THE Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is today challenging Coles and Woolworths on their notion that extended trading hours will be of benefit to the economy and consumers.

While COSBOA agrees with Coles and Woolworths, in identifying Australia’s need for uniform trading hours (as reported in The Australian newspaper on 26 May 2014 ('Woolworths and Coles unite on trading'), it argues that longer hours will instead be detrimental to innovation and productivity to our communities.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA explains while retailers need uniform opening and closing times, it is the major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, that should be cutting back their hours of operation in order to allow smaller retailers to thrive and foster healthy competition.

“Each community should have the capacity to adjust shopping hours according to the needs of local people and the duopoly should be limited to these set opening hours, thus providing smaller outlets with the opportunity to thrive while meeting community needs for access to retail at convenient times.

“If the duopoly is allowed to extend their hours further, competition will be limited even more and innovation and productivity will continue to decline. The effect on local retail culture and diversity is just as important.  If the duopoly is allowed to drive other shops out of business then it is the consumer that will suffer,” said Mr Strong.

COSBOA acknowledges that competition is at the heart of any good economy, but the domination of Coles and Woolworths is already stifling innovation and productivity within the supply chain and manufacturing; extending trading hours will only increase their dominance of the marketplace.

“The problem does not end with Coles and Woolworths but also encompasses large landlords, such as Westfield and Stocklands, who dictate unsustainable opening hours even when there is no likelihood of good business for small business operations.

"With the dominance of these big landlords and the duopoly combined, we will inevitably see the closure of main-street shopping, resulting in a common, predictable model that erodes our culture and diversity as well as Australia’s capacity to compete internationally.

“The power and influence of the duopoly and the biggest landlords must be curbed if the economy is to grow and our local and unique retail and café marketplaces are to be allowed to survive,” added Mr Strong.

www.cosboa.org.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said while the call for uniform trading hours can relieve consumer living pressures, smaller independent supermarkets will be left under the financial pressure.

The call for uniform trading hours made today benefit large chain supermarkets leaving smaller supermarkets in the dark.

Statements that greater shopping hours will address the impact from online retailers is misleading.  The main user of longer shopping hours are major chain supermarkets. Online shopping impacts non supermarket retailers in the main.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said although the ARA supports the retail industry wide trading hours, caution must be taken to keep smaller independent businesses alive.

“With the big two retailers seeking the positive side of economic growth, we must be tread carefully to not destroy smaller independent retailers.

“Small independent retailers  will endure increased hours raising the cost of doing business, increased pressure on family businesses as owners will have to cover long hours, staff retrenchment and rises in utility costs.

“The call for uniform trading hours may assist economic growth in the short term, however, smaller businesses will be unsustainable with the pressures it will involve, and long term may not prove to give positive economic growth” Mr Zimmerman said.

If consumers want longer trading hours, then employment costs and penalty rates must also be part of the discussion, without penalty rates being reviewed, wages and on costs will be unsustainable for the independent retailers of Australia.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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THIS WEEK's Carbon Nexus opening was welcomed by VECCI for the benefits it will bring to the Geelong-region and the Victorian economy.

“The Carbon Nexus opening is a significant event for the region and Victoria, as carbon fibre is a vital part of developing the Geelong-region’s potential as a global advanced manufacturing leader,” said VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“Building Victoria’s international competitiveness must be a pillar of our state’s longer term growth strategy, so it’s positive to see support for industries with demonstrated growth potential that can take advantage of global opportunities.

“As the Victorian economy continues to undergo change it is important that governments look to capitalise on our core strengths, so we welcome today’s opening,” said Mr Stone.

Mr Stone’s comments come after Premier Denis Napthine officially opened Carbon Nexus today, as part of Deakin University’s Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre.

“It’s positive to see both state and federal government’s supporting industries that make Victoria more competitive and prepared to take advantage of international opportunities,” said Mr Stone.

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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VECCI welcomes the State and Federal Government’s $50 million investment in the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal industry because of the positive economic benefits it could bring to the region and potentially, across Victoria. 

“Funding that assists business to transition into the production of new products using a plentiful natural resource of Victoria is good policy,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“Given the magnitude of Victoria’s brown coal reserve, it makes sense to explore new uses for it and we should pursue the range of possibilities, particularly if they could lead to greater prosperity.”
 
The Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Victorian Minister for Energy Russell Northe announced the funding today as part of the 50:50 State-Commonwealth Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program.

“Strong regional economies are vital to a strong Victoria. VECCI has long recognised and supported the significant contribution the Latrobe Valley makes to the Victorian economy and supports efforts to continue to strengthen and transition the local economy,” says Mr Stone.

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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FOLLOWING yesterday’s decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on the Restaurant and Catering Award for penalty rates, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is hopeful we will see a common sense outcome in this year’s Retail Award Review due later this year.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA has been in discussions with retailers nationwide and believes there is a sound economic and social argument to bring penalty rates in line with Saturday rates.

“We know if retail is to compete with new sales channels we need to be more flexible. Employees as well as consumers today see Sunday’s as little different to Saturdays.

“The minority of the Full Bench of the FWC stated the following in relation to the Restaurant Award: 
 'From the evidence led in this case we are not persuaded that in the restaurant and catering industry there is an ongoing justification for a level of Sunday penalties significantly above the Saturday rate for employees'.

“ARA research conducted through Monash University showed that employees were overwhelmingly prepared to work on Sundays for sensible rates of pay. Click here to see research report.

“There are numerous categories of employees in retail who prefer to work on weekends. For students, weekends may be the only time they are available to work. 

"For dual income families, it is an opportunity to share the caring burden and to minimise child care costs while at the same time allowing for sufficient family time. For many others, it represents an opportunity to pursue their interests, be they sporting, cultural or leisure, at times when competition for the activities associated with those interests is reduced.

“We are heartened that the FWC is beginning to understand the problems Sunday penalties cause, and that there is at least some recognition that high penalty rates can negatively impact on employees in their pursuit of greater employment opportunities.

“The ARA will be pushing hard to ensure retailers gain some relief from Sunday penalties and are able to continue their strong tradition of providing employment opportunities, particularly to young people, that are so crucial to the success of the Australian economy” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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