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Woolworths’ sales grow by $1.8b

2019年5月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Woolworths achieved an additional $1.

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8 billion in sales during the final six months of 2013, as its supermarkets continued to attract more customers.

The retail giant sold $31.8 billion worth of goods in its supermarkets, petrol stations, hotels and Big W and hardware stores during the six months to December 31, which is up six per cent from just over $30 billion for the same period a year ago.

Sales from the company’s Australian supermarkets and bottle shops, including the Dan Murphy’s chain, rose nearly five per cent to $21.5 billion.

Customer numbers, and the average size of their purchases, had increased during the six month period, chief executive Grant O’Brien said.

Woolworths is working to achieve similar sales growth in the second half of the 2013/14 financial year, he said.

“We are pleased with where the food and liquor is at and we’re working hard to make sure we continue that momentum for the full year,” Mr O’Brien said.

Woolworths shares were up 64 cents, or 1.9, at $34.56 at 1439 AEDT.

The retail giant achieved solid sales gains in its home improvement, petrol and hotels divisions during the six months, but Big W was its weakest performer.

The department store achieved only a 0.2 per cent gain in sales, despite the opening of new stores during the half year.

Mr O’Brien said the company’s efforts to reposition Big W and improve its performance, by shrinking or exiting some product categories, had hurt sales.

“We have said before that that repositioning of the Big W business will have an effect on sales and it has,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Generally, we’d like to have seen stronger sales in Big W but that’s not the case, it’s been quite patchy.”

Woolworths also announced online sales across the group had topped $1 billion for the first time, which was a 40 per cent improvement compared to a year ago.

The company opened seven new Masters stores over the six month period, and plans to open 11 more in the second half of the financial year as it battles with Bunnings for a major share in the home improvement sector.

Nine die battling Argentina blaze

2019年5月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

At least nine firefighters and rescue workers have been killed in Buenos Aires after the wall of a warehouse engulfed by flames collapsed on top of them, officials say.

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The wall fell as firefighters were using an electric saw to cut through a huge iron gate at the warehouse, which housed archival bank records.

Authorities said the dead included six members from a federal police firefighting unit, a volunteer firefighter and two members of Argentina’s civil guard.

Speaking outside the warehouse, where the fire was still not under control after seven hours, Security Secretary Sergio Berni said eight people had also been injured, including five who were still hospitalised.

However, “so far there are no reports of missing persons,” Berni added, and a company spokesman said warehouse employees were all safe.

Berni had earlier said several other first responders who were badly injured in the accident were “fighting for their lives”.

Emergency workers who arrived to aid those crushed under the debris “found a lot of bodies covered by rubble, some with multiple serious injuries,” said Alberto Crescenti, head of the public medical service.

“Unfortunately, most of the victims died at the scene,” he said.

“We tried to get them out, but that was impossible,” he told reporters.

One grieving civil guard officer at the scene said he was devastated by the loss of his comrades.

“What happened to us is a terrible tragedy that never should have occurred,” he said.

“We are sad – and angry. We work for next to nothing, but nevertheless put on a brave face,” he said, adding that under such conditions “we just can’t continue”.

Officials said they do not know what caused the blaze in the 19th century-era building.

The tragedy occurred in a neighbourhood of businesses and modest single family homes in southern Buenos Aires.

Iron Mountain, the US company that owned the warehouse, said in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the deaths of the brave rescuers who… arrived quickly to save our facilities.”

“All Iron Mountain employees are safe,” the statement said, adding that the building had been equipped with smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher system.

President Cristina Kirchner’s government and Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri declared two days of national mourning over the tragedy.

Virgin Australia in the red with $49m loss

2019年5月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Virgin Australia has gone further into the red, making a $49 million loss for the first half of the financial year.

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The downbeat guidance comes months after the airline reported a $98 million loss in the 2013 financial year amid turbulence in the local aviation industry.

Virgin is locked in a battle for domestic market share with rival Qantas which recently flagged a $300 million first half loss, prompting ratings agencies to downgrade its credit rating to junk status.

In a statement on Thursday, Virgin said it expects to post a before tax loss of $49 million for the six months to December 31, which would compare to a $61 million pre-tax profit in the previous corresponding period.

However, the airline’s share price has risen, adding 2.2 cents, or 7.1 per cent, to 34 cents by 1500 AEDT, as the company’s forecast is better than what some analysts had been expecting.

The forecast excludes its share of losses incurred by Tigerair, which it acquired in July 2013, and other one-off restructuring costs.

Virgin’s guidance came in a response to a query from market operator ASX about a fall in the airline’s share price on Wednesday.

The shares dropped to 28 cents on Wednesday, down from 35 cents on Monday, amid higher than normal trading volumes.

Virgin said some investors may have mistaken its stock for Virgin Atlantic, which has announced it will axe its sole Australian service because increasing costs and weak revenues have made it unprofitable.

“We have received feedback that this has caused some confusion in the market with people mistakenly assuming that Virgin Atlantic is the same entity as Virgin Australia,” the company said.

Volatility on worldwide markets over the past 48 hours could have also had a flow on impact on local markets, with a trend for selling down cyclical stocks, it said.

Between Monday and Wednesday rival Qantas’ shares fell 5.5 per cent.

At 1500 AEDT Qantas shares were one cent higher at $1.04.

Australia’s local aviation industry faces competition from lower-cost Asian carriers, a tough global economic environment and high oil prices.

Last year Virgin attributed its 2012/13 loss to a difficult economic and competitive environment, one-off restructuring costs, and the carbon tax.

Virgin’s audited financial results will be released on February 28.

Hard sell on self reliance from Hockey

2019年5月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Treasurer Joe Hockey has called on Australians to become more self reliant at a time when the federal government is considering tough spending decisions.

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“And the business sector must shoulder more of the burden,” he told the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Thursday, adding it must restore corporate accountability and rely less on government assistance.

“It must stand on its own feet, and it must pay its fair share of tax.”

Mr Hockey was continuing the hard sell of his blunt message earlier in the week: the age of entitlement is over.

Instead it was time for the age of personal and corporate responsibility.

The treasurer said the budget he inherited from Labor reflected the entitlement mentality that dominated government decision-making in recent years.

“Too many taxpayers’ dollars have been spent on corporate and middle class welfare and too often previous governments have been drawn into areas that are better left to the private sector.”

Sustaining strong growth in living standards over the next decade would require a significant improvement in Australia’s productivity growth performance.

“This won’t be achieved through more government handouts.”

Mr Hockey also warned that Australia should not let itself fall into the same trap as some other G20 countries.

“They have run out of fiscal and monetary policy options. We must never let ourselves get into that situation.”

Governments had run out of money and it was now the turn of the private sector to generate economic growth and create new jobs.

The role of government was to facilitate and not inhibit the task.

Budgets required tough decisions by governments now so that near-impossible decisions were avoided in the future, Mr Hockey said.

The structural position of the federal budget was unsustainable and projected growth in government spending could not be from the existing tax base.

“This means that, in the absence of significant fiscal adjustment, public debt will continue to grow and the government’s flexibility to respond to future economic shocks will continue to erode.”

Mr Hockey said his first budget in May would focus on the necessary changes to meet a commitment of achieving surpluses that build to at least one per cent of gross domestic product by 2023/24.

But it will be set against the broader challenges of a declining terms of trade and baby boomers reaching retirement.

Top apps for Valentine’s Day

2019年5月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Valentine’s Day is upon us again.

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But now we have apps galore, whereas in the pre-smartphone era we were restrained to hallmark cards, bears, and chocolates.

Here’s a selection to help make February 14 the best yet.

MAKR (Free, iPad-only)

With this iPad-only offering, you can create personalised stickers, postcards, recipe cards, announcements, and any number of cards.

There are a selection of tasteful and professional-looking Valentine’s Day templates, allowing you to sidestep the generic schmaltz of the newsagency offerings.

The app will charge $3.99 to save a design as a PDF, which you can then print at your leisure. Professional prints are available in the US only.

VALENTINE RADIO (Free, iOS and Android)

Forget scouring your music collection for Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.

Valentine Radio provides a selection of 40 national, international and internet radio stations broadcasting the best love tunes.

Browse from suggestive names such as Todoexitos Romantico, and Candlelight Radio.

LOVECAFE CARD DESIGNER (Free, Android only)

A good e-card design app for Android phones, LoveCafe’s Card Designer is a little more playful than Makr.

You can choose from more than 100 backgrounds and clipart characters, or put in your own photos if you wish.

You can then export them via email, save them to your photo album, or post them on Facebook.

LADIDA ($3, iOS)

This nifty app will turn your horrendous singing into something your love might actually want to listen to.

It’s billed as “reverse karaoke”, using artificial intelligence to turn even the most tone-deaf ramblings into something digestible.

Sing or rap into the phone, and LaDiDa will analyse your voice and compose music to match.

It includes voice effects such as pitch correction, reverb, chorus and delay, and you can choose from a selection of musical styles – from acoustic rap to underground rap.

YUMMLY (Free, iOS)

There are plenty of recipe apps out there, but Yummly’s search function makes it stand out.

Its search filters let you find recipes by holiday, cuisine, taste, diet, and more. It groups recipes from top sites and blogs, and lets you share them easily on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google Plus.

A quick search of the word “valentine” brings up a list of cakes and biscuits – there’s even a recipe called Cinnamon White Chocolate Valentine’s Day Puppy Chow!

CRAFTSY (Free to download, but some classes cost money, iOS)

Learn to craft your own personalised gift with Craftsy – the ultimate DIY app.

Craftsy hooks you up with video tutorials on a range of topics, including cake decorating, cooking, knitting, sewing, and quilting.

Several mini-classes are free, but the more advanced ones start at about $30.

POCKET SALSA ($4.50 on iOS)

Apparently you can learn to dance salsa “in minutes” with this app, which has more than 120 video dance lessons.

It might take a little longer than that, but your Valentine is sure to be impressed by your effort.

Additional premium videos are available as in-app purchases if you’re after something a little more difficult.

POETRY FROM THE POETRY FOUNDATION (Free, iOS and Android)

If you’re not exactly Shakespeare, fake it with this nifty poetry app.

It features thousands of poems by both classic and contemporary wordsmiths – including, of course, an entire section dedicated to love.