Squiz Today / 15 September 2017

Squiz Today – Friday, 15 September


“Unmanned pantry box”

A US start up has raised $2.5 million to take their idea to the world – and people are furious. Bodega, the company founded by two ex-Google staffers, want to replace the local bodega (kinda like a corner store) with their unmanned pantry box (what everyone besides the start up entrepreneurs call a vending machine) into apartment blocks. The interwebs went wild…


Myer yesterday delivered its worst financial result since floating on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2009. The lowlights are:

• Its net profit for the 2016-17 financial year was just $11.9 million dollars – down more than 80% on last year.

• Comparable sales (when you take a set number of stores and compare) were slightly down by 0.2%, and were down 1.4% in total because it closed three stores during the year.

• The big hit to its profit came from having to write off investments (think Topshop going into administration and a disappointing year from sass & bide). And it also had to write off some of the value attributed to Myer brand. 

Myer's profit has been on a consistent downward slide since a high of $163 million in 2009-10. All in all, it was a shocker.

When new boss Richard Umbers took the reins at Myer a couple of years ago he kicked off a yuuuge $600 million turnaround program. It promised things like buying into Topshop, improving its offer to customers, better service in stores as well as an improved online experience. But it hasn’t been enough, and some things (like the Topshop deal) have taken them backwards. To stop some of the bleeding it will close some stores. Umbers says he’s disappointed, but how’s this for a glass-half-full outlook: “Myer has become a leaner, more productive and efficient retailer, better placed to compete in a rapidly changing environment.” Good for him.

Discretionary retailing in Australia has been under pressure for years. And Myer isn't alone - Target and Big W are also struggling with similar-ish problems. Offshore online retailers have been cutting their lunch (or is that eating their grass?) for a long time now. A problem for Myer is it isn’t part of a bigger retail conglomerate like Woolworths South Africa (which owns David Jones), Woolworths Group (which owns Big W) or Wesfarmers (which owns Target and Kmart). So they have nothing to tap for support in the hard times. And (*trumpet fanfare*) Amazon is coming! That has everyone wondering what the future might hold. But one thing remains constant – retailers delivering good products at good prices in a way that customers like tend to do well. Sounds so easy, right?


Australia was shocked in late 2015 when 12yo Tiahleigh Palmer’s body was found on the banks of a river on the Gold Coast and her foster father Rick Thorburn was charged with her murder. Yesterday, her foster brother Trent Thorburn pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years jail for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Judge Craig Chowdhury said Tiahleigh’s killing followed Trent’s incest confession to his mother and that he had taken part in "a sustained, immoral and disgraceful plan". And in a busy day in Queensland courts, Brenden Bennetts was found guilty of murdering 16yo Gatton schoolgirl Jayde Kendall in 2015. He was given a life sentence.

There couldn’t have been a better gift for PM Malcolm Turnbull to mark two years in the job yesterday. Australia added 54,200 new jobs in August – the biggest surge in two years, and more than twice what was expected. Unemployment stayed steady at 5.6% due to a lift in the participation rate. 

KUALA LUMPUR  SCHOOL FIRE KILLS 24 – The fire broke out yesterday morning trapping students and teachers in their dormitory. The toll includes 22 boys aged 13-17yo. Police are investigating the fire which is thought to have started by a short circuit or a lit mosquito coil.

SHKRELI DETAINED OVER CLINTON THREATS – This one’s straight from the weird files. Former pharmaceutical exec Martin Shkreli has been all over the US news recently after he was convicted last month of securities fraud. His claim to fame was hiking the price of a lifesaving antiparasitic drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Last week, he posted to Facebook that he would pay $5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair. A judge said he posed a danger to the community and revoked his bail.

MAN BOOKER SHORTLIST NAMED – Two debut novelists made the shortlist of six this year. Imagine achieving that – TBH we’d do a Harper Lee. The list is: 4321 by Paul Auster; History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund; Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; Elmet by Fiona Mozley; Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Autumn by Ali Smith. There’s your Christmas shopping list sorted.

PRECIOUS GIFT FOR SELENA GOMEZ – Pop star Selena Gomez (former girlfriend of Justin Beiber/Taylor Swift Squad member/musician in her own right) revealed on social media yesterday that bestie/actress Francia Raisa had donated her a kidney following complications from Lupus. That’s what friends are for.

Remember that study years ago that said Hormone Replacement Therapy was dangerous and led to more cases of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke? Well the Journal of the American Medical Association this week published a big18-year study showing that women on HRT had similar rates of death from those conditions (and all others) as those who took placebos. Dr JoAnn Manson (who was part of the original research group) said; “Women want to know – is this medication going to kill me? And the answer appears to be no.” No doubt HRT will continue to have its critics, but it’s good to be informed about the options.

AFL FINALS WITH AIDO - In a quaint throwback to the 1980s, we could name this weekend's AFL finals weekend the "It's a Knockout" round because this weekend is all about eliminations. Geelong play Sydney tonight at the MCG. Geelong will want to bounce back from their big loss to Richmond last week, but the Swans are in fine form and start as firm favourites - even while playing away from home. And Greater Western Sydney face West Coast with a home ground advantage but they’re carrying a few injuries. West Coast is resurgent after last week's extra-time win. The winner of this clash gets to face Richmond (and their Tiger Army of supporters) at the MCG next week - a daunting task.

NRL FINALS WITH GIBBO – Well, the spectacular standard of the games last weekend bodes well for exciting footy tonight and tomorrow night. I’m a deadset New South Welshwoman so it is really hard to pick the Brisbane Broncos to beat the Penrith Panthers tonight. The Broncos ditched the now Panthers coach Anthony Griffin to bring back Wayne Bennett - wouldn’t Griffin like to give it to Wayne up there in Brisbane. On Saturday night, I can’t back the North Queensland Cowboys, but you have to admire their determination. The Parramatta Eels just seem to be on a roll and are playing exciting footy. And given all the Eels games I went to as a young chick, I’m on the Eels bandwagon this weekend.

GO THE MATILDAS – Our national women’s soccer side plays Brazil tomorrow night in a friendly match in Penrith – and the 17,000-capacity stadium has sold out. How good is that! The Matildas are on fire having won the Tournament of Nations last month, including a win over Brazil. The two teams will face off again next Tuesday night in Newcastle. 

MIKE TANCRED LEAVES AOC – And while we have you… it was confirmed yesterday that Australian Olympic Committee media manager Mike Tancred will leave his job with a reported $500,000 payout. His role at the AOC had been under review following accusations of bullying.

The ‘fake news’ business model is fascinating – and pretty terrifying. This excellent online report explains it simply and succinctly.

Pippa Middleton has had a haircut – gasp! No, it’s far from headline news but we’re always on the lookout picture galleries on the latest iteration of the good ole bob. Besides, now the eyebrows are under control (for the moment) it’s probably time to book a haircut.

The editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure mag Nathan Lump has spilled the beans on his trusty travel items. We can attest to the brilliance of the Sephora screen wipes. Travelling with a cute little shoe horn seems aspirational - we’ll keep working on that…



Senators Fiona Nash and Nick Xenophon's citizenship cases before the High Court

International Day of Democracy


3.00pm (AEST) - Women's Soccer - Australian Matildas v Brazil - Penrith 

8.00pm (AEST) - Rugby Union - Wallabies v Argentina - Canberra

Opening of Floriade - Canberra (on until 13 October)

Oktoberfest - Munich (on until 3 October)

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

Guacamole Day (technically a US day, but also an excuse to add this link again...)

Saturday and Sunday - Clean Up The World Weekend


Australian Citizenship Day

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