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Message from the CEO, Dominique Lamb: 24 April 2018

April 24, 2018

The ACTU’s war against employers continues this week, with an outlandish claim that its push for a whopping 7.2 per cent increase to the minimum wage would create 87,000 new jobs over two years.

As you know, upping your staff’s wages by $50 per week each is not going to help you create more work for Australians!

Such absurdity can only have been dreamt up by people who’ve never had to pay wages out of their own pockets, and are totally ignorant of the challenges of running a business.

The ACTU is trying to make it even more difficult for businesses to turn a profit, or to even survive. It’s trying to add even more legislation and red tape to the Fair Work Act. It’s trying to create more rules – all of which will hurt retailers’ and other businesses’ competitiveness and productivity.

And it’s trying to strip power away from the independent umpire it helped create. Why? Because it made a decision on penalty rates that went against the unions.

But this decision went against the business community too, which is why we’re out there on this issue, and will continue to be out there on this issue going forward, so you can continue doing what you do best – running great retail businesses and employing a large percentage of the nation’s workforce.

On to something a little less heavy, and Woolworths’ technical glitch last week has been a great example of just how powerful convenience is for shoppers.

While thirty minutes may not seem like a long time, the checkout shutdown caused chaos at stores around the country, with images of frustrated consumers banked up with trolleys, or abandoning their groceries altogether, on every news bulletin in the country.

It seems half an hour of inconvenience can be a long time indeed!

Customer convenience is leading the charge when it comes to gaining the upper hand over your competitors – no matter how large or small you are – which is giving rise to all manner of options like Click and Collect, next-generation in-store technology, ever-increasing online services, AfterPay, even delivery services like Uber Eats – the list goes on.

The two big grocers’ drive toward convenience has undoubtedly played a major role in it reaching, for the first time, a combined 50 per cent share of the $13 billion+ fresh meat market, however it also reveals just how ferociously they’ve been competing against each other in this segment.

According to Roy Morgan research, traditional butchers are now holding just 24 per cent of the market (compared with 32 per cent a decade ago).

But while the overall market share for butchers is down, we are seeing is a rise in specialty offerings. We’re seeing a rise in retailers who are harnessing the opportunity to set themselves apart by catering to a niche market with unique offerings. But those who are thriving in this market are also well aware of the importance of convenience, and of course, exceptional customer service.

An article last year by The Guardian quoted David Lishman, the National Vice-Chairman of the Q Guild of Butchers – a group of more than 120 of the finest quality independent meat retailers in Britain, “…we have had to change our sails to accommodate the wind,” he said.

Whichever way you look at it, and whichever way you’re approaching your own business operations, there are momentous changes afoot in the retail industry.

If you’d like to share your own business challenges, including issues outlined above regarding the complex IR system and wage challenges, we’d love to hear from you. The NRA and our partner organisation NORA are committed to representing your needs through to the highest levels of government, so please get in touch via nra.net.au.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO. 

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