Australian Shopping Centre Landlords Hurt Small Business Retailers

Some Australian shopping centre landlords are not taking notice of small business news agency sales data and are increasing base rent by as much as 75% without apparent justification. Add to this increased competition from other retailers in shopping centres today compared to a few years ago, supermarkets, Australia Post to name two, as well as trading terms from suppliers which do not reflect the difference between a shopping centre news agency and other stores and is it any wonder there are shopping centre news agencies which are struggling.The industry average gross profit for a news agency is between 30% and 32%. The average occupancy cost for a shopping centre news agency is 15%, labour costs 12%, operating expenses are 5% and theft costs at least 2% and often more. The labour cost of 12% usually does not include owner’s wages.A note on the 15% occupancy cost – this aspirational for some newsagents who have occupancy costs closer to 25%.One way to address this the shopping centre challenge is to diversify. However, the permitted use clause of the lease and an inflexible landlord can often get in the way of this. I have seen situations where landlords have refused to allow newsagents to sell books, get into gifts or to offer homewares as part of a seasonal sale catalogue tied back to magazine themes such as food. At the same time landlords have permitted coffee shops to take on newspapers, Government owners post offices to expand into stationery and supermarkets to take on papers and magazines.With sales in core categories over which newsagents have no price or supply control, magazines, newspapers, cards and lotteries, down year on year, it is hard to see the justification for a landlord increasing rent yet it happens – usually 5% a year regardless of trading conditions.The challenge, of course, is that as long as a landlord can find someone prepared to take on a news agency at a higher than reasonable rent, they will sign them up and not renew the lease of a long term existing newsagent who will not accept an exorbitant (in their opinion) increase in base rent.One only has to look at recent history in major shopping centres in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland so see that this is what has happened. A bullish negotiator talks up the landlord, says they can achieve a higher than industry average GP, the landlord believes this and signs them up for a nice premium. The lease is handed (sometimes maybe forced) to an operator who is pumped up by the promoter and sooner or later they close, sometimes losing the family home along the way as has happened recently. The ‘promoter’ walks away unscathed and does it all again.Publishers, magazine distributors, industry associations and other stakeholders who want to see news agencies to continue to operate in shopping centres need to do more work educating landlords about fair rent. Too many newsagents of long standing lose their businesses at the end of their lease. Too many make barely minimum wage during their time of ownership of the business.I’d like to see an open forum with landlords and stakeholders to educate all parties and to co-operatively seek a solution which sees news agencies thrive in shopping centres and deliver an equitable return on investment for the newsagents.

Red Carpet Celebrity Style, Fitness and Health

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a television celebrity or movie superstar? It seems as though everyone today is obsessed with the lives, physical fitness, health, and style of their own personal favorite stars. Could you imagine every time you leave your home, being photographed and judged for your weight, health and fitness? Or for your style? You know – everything you wear, the way you fixed your hair. Did you forget to put on underwear?People everywhere spend a bundle of money on magazines just to get the latest gossip; whether it is true or not, and to see what is hot and trendy in the fashion world.We often know more about our favorite celebrities than our own family and friends, perhaps because their lives are so extravagant and over the top! Several celebrity weddings come to mind. The money spent is just monumental, and every detail is celebrated and documented! We read, and hear, and watch every facet of their marriage ceremony; from their elaborate gala to the extraordinary carte du jour. The fashion and accessories alone influence many new brides, grooms, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. From the latest styles and trends of wedding gowns, to bridesmaids dresses and the latest formal wear for the groom and the groomsmen. Not to mention the opulence in jewelry, and extravagance in location, somehow these private rituals become “newsworthy” and flood the tabloids.It seems every one of us less fortunate folk must be extremely curious as to how the other more fortunate folk live, as their lives saturate all the magazines and every “entertainment” program on cable, television, radio, and the internet. There are businesses run exclusively on the allure of the red carpet and the fascination of the glamour, charisma, and charm of the prominent well-known superstar. Within hours of every appearance on the red carpet; dresses are reproduced, jewelry and accessories are duplicated, and hair styles are copied. Within hours you can buy the latest look at bargain prices. Also, we can copy our favorite hairstyle by printing the latest hair- do from our computer at home; and take the picture to our favorite hair stylist to get a jump on the rest of the fashion world!Their are several types of magazines available to keep us up on the latest health and fitness trends. We can read all about our favorite celebs and their fitness plans, and their daily menus. We can follow their weight loss and/or gain, and we can be inspired to change ourselves as well.

Change Management Or Transition Management?

A train requires two well-maintained rails to reach its destination. Like the train, organizations going through change require two well-maintained rails to succeed: a change management plan and a transition management strategy. Even though both are necessary, one usually gets most of the attention. “While most leaders focus the majority of their time and attention on the numbers, the people issues often make or break a deal.” (Gambill and Hodge)What’s difference between Change Management and Transition Management? “Change is the event and transition is the process.” (W. Bridges) Change Management concerns itself with the physical aspects of change- what needs to be done, when and by whom. Transition Management, on the other hand, is about people and how they are affected by the change. Transitions must be managed carefully to enable people to let go and reorient themselves so that the change can work.In my experience, most leaders seem to understand Change Management, but they have not done very well at managing transitions. There can be many reasons for this, but the most common is simply that the details clamour for attention.Let me illustrate, I was contracted to assist management with the transitions issues of moving into a new facility. After four days of management training, I met with division managers to help them develop a transition management plan for their departments. We began with a reminder of the difference between Change Management and Transition Management. Then, we agreed that we would focus on Transition Management. After only five minutes of discussion, information came to light about structural problems with the facility. Immediately, the managers pounced on the problem, asking probing questions about the causes and offered possible solutions to resolve the issue. As the discussion continued, I asked a parenthetical question, “Just curious, is this discussion about Change Management or Transition Management?” One of the managers turned red and said, “Alright, we get your point.”This is usually how Transition Management gets squeezed out of the picture. It is not intentional; it is simply that the devil is in the details. Naturally, management focuses on the issues that seem most pressing. Later, when it comes time for the changes to occur, leaders encounter surprising difficulties: dependable employees resist making the prescribed changes, confusion and conflicts erupt in the workplace, costs escalate and increased sick leave, to name a few. Unfortunately, many leaders assume that if they plan the change carefully enough, the transition will follow automatically.Managing transitions can be frustrating for leaders because the process is not linear or sequential (like Change Management). Transition Management requires a multifaceted, simultaneous approach. In other words, there are a variety of ways to support people throughout the change process. Some managers feel their job is done if they provide Stress Management assistance. My answer would be “It’s a good start.”This is probably sounding all too familiar for managers entrusted with implementing change. After identifying some of the traps and pitfalls of the change process, it begs the question: What can managers do to implement changes more successfully? There is not one easy answer. Let me suggest six topic areas that will help managers head in the right direction. The list is not exhaustive, but indicates the kind of needs people have that go through change: Leadership, Engagement, Trust and Betrayal, Coping with Anger, Transition Management, Communication.