Australia’s biggest retailer, Coles Myer, has all but declared “open slather”
on the sale of the Myer department stores, inviting formal proposals for the
61-store chain before the middle of next month, reports The
SMH
. Chief executive John Fletcher said yesterday the chain, which could
fetch up to $800 million, would not be broken up.

Without wanting to denigrate the brand or a management which had to try to
turn around a run-down business in a difficult retail environment, it’s
apparent Myer “just doesn’t belong in the Coles portfolio,” says Stephen
Bartholomeusz in The Age. Myer just “doesn’t sit well” next to
the volume and price-driven food and liquor, Target, Kmart, Coles Express and
Officeworks brands. But Kmart isn’t looking that hot either, says Elizabeth Knight in The SMH. It looks like Coles Myer
executives need to undertake some re-engineering. The
fact is that there’s some “more work to be done” on this brand’s
merchandise.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard has pledged to throw his support behind the
biofuels industry after the Biofuels Taskforce reported that the Government’s
aim of having Australian motorists use 350 megalitres of biofuels in 2010 could
not be met under current conditions, reports The Age.

The
Australian
reports that the long-delayed $150 million deployment of ADSL
high-speed internet technology announced by Optus yesterday has the
potential to slash as much as $350 million from Telstra’s revenues over
the next three years. The move by Optus, Australia’s second largest
telco, follows its earnings downgrade on Monday, in which it admitted
it would miss its earnings and cash-flow targets this financial year.

And while the paper reports that Pacific Brands, the company behind Bonds
undies, Clarks shoes and Tontine pillows, has added Sheridan sheets and
towels to its stable of clothing and homewares labels in a deal valued
at almost $62 million, things don’t look so good for Sony, as its ailing consumer electronics
businesses will bear the brunt of a fierce reorganisation that will cut
Y200 billion ($2.35 billion) in costs and 10,000 jobs worldwide over
the next 30 months, reports The Oz.

The Fin Review
also leads with the Coles Myer story,
reporting that the retail giant is embarking on a “$45 million cost
cutting blitz.” Also in the AFR, Macquarie Bank investment
chief Nicholas Moore tells Jennifer Hewett how the big deals are done.
Hewett asks what this man is doing “driving Macquarie Bank so far so
fast in what seems to be a relentless attempt to dominate the world?”

On Wall Street, US
stocks finished higher, snapping a three-session losing streak, as crude prices
fell after Hurricane Rita weakened to a Category four storm. The Dow finished up 44.02
points to 10,422.05 – MarketWatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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