Which acting Prime Minister thinks that she is so important that no-one else is allowed to park at 4 Treasury Place while she is filling in for Rudd? Other Members of Parliament who use 4 Treasury Place regularly or as one-offs have been told by the Department of Finance that there is no parking available while Gillard is acting PM.
Re. “The Oz gets Wavished by Myer chairman” – Myer’s pathetic sales growth of late is due to one reason: customers have stopped shopping there. CEO Bernie Brookes all but admitted this in an AFR interview earlier this year when he made the rather frank admission that their merchandise strategies have not worked. So what have they done? A management restructure last week that escaped media attention saw yet another ex-Woolies supermarket specialist come in to head up all merchandise for Myer. The ex-Woolies people are demonstrating a serious lack of understanding of the differences between department stores and supermarkets, yet Bill and Bernie keep bringing them into the brand. Myer’s paultry 1.8% sales increase for the six months to January was all due to the post Christmas stocktake. Month by month sales were flat or down from July (with a couple of bright patches here and there when Myer was heavily on sale), well before the interest rate panic took hold. Troubling for the brand, November and December sales were down on the previous year, while DJs were recording increases of up to 9%. Also, as for the divide between states, Myer’s business has been bad in NSW for about 10 years. The worrying trend is in Victoria, where DJs is on the ascendency because Melburnians don’t like what’s happening to their department store. Bill’s “self interview” with Glenn Milne is part of a plan (I am serious) to deflect attention away from the fact that people are increasingly shifting away from Myer to DJs, Target and specialty retailers. As for Bill Wavish’s commentary at their results announcement last month that the brand could still be highly profitable on flat sales, watch this space. There is almost no fat left to cut, which is where most profit growth has come from under Newbridge. Challenging sales growth (ie, flat or down) was never part of the Newbridge plan and the Board (ie, private equity masters) are getting increasingly nervous and will be soon demanding answers.
I’m currently in Solomon Islands and a colleague staying at the same hotel has been trying to leave on a Solomons Airline flight provided by OzJet. Two days running the plane hasn’t turned up. Perhaps you can find out what’s happening?
Ben Sandilands writes: OzJet is seeking new owners and it seems with some desperation. Its last official statement on March 27 said merger talks were nearing completion. Those talks were with Our Airline, previously Air Nauru, a serial basket case of an airline which was given rescue funding by Taiwanese interests when it was teetering on going into receivership. Prior to that OzJet was widely reported as having talks with Virgin Blue about that carrier’s interest in launching an ‘ultra’ low cost airline. The plane truth about OzJet is that its ancient Boeing 737-200 jets are junk that burn fuel at prodigious rates that make them completely uneconomic at current or likely costs. Critical bits of them have fallen off causing serious in-flight emergencies despite the company meeting its maintenance obligations. It also has an air operator certificate that no-one really needs, and if the carrier ceases to operate today no-one is likely to give a damn outside of Norfolk Island, which suffers from a chronic inability to sustain viable air services, or the Solomons, where there are alternatives, but on time seems to mean any time during the same week.