Trade Tatler
“Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Ronald Reagan



THIS ISSUE:     26 Nov - 02 Dec

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Clicks  The Dunkirk spirit

New Clicks has claimed top spot for the second year running in the CRF Leading Managers ranking, CRF being a research-based publishing outfit which knows a thing or two about this sort of thing. One of the brass on the selection panel mentioned that steely self-discipline and the ability to trust oneself in times of crisis are just the ticket in an effective CEO, and these are the sort of qualities Mr Kneale, who shared the accolade with his senior management team, has in spades. The Kneale Method, summarised in handy bullets below, is worth a squizz for the budding leader of men: • Have a clear goal and pursue it relentlessly • Get the basics right and be disciplined • Be in tune with your customers and staff • Recruit the right people for the right roles • Invest in employee development • Have a rewards strategy • Pursue a philosophy that integrates all the elements that attract, motivate and retain the people required to achieve the desired business results
Comment: Sound stuff from a business that all the analysts are making appreciative harrumphing sounds about right now.

The Sunday Times 29/11/09

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Massmart  A Nightmare before Christmas

Massmart are very responsibly, but not very cheerfully, looking at what might be coming their way over Christmas, and what, perhaps more to the point, might not. After 21 weeks, ending November 22, in which comparable sales fell 0.7%, they are asking the tricky questions – like to what extent will Christmas spending by the employed balance the lack thereof by the unemployed? How will food deflation make itself felt on the bottom line? And what will be the effect on sales of the ongoing consumer credit crunch? The difficulty this year has been in predicting sales, and the holiday season is proving no different. On the upside, Massmart have said that they are noticing the first glimmerings of a turnaround in home improvement and general merchandise, in both of which areas the group is more exposed than competitors like Shoprite.
Comment: Massmart’s transparency is refreshing in a business environment characterised by petty and often needless secrecy.

Business Day 26/11/09

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Tiger Brands (1)  Nothing to see here...

There is no truth in the rumour that Shoprite and Tiger are doing a deal for the distribution of Tiger Brands’ brands in Nigeria, which is not a large, oil rich west African country, in which Shoprite does not have a handful of existing stores. There were no reports in the press this week about a possible partnership between the two, which Tiger did not hasten to deny almost immediately, although if they had, it would probably have been because they would have been eager to reassure their other important customers that Shoprite was getting no special treatment. What we may tell you, however, is that Tiger CEO Peter Matlare has said that Tiger are looking for a retail partner in Nigeria with the necessary experience, something similar to what, oh, say, that nice Mr Basson has over at the Shoprite in Abuja.
Comment: Glad that’s all cleared up then. Not that there was anything to clear up.

Business Day 26/11/09, 27/11/09

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Tiger Brands (2)  It’s a jungle out there

While consumer demand weakened in the second half, Tiger Brands has reported turnover growth of 8% to R20.43 billions in the year to end September, boosted by turnover from recent acquisitions in Kenya and Cameroon. Turnover from continuing FMCG operations (excluding Oceana), grew 12%, while profits also rose 8% to R2.5 billion. Milling was a pleasing contributor, with profits at the company’s grains businesses rising 41% to R1.4 billion as strapped consumers traded out of pricier staples like rice and into maize. In the light of this, Tiger’s decision to expand milling capacity (to the tune of R561 million for a wheat mill in the Cape) makes a lot of sense. The Striped One is, however, a leetle concerned about the ongoing ability of the SA consumer to do the right thing by the shareholders in these straitened times.
Comment: But hell, man, how are those grains!

Business Day 25/11/09

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Simba  Crunch time

Grim winter weather and short plantings have put a damper on this year’s potato crop, which once meant famine for all of Ireland and St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Boston, but now means no crisps for you these holidays. Simba have alerted customers to the fact that their Cape Town plant is battling to meet demand and that they might battle to meet the required service levels over the next couple of weeks. Massmart have mentioned that they’re short of chips, although imports have sorted them out on the frozen front, while Shoprite have said they’re doing fine, with both volumes and prices improving after the shortage. Last year’s low potato prices, as well as a surge in production cost of more than 40%, caused famers to plant less of our subterranean chums this year.
Comment: Comment: Pretzels all round then, these holidays. A damned shame.

Business Report 27/11/09

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Hulamin  Emitting cries of pain

Hulamin and transport and shipping magnates Grindrod have somewhat hurtfully been struck off the JSE’s Socially Responsible Investment Index, the latter because it reported qualitatively rather than quantitatively on emissions from its fleet of ships and trucks – although carbon emissions are not yet a measure on the Index. Grindrod is appealing, and Hulamin hurt, because they feel they are ahead of the pack in some areas, notably empowerment. And Brait, the swashbuckling private equity fellers who were eyeing up Shoprite some time ago, have quit the Index in protest, suggesting that it may have become a forum for cheap shots, quote unquote. In the meantime, some luminaries of the FMCG industry, notably The Clicks Group and Rainbow, have joined the Index.
Comment: The danger with indices like this is that they become a blunt weapon in well-intentioned hands, and a somewhat sharper one in those less well-intentioned. He said cryptically.

Business Report 01/12/09

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Chicken  Aw, shucks!

The chicken farmers of the US are angry. And when they get angry, they go to the WT of O, where they are protesting the anti-dumping tariffs of between R2.24 to R6.96 levied on frozen and deboned portions of chicken by the RS of A. They reckon they’ve changed their thievin’ ways since the investigations of tariffs began in 1999, and said tariffs now only disadvantage the South African consumer. Also, the good ‘ol boys maintain that we’ve violated the 2006 sunset tariff, in ways too complex for non-poultry fellers to understand. However, the SA Poultry association maintains that the tariffs apply only on dumped and not legitimately imported stuff.
Comment: It’s protectionistic when they do it, protective when we do it.

Fin 24 27/11/09

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Nola  Whip it good

Big up to Nola, makers of tasty spreads and dressings, whose new packaging allows the products to stand out on shelf, distinguish themselves in the mind of consumers yet still remind the punters of the good old days when the brand they love was in its original livery. Classy, what do you think?

Tatler Reporter 01/12/09

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