Bidvest sees mixed H1

South African conglomerate Bidvest has reported a challenging six months for its Office and Paperplus divisions.

For the half year ended 31 December 2012 Bidvest’s Office division achieved modest revenue improvements – up by 2.9% to R2.2 billion ($242 million) – and Paperplus saw sales rise by 2% to R2 billion. However, both units reported a drop in operating profit; Office operating profit fell by over 7% to R131 million while Paperplus’ operating profit was almost 6% lower at R175 million.

Within the Office division, Bidvest said that Waltons had recovered well and had enjoyed a good back-to-school season. The Technology group was hit by contract delays at Konica Minolta and Océ, but this should help the performance in the second half of the financial year. Losses were reduced in the furniture manufacturing business and the short-term goal is for this unit to break even.

At the Paperplus division, volumes in the stationery wholesale business were lower than expected and Silveray sales dipped, but there was better news from the labelling and packaging business where sales grew strongly, albeit at lower margins.

By Andy Braithwaite

http://www.opi.net/

Epson’s new installation projectors boast a range of innovative features ideal for business and education.

Epson, worldwide leader in the projector market, has launched a range of powerful installation projectors that deliver bright images and crisp quality. The Epson EB-G6 series includes eight models with features built specifically for their different target markets.

The EB-G6900WU and EB-G6800 projectors are ideal for rental and digital signage companies. Both models can project into corners and onto curved surfaced and automatically adjust to remove distortion. They include HDBaseT – a state-of-the-art technology used for the transfer of five signals, including uncompressed HD video, audio, power and control, at low costs over long distances of up to 100m using a standard cat5/6 cable.

Kelvin Reynolds, general manager of Epson South Africa, says, “Epson is one of the first adopters of this technology in the projection market. By providing a dedicated connectivity interface including video, data and Power over Ethernet that uses standard network cabling, it is expected to reduce complexity, time and cost.”

The EB-G6650WU,EB-G6550WU, EB-G6-6450WU, EB-G66250W,EB-G6050W and EB-6350 will suit medium to large corporate and high education institutions as these models have been designed for installation in auditoriums, lecture theatres and large meeting rooms.

Their high brightness levels – 4,500 to 7,000 lumens – and a range of resolutions ensure clean crisp projections, regardless of the environment.

Theses professional installation projectors are ideal for the corporate, educational and rental markets, thanks to the bright, powerful projections and innovative features.

All the projectors in the series are compatible with the Epson EB-G5 series lenses, which means they can be used to upgrade existing G5 installations. They feature Epson’s 3LCD technology for vivid colour and detail, and can be rotated vertically by 360⁰ so the display can be moved around the room easily and efficiently.

They also feature edge blending, which means a large; widescreen image can be projected from a number of projectors and stitched together seamlessly.

Each model is easy to set up and use, thanks to a variety of user-friendly installation features, such as pixel alignment, which allows you to fine tune the quality of colours for perfect image quality and convergence, and colour uniformity. These features ensure that once the projectors are installed, users can concentrate on delivering their content rather than adjusting screen settings.

“Our new range of business projectors offers bright, superior picture quality for truly remarkable projections,” says Reynolds.

“We’ve been the world’s number one projector manufacturer for over a decade, so businesses can be safe in the knowledge that their important presentations are showcased in the highest quality available.”

The Epson G-series will be available from March.

Epson has expanded its SureColor wide-format printer line-up with three cost-effective, high-speed, 4-colour printers for CAD, GIS and POS applications.

The three new models: Epson SureColor SC-T7000, SC-T5000 and SC-T3000 offer fast, reliable printing on coated and non-coated media up to 44-inch (1,118mm), 36-inch (914mm) and 24-inch (610mm) wide respectively.

 

Designed to fit seamlessly into the office environment, the printers feature sleek styling, small footprints and low noise levels, and are operated from the front to allow convenient placement against a wall. The printers are ideal for applications where speed and economy are paramount, such as printing architectural designs and plans, maps, presentations, posters and indoor signage. The printers take just 28 seconds to produce an A1 print in draft mode on plain paper, and offer optimised running costs with a choice of 700ml, 350ml and 110ml ink cartridge sizes.

Further improving efficiency, the printers are quick to set up with automatic photo and matte black ink switching, and are so easy to use that operators do not need special training. All controls are at the front of the printers while media is fed in at the top. The finished prints emerge at the front, stacking neatly into a basket. Tracking how much paper is left on a roll is simple thanks to media barcode printing. 

 

Vernon Mellors, Large Format Printer Business Account Manager of Epson South Africa, says, “When developing a new printer, we always ask our customers what they need and they told us they want a printer that fits easily into their current production environment, so we’ve added an HP-GL emulation mode. Another popular request was a hard disk drive (HDD) for print spooling, so we’ve given all three printers an optional 250GB HDD.”

 

The new range of printers use Epson’s new UltraChrome XD Ink, which has been developed to produce high-quality, durable prints with deep blacks, a wide colour gamut and crisp, dense lines with a minimum width of 0.02mm. Epson’s Variable-size Droplet Technology brings clarity to fine detail while delivering optimum efficiency for larger areas of colour.

Helping to reduce impact on the environment, the range uses water-based inks, and are qualified by Energy Star for their excellent power efficiency.

The Surecolor T-Series range are priced accordingly at R26,342.82 for the T-3000, R34,521.00 for the T-5000 and R41,722.75 for  the T-7000  series.

Hostex is back in Johannesburg in March next year, with its time-honoured line up designed to once again more than meet the high expectations of the catering and hospitality industry. The show, which has served the industry well for 26 years, will be held at the renowned Sandton Convention Centre from 17 to 20 March 2013.

 

Hostex has built a sound reputation for delivering an all-encompassing ‘one-stop shop’ expo that also guarantees valuable information-sharing, networking opportunities, excitement with the prestigious competitions that run for the duration of the show, and more. “The growing success of Hostex over the years is largely founded on tried and tested approaches that our industry has asked for and responded to positively,” explains Brad Hook, Portfolio Director of Specialised Exhibitions, organisers of Hostex.

 

Underpinning this statement is the fact that Hostex visitor numbers have continued to grow over the last couple of years, through the tough global economic situation. The show in 2011 saw 220 exhibitors and 11 500 visitors from across South Africa and neighbouring countries, and the Johannesburg visitor figures are expected to be higher all round.

 

Hostex will again be featuring the popular visitor attractions of the Global Pizza Challenge, the Barista Championship hosted by the Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa, the SA Chefs’ Village hosted by the SA Chefs Association, and many more. “We will be enhancing these and other visitor attractions next year to keep the appeal of the events fresh and up to date.”

 

Hostex is endorsed by a range of industry associations and organisations, which include the SA Chefs Association (SACA), Bed & Breakfast Association of South Africa (BABASA), Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), Guest House Accommodation of South Africa (GHASA), National Accommodation Association (NAA), Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA), and Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa (SCASA).

 

The event, the only one of its kind in southern Africa, attracts decision-makers from across the spectrum of the catering and hospitality industry and provides exhibitors with the perfect opportunity for face-to-face product promotion. It will cover 12 000m² of floor space across two exhibition halls, enabling constant activities and feature events throughout the show.

 

Hook adds that experience has shown that when exhibitions offer good value and excellent opportunities for exhibitors to boost their sales prospects, they tend to be successful, even in recessionary times. “We’re finding that more and more, companies see leading industry exhibitions such as Hostex as an opportunity to create brand awareness and product or service preference through experiential marketing, which goes a long way towards creating a sound connection with customers and potential customers, possibly more so than other more traditional selling methods.

 

“The bottom line is that Gauteng is the business hub of South Africa – and the main centre for catering and hospitality industry activity. There is always an exciting industry buzz when Hostex is here; and we can see that it’s already starting in anticipation of next year’s show,” says Hook.

 

For more information on the 2013 show, contact Lindy Taylor on (011) 835-1565 or go to www.hostex.co.za.

Retail Careers Demystified

 

The retail sector offers lucrative job opportunities for graduates, but many of them overlook this dynamic career option.

“Some graduates tend to associate the fashion retail industry with shop work or standing behind a cashier,” says Abdullah Mayet of Keystone Apparel Company, home of Timberland, Hackett London and Church’s Shoes.

 

“At the other end, the fashion industry is confused with the entertainment industry. Some believe that in order to work in fashion, you have to be a super model,” he adds.

These myths surrounding the retail industry can be crippling to the growth of the sector, as less and less people show interest in pursuing it as a permanent career but merely as a stepping stone to finance a career in a different field. There are endless possibilities, including buying, designing, merchandising, marketing, logistics, distribution, finance, human resources and brand management, amongst others.

 

Notably, the National Study of the Changing Workforce highlighted that the retail workforce is made up of two distinct groups, 39% of employees come from Generation Y and are under 28 years old and 7% are over 62 years old. The average age in the retail sector is 37 years old, while it is 41 years old in other industries. 

 

The stats indicate that not many people beyond the age of 30 remain in the sector, which is a current challenge facing retail. The study further indicates that a big driving force behind the unfaithfulness of the youth to the industry is a lack of mentorship and motivation. Retail employees who motivate their staff and help them grow are more likely to sustain the talent. 

 

The sector can offer large scale job satisfaction, as it is ever changing. As the trends change so does the nature of the job. The increasing growth of social networking and online activities also means that there is an increase in the job scope. Online specialists are required on a full-time basis to ensure that the products, specials and other offers are continuously marketed.

 

The retail sector is conducive to those who enjoy the fast paced, ever-changing environment. It is largely dependent on the state of the economy and this means that retailers also have the responsibility of responding to the changes in consumer behaviour. Other factors that affect consumer trends include mobile technology, rapid urbanization, change of lifestyle and the fact that consumers are becoming increasingly impatient in a world where everything is available almost immediately.  These factors are an indirect pull factor as it creates an exciting, fulfilling job environment with opportunities for large-scale job satisfaction. 

 

In recent times, issues such as sustainability, organic products and practices, recycling, considering human and animal rights and an increasing focus on “greener” living have been a huge influence on the retail sector. This is not only a positive in creating jobs and a greener way of doing things but it is also another pull factor that can bring job-seekers to the retail sphere. “When considering employment, people tend to choose companies that are considerate about giving back,” Mayet says, “and companies like Timberland pride itself on this ethos in its product offering and daily running of business.”

 

TECHNOLOGY hubs can play a pivotal role in fostering the emergence of a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs, Praekelt Foundation founder Gustav Praekelt said on Wednesday at the launch of JoziHub, an innovation hub aimed at incubating start-ups and tech development.

Although the South African government is pushing entrepreneurship as a way of creating jobs and developing the economy, South Africa does not have an equivalent to Silicon Valley to incubate these enterprises. Small to medium-sized enterprises also have a high failure rate.

JoziHub is “a space for collaboration, an environment where innovators, developers and entrepreneurs can interact”, Mr Praekelt said.

Located at 44 Stanley in Milpark, Johannesburg, the hub will be the “facilitator for interaction and collaboration among stakeholders such as research, private sector and public institutions”, the foundation said.

“It is a technology incubator for internet technologies and social media,” Mr Praekelt said, noting that “we want to focus on those areas, as we believe those can have the largest impact and return on investment”.

He added: “We think there is market neglect in these areas.”

Founded and housed by the Praekelt Foundation, the initiative is backed by Google and philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network. Google South Africa’s Julie Taylor said on Thursday: “We’re committed to helping the tech start-up ecosystem grow across Africa.”

However, Aart Boessenkool, head of technology transfer at the University of Johannesburg, said on Thursday that physical space was not enough to foster entrepreneurship.

“We don’t have a Silicon Valley, an innovation space where people can haggle out things…. You don’t only need a physical space, you need people who can help entrepreneurs,” he said.

This is the strategy behind the JoziHub, Mr Praekelt said. “We provide a space to collaborate and, it is hoped, start spin-off companies. There will be events, usually technology events, workshops and technology days. If you are a member, you have free access to these events.

“In the daytime, there is desk space where entrepreneurs can work and incubate their projects.”

Other services on offer will include mentorship and potentially linking entrepreneurs with funders.

Ms Taylor said Google SA’s goal was to “enable tech hubs by providing them with technical content, business tools and infrastructure upgrades, so that they can support increasing demand from developers and start-ups”.

Other hubs in Africa backed by Google include the Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria and the iHub in Kenya.

Mr Praekelt highlighted the importance of collaboration and said JoziHub was interested in working with other hubs in South Africa and on the continent.

Membership is free, and for the first three to six months, workspace at JoziHub will also be free, to allow the foundation to gauge demand.

“We will create a costing model once we have a community,” Mr Praekelt said, adding that interested parties would have to apply for space.

 

 

http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/technology/2013/02/22/new-tech-innovation-hub-hopes-to-fire-up-sas-silicon-valley

Opening its own brick-and-mortar retail stores could help Google sell more of its Chromebooks, Nexus tablets and other hardware, analysts said Friday, reacting to online reports that Google may soon be coming to the local shopping mall.

Google is in the process of building its own retail stores and hopes to have the first stores open in time for the holidays in major U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a report Friday in 9to5Google, which cited an unnamed, “extremely reliable” source.

“Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase,” the website reported.

Google’s Android is already the dominant mobile operating system for smartphones, but the company is trying to make greater inroads with its laptop computers, known as Chromebooks, and its Nexus tablets.

The company is also developing Google Glass, a head-mounted augmented reality system that people would wear to give them real-time information throughout the day. And Google now owns Motorola’s handset business.

Online, Google’s products are currently sold through its Play digital storefront and through Amazon and some other retailers. Some products can also be bought in pop-up or smaller stores within Best Buy and Staples.

But having its own retail stores could increase consumer awareness around its growing line of physical products and potentially increase sales, analysts say.

“I wouldn’t put it past Google to do this,” said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst with Silicon Valley-based Creative Strategies.

Regardless of whether the products are actually bought in the store, the strategy could help demonstrate their value, he said. Google’s mobile devices are not pushed in physical stores like Best Buy as effectively as they should be, he said. “The stores’ sales teams push different products different weeks,” he said.

“Google does not have as many products as Apple, but it has enough to justify a physical retail presence,” agreed Greg Sterling, senior analyst with Opus Research.

Even if consumers don’t buy the product on the spot, they could get a better feel for it in a physical store staffed by Google employees than they could by reading about it online, Sterling said, especially for a cutting-edge product like Glass.

But Google will have to think carefully about its approach. After all, Gateway went the retail route to sell its personal computers and accessories, “but that largely failed,” Sterling noted.

 

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/021613-google-retail-stores-could-be-266787.html

Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
11-12 March 2013

Exploring the challenge of creating a sustainable brand in emerging markets – the Proctor and Gamble case

Any successful retailer will tell you that building strong brand awareness is the best long – term marketing strategy. However, creating a sustainable brand in new and emerging markets presents a unique challenge for international retailers. If you would like to learn more about how to create a strong brand in emerging markets, then you need to be at Retail World Africa 2013! 

Retail World Africa 2013 brings together innovative game changers that have managed to build successful brands and secure their position at the forefront of the industry. Join us as Stand Vecera, Vice President for South and East Africa at Proctor and Gamble shares his knowledge and experience of branding in emerging markets. Go to www.terrapinn.com/retailafrica for more information.

If you’re wondering how to overcome the challenge of making your brand appeal to the local consumer, then Procter and Gamble’s presentation on “Exploring the challenge of creating a sustainable brand in emerging markets ” at Retail World Africa 2013 will give you insight into how you too can get people talking about your brand.

The other retail experts include:

Unilever Africa 
Nestle Southern Africa 
Procter and Gamble South Africa 
Stuttafords South Africa
Zando South Africa 
Uchumi Kenya
Capacity Holdings, South Africa 
LuxLife, South Africa
Bid or Buy, South Africa
Mercedes Benz, South Africa
Swop and Shop, South Africa

Serial games entrepreneur and sometimes angel investor Dylan Collins has a new project, which he no doubt describes as “awesome”. Aiming to help solve the discovery problem faced by physical and digital products targeting the fickle market that is kids, the aptly namedBox Of Awesome is like a free Birchbox for 13-14 year-old children, stuffed with games, music, books, and other kid-friendly stuff. The draw for brands who pay for space in each bi-monthly box is the opportunity to be discovered by influencers in that hard to reach demographic.

To that end, I’m told that the startup has already amassed 30,000+ subscribers in the UK, where it is initially launching, and will begin sending out the first Boxes Of Awesome at the end of this month.

The idea for the service was born out of Collins’ experience in the games industry and most recently as Chairman of boys online game Fight My Monster. He realised that the challenge of targeting 13-14 year-old kids isn’t just creating content that resonates with them (before they move on to the next cool thing), but actually getting their attention in the first place. It’s a familiar problem faced by products in many markets: the barriers of distribution are much lower online, but discovery is now a lot harder as supply beats demand.

One way to think about how Box Of Awesome is tackling this problem is akin to ‘give aways’ found on the covers of children’s magazines. And in fact, the scale that the company is gunning for in the UK is at least on par with that model, which it is directly competing with.

In order to maintain the element of surprise — in a call with Collins my reaction to his pitch was to describe the concept as “like Christmas every other month” — the company is remaining tight-lipped about what exactly is in its first box. When pressed, however, Collins had this to say: “We’ve got a range of brands, so quite a bit of variety across the boxes, including major book publishers, collectibles (cards and figures), two music labels, two games publishers and one clothing company. And it’s not just about big brands. What’s really cool is that we’re also bringing two completely new companies to our community in the first box.”

In other words, should Box Of Awesome pan out, it could potentially be a way for startups to not only use the service to help launch, but also to piggyback the bigger brands that make up the majority of the box and provide the pull to get kids interested in the first place. Presuming, of course, that the expense isn’t too prohibitive; currently it’s the brands that pick up the tab, though it’s conceivable that if there is enough demand a paid-for subscription model could be adopted to help soften this.

“Fundamentally, we’re curating a collection of genuinely awesome products for our community so it’s a great way of mixing established and new”, adds Collins.

Alongside Collins, who is funding the startup via his private equity vehicle OMAC Investments, Box Of Awesome is co-founded by Nic Mitham, a virtual worlds marketing consultant.

Prior to Box Of Awesome, Collins has founded and sold three companies: Jolt Online Gaming (acquired by GameStop), DemonWare (acquired by Activision Blizzard), and mobile messaging company Phorest (acquired by MBO).

 

http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/14/boa/

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