesperson said both funds would not be making further public comments until the due diligence process concludes. 

www.cbussuper.com.au

www.mediasuper.com.au

ends

By Leon Gettler >>

SOCIAL ISOLATION and working from home has created a massive amount of business for courier service Aramex Australia.

Aramex CEO Peter Lipinski told Talking Business that certain types of orders have been up by as much as 30-76 percent.

He said the big orders were coming in for wine, pet food and flat pack furniture for people working at home. Tools for home improvement and even weights. 

At the same time, deliveries of apparel have decreased, largely because imports were down.

“The couriers are saying they’re getting quite a workout,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said the growth in online ordering has been massive.

“Obviously due to restrictions, they don’t want to venture off. They do order everything they need and we deliver a very wide range of products,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said Aramex operates in 27 regions across Australia, from Cairns to Tasmania, all the way to Perth and the entire eastern seaboard.

ARAMEX SYSTEM GROWS

Aramex is run as a three-level franchise, with regions franchised. Each region has courier franchisees who operate as independent owners.

There are 900 courier franchisees and the company also has a crowd-source model that allows it to expand its deliveries in peak times.

“They service their local customers and they operate in the same area every day so they’re almost of the community,” Mr Lipinski said.

“Maybe that’s why we’re seeing such a growth because they know their customers and they’re in the same area every day – and people turn to them when they need help shipping products around.

“Our system has always been built on the courier franchisee and the regional franchisee being part of the local network.

“A lot of our regional franchisees are involved in local charities, schools and clubs and I think in situations like we’re in right now, it definitely helps them secure additional business – and I know a lot of them do things for people pro-bono as well.”

He said customer satisfaction has been rising and the company has worked hard to ensure there are no delays in delivery. 

“At the end of the day, just because we’re operating in difficult conditions, it doesn’t mean people should be affected and get their goods a week later,” he said.

DELIVERING FOR THE DELIVERERS

Mr Lipinski said the company has measures to ensure the safety of its couriers, especially in reaction to the current pandemic situation.

“We’ve implemented staggered start times and shifts, we’ve put in cleaning processes, we’ve changed the delivery structure where we no longer require people to actually sign, we just sign on their behalf, we just need to verify they’re in front of us,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said the company has also brought in a system where it just has to leave the product in a certain agreed place.

At the same time, temperatures of couriers are measured every day in the depot every day when they come in.

He said he expects the courier business will continue to do well, even as more businesses re-open.

“I think the shift to online will remain and I think a lot of businesses that previously didn’t have a strong presence online will re-evaluate their options and make sure they are ready and enabled online,” Mr Lipinski said.

“I think there will be a change in people allowing employees to work from home more often in a structured way and that will drive the online market as well.

“Online is an easy way to obtain goods and its time saving and people are time-poor.”

www.aramex.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

 

BRISBANE DISTILLERY Company has not only performed a highly useful community service in turning its manufacturing capabilities over to producing hand sanitiser, it has also consequently boosted local employment.

While thousands of businesses have been repurposing their capabilities to create valuable services to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, Brisbane Distillery Company joined other distillers in pausing production of their alcoholic goods to add in a new product line: alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Brisbane Distillery Company founder, Jon Atherton was nevertheless astonished to see sales grow exponentially.  

Mr Atherton not only chose to temporarily change the whole operation of his business, but also took on the challenge of establishing a new supply chain for hand sanitiser amidst national shortages of bottles, pumps and even raw ingredients.  

To be able to meet the local demand, Brisbane Distillery hired more employees and grew the business workforce from six to 34 in a single month. Additionally, in this past month, the factory fulfilled 15,000 hand sanitiser orders – a production total of 165,000 litres. 

DIVERSE EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF

Having served in the Australian Army and worked across various industries over the last 30 years, Mr Atherton said he had been fortunate to have had diverse experience in running multiple businesses, establishing new networks and scaling teams. That varied knowledge has allowed him to pivot quickly, he said, and transform the distillery into a hand sanitiser factory – in turn becoming one of the largest producers in the region. 

“There is a little bit to making a really good gin that, if you focus on the details with gin, you can focus on the details with hand sanitiser as well,” Mr Atherton said. 

The sanitiser Brisbane Distillery sells is suitable for use in medical and health services, has 80 percent alcohol content that is said to kill 99.99 percent of viruses and bacteria. It is also a non-gel formula, so does not leave residue.

The product can be utilised in health care facilities – such as hospitals, aged care and other residential facilities – as well as for general consumer use. 

Supplying to federal and state police, ambulance and fire services, the team at Brisbane Distillery has been working harder than ever to keep the stock ahead of demand.

Prices for the hand sanitiser start from $10.50 per 600ml bottle with pump and from $57.50 per 5 litre bottle.

www.bstill.com.au

ends  

By Leon Gettler >>

LONGTAIL UX, an Australian start-up that improves website ranking and ad performance on Google, has just secured $5 million in new funding from Investec Emerging Companies Fund to expand into the US and UK markets.

The big question, is how did they do it when businesses are finding it hard to raise cash when the economy is contracting because of COVID-19?

According to the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Andreas Dzumla, it didn’t happen overnight. It followed extensive negotiations with Investec before the outbreak of the pandemic. 

“It had been a process of almost three years, of us knowing each other, they know about our business. There was a long relationship,” Mr Dzumla told Talking Business.

He said serious discussions about the funding started in August and got serious in November.

Mr Dzumla said the COVID-19 situation at the beginning of this year changed everything.

“I think everyone in February still saw this as a Chinese problem and even in early March, and then from one week to the other, things changed dramatically,” he said.

DEAL TIMING CHALLENGE

The onset of the pandemic  meant Investec had to look at what it meant for them and Longtail had to assess what it meant for its own business.

Mr Dzumla said there was a period of two weeks where no-one really knew what the impact would be. However, in the end both sides had done sufficient due diligence to go ahead with the deal.

Longtail has an extensive client base including Woolworths Group’s Dan Murphy’s, Adore Beauty, Kogan, Booktopia and Yellow Pages. 

It’s broad and, as Dzumla says, it’s a good thing it’s not limited to the travel industry.

“It’s so broad, which is why we both felt confident that while it was uncertain times, we could go forward,” Mr Dzumla said.

He said Longtail UX was already expanding overseas with teams in the US and Europe.

The company’s overseas teams had given the company good insights into the impacts of the pandemic as they were more acutely felt in markets such as Spain and the US.

PROFIT FROM LANDING PAGES

Longtail’s software helps companies profit from their landing pages. Its software makes websites more relevant and creates a better user experience.

The software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and focuses in on key words and search intentions. The company also hosts the systems on its own,

He said Longtail UX had also been at the forefront of remote work and, with its plans to expand overseas, remote working in sales and account management in different time zones would become a key part of its business strategy.

The headquarters, however, will remain in Sydney.

Sales, for example, would be done with video calls and client service is done remotely

The company also had a remote work policy right from the start.

“We are quite well-prepared comparably for the situation” Mr Dzumla said. 

“Before this, everyone in the team, every two weeks, could work from home.”

www.longtailux.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

ends

By Leon Gettler >>

TIFFANI BOVA, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, has written extensively about the Growth IQ for companies. She talks to many businesses about it.

Ms Bova travels around the world helping companies grow in the face of stiff competition and a fast-changing business environment.

As she describes it, a company’s Growth IQ comes down to simple steps. But it’s also about being honest about where the company is heading.

“The one thing about growth is it’s not one thing and starting with the context that a business is in – what  industry, what region, what sector, whether other things are going on around them and within their own business – you need to know that first,” Ms Bova told Talking Business.

She said if companies did not know the context of their business, they might end up just replicating what their competition was doing. 

“If you just go for replicating what someone else is doing, that’s their context, that’s their culture, that’s their capabilities, not yours. That’s always super dangerous,” she said.

“You have to know your business, you have to know your employees, their capabilities, you have to know you customers.

“You have to know your ability to absorb change internally. You can’t throw a bunch of ideas out to your employees and expect them to respond accordingly and everything to be executed perfectly. There’s a lot that goes behind those things that need to be done.”

WHAT GROWTH DO YOU WANT?

Ms Bova said the key question that businesses needed to ask was what kind of growth rate they wanted to have.

“Is it 2 percent, 5 percent., 10 percent, 50 percent? Each would have a different context for that business.”

One of the things Ms Bova does when she gives keynote speeches around the world is ask people how many want to grow their businesses? How many want to double their business in the next 12 months? How many want to grow at 50 percent? Or 25 percent? While everyone wants to grow, they want to grow at different paces.

“Then it goes back to that context. What can you handle as a business when it comes to growth?” Ms Bova said.

FIND COMMON STARTING GROUND

Tiffani Bova said when she talked to executive teams, there could be differing views within the company about how much growth they wanted, who their main competitors were and whether their company could handle innovation at a rapid pace.

Until everyone has a common starting ground, which is not easy to do, but at least the leadership teams need to have it, they can tackle the important issues facing the business, she said

Ms Bova cited a Bain study which found that 95 percent of businesses turning over more than $5 billion a year felt that internal inertia, not external forces, was what kept the business from growing profitably.

She said companies wanting to develop their Growth IQ needed to accept that growth is a thinking game. How much growth does the company want? Are their leaders aligned?

“It isn’t necessarily about having the best products, or the best strategy or the best execution,” Ms Bova said. “It’s about, did we come up with the right plan to begin with?”

www.salesforce.com

www.tiffanibova.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

By Leon Gettler >>

GREG MCLARDIE runs a company, Two Hands, that exports hundreds of millions of lobsters into China. He is in a very challenging situation.

Mr McLardie runs the risk of the Chinese wet markets, which notoriously helped create the coronavirus through unhygienic conditions.

However, the business will now be supplying Chinese restaurants, by-passing the wet market system. The lobsters go straight to the restaurant.

The Two Hands business model tags each lobster and uses blockchain. 

Two Hands hasn’t been supplying restaurants in China since January 27, since they have been closed. The restaurants opened three weeks ago but haven’t yet started buying lobsters because things in China are still slow.

People aren’t yet going to restaurants because they need to keep their social distance and they have to wear face masks. Mr McLardie said the chefs are telling him they won’t start ordering until May.

“I’m in constant contact with the executive chefs in Shanghai and the executive chef for the Waldorf Astoria said to me last week the whole world knows that coronavirus started in a fish market. He thinks that makes the Two Hands model very compelling because we avoid the fish market,” Mr McLardie told Talking Business.

His company was now being encouraged to bring in even more lobsters, when the restaurants start trading again.

“We connect fishers and farmers directly with the restaurant, with the chef. And with that direct connection, we have been able to reinvent the supply gain and eliminate middle men,” Mr McLardie said..

GOING DIRECT TO THE CHEFS

The way the Two Hands system works is that the fisher or farmer puts a smart tag on the product which cannot be removed until it gets to the chef. The product is weighed and the quality information is assessed.

That information, together with the fisher and farmer information, along with the pricing, is uploaded into the marketplace and made available to the chef in the restaurant. They place the order and the order is aggregated in Australia.

The lobster is packed in Australia, it arrives in customs in China and goes straight to the restaurant, avoiding the importer, the wholesaler and last mile distributor.

“So we avoid the fish market and because we’re using smart tagging with blockchain technology, we can guarantee the provenance of the product and we can guarantee the ethics of the journey the product went on,” Mr McLardie said. 

The critical part, he said, was to have all the information provided on the blockchain.

“Every time there is a change in the custody of the product, that change in custody, or any activity that affects the product, needs to be uploaded to the blockchain,” he said.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time and effort making sure there are no gaps.”

Mr McLardie said there can no longer be any case for ‘business as usual’ with coronavirus.

He said what Two Hands is doing resonates with restaurants in China. People want to know they’re eating safe food.

Mr McLardie said the model has the potential to expand into other Asian markets.

“That’s what we’re pursuing. That blockchain is of great beauty that can expand globally at a very rapid pace,” he said.

“With a public curated register, you can expand globally very rapidly. This is the first time we have a technology that can ensure all the participants operate ethically.

“I think we can move quickly to that world, thanks to blockchain.”

www.twohands.world

www.leongettler.com 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

By Leon Gettler >>

NEOS is an insurance company with a difference – a technological difference.

Apart from policies, the UK insurance firm also offers customers smart home technology to protect against burglaries, fires and water damage. Neos is also planning to add a smart door bell and an outdoor camera in the near future

The technology includes smart cameras, motion sensors, door-window sensors, leak detectors and fire detectors.

That is all managed through the app and if an issue is detected at the home, the customer can contact Neos through the app or on the phone and Neos will send someone out to put the situation right. 

And of course, technology can’t protect against everything so the customer still has good old insurance.

The technology is in essence offered free of charge and Neos is competitive with traditional insurance companies.

Neos was started up two and a half years ago and the firm is expanding globally, expecting to double its sales over the next year.

CEO and company founder, Matt Poll said the aim was to provide customers with something different.

He had spent many years working in the insurance and noticed customers all had a common gripe.

“Customers would come and say ‘You know what, I pay you all this money every year, I’m a great customer, I never claim, I get nothing in return and then at the end of the year, you go and put my price up,’’ Mr Poll told Talking Business.

“I thought customers deserved more and I had seen how smart technology can add value in terms of engagement to customers and help prevent claims.”

WINNING WITH TECH

Mr Poll said it was a win-win situation. The customer wins because they are able to protect their home better and get something of value and even if they don’t make a claim, they can check in on their home whenever they want.

And Neos wins as well because if they detect a problem early, it can save on the claims payouts. 

He said Neos also has a B2B offer for other insurers.

Aviva, the largest insurer in the UK, uses Neos technology as does a large insurer in the Netherlands and another one in the US.

Neos white labels the technology and the service around it and licenses the offer to other insurers so that they can offer it around their brand.

“When we looked hard at the market, we saw the easiest way to increase our distribution internationally was through partnerships rather than trying to sell insurance in multiple different territories which is tough for a start-up like us,” Mr Poll said.

While the company is planning to expand further into the US and Europe, Mr Poll said Australia was also an attractive market (however, there is an Australian insurance company with a similar name which has been operating nationally for several years).

“We have had some interest from Australia,” he said. “It’s certainly a market if we found the right partner we would look at because there’s a lot of similarities, apart from the weather, to the UK and obviously being an English speaking country, it makes things a lot easier for us.”

www.neos.co.uk

www.leongettler.com 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

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