Squiz Today / 15 February 2018

Squiz Today – Thursday, 15 February


“When I put my hands on that little dog he sold himself to me.”

It’s not as creepy as it sounds… That’s what New York’s Westminster Dog Show 'best-in-show' judge Betty-Anne Stenmark said of winner Flynn, a bichon frise. The seven finalists are pictured here. And for more pics of fabulous pups and their humans click here.


Myer’s CEO Richard Umbers yesterday stepped down with the board saying it is impatient for a turnaround in the retailer's performance. Chair Gary Hounsell, who has only been on the board since November, said he would take the reins while searching for a new CEO. Hounsell also said Umbers’ strategy, launched nearly three years ago, is the right one. The trick, he said, is to refresh it and go faster.

That’s exactly what we were thinking. Umbers’ five-year, $600 million ‘New Myer’ strategy wasn’t complicated. He wanted to:

• Stock items that customers like.

• Make the stores nice to shop in.

• Improve online shopping.

• Close unprofitable stores.

• Cut head office staff numbers and costs.

But it’s clearly been a horror to implement. And in recent months their sales have been poor, profits are falling, many of the stores aren’t great to shop in and their share price has dropped from about $2.50 four years ago to 54c yesterday. Yikes…

Hounsell says the company is not about to collapse. Which will be a relief to its 12,500 staff and 50,000 shareholders. One shareholder (albeit one who owns about 10%) not relieved is former Coles Myer chairman Solomon Lew and his Premier Investments. Lew blasted the board yesterday saying; "Any remaining doubt that Myer is in peril should now be removed from the minds of all of shareholders." He wants Hounsell out and his people appointed to the board. Meanwhile, Myer hasn’t said how much Umbers’ leave and termination payments will amount to. But he’ll be serving out his 12 months notice period from the garden.


That’s how Bridget McKenzie, the deputy to the Deputy PM, described the reaction of some in the party to Barnaby Joyce's personal situation. But look, people in glasshouses are worth two in the hand so we’re not going to fault her for some snappy wordplay. There was a lot of yabbering in Canberra yesterday about Joyce – if you’re super-keen to you can catch up on the ins-and-outs here. But the day wasn’t an entirely cry-free zone. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo teared up while giving a speech about the heart surgery his then 20-week-old son had to have. Which in turn reduced Health Minister Greg Hunt to tears. Someone give those guys a hug.

And Australian businessman James Packer is caught up in the scandal after allegedly giving PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife $90,000 in gifts, including tickets to see former fiancé Mariah Carey perform (an experience worth a good deal more than $90k, surely...). Israeli police believe there is enough evidence for prosecutors to pursue bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges against Netanyahu in two separate cases, one of which centres around Packer. Authorities say Packer will not be charged but he may be called as a witness. Netanyahu said the whole thing "will end with nothing".

Already reeling from revelations aid workers in the British charity had taken advantage of vulnerable Haitians (sorry for the vagueness but it’s to get past your spam cop), things have gone from bad to worse for Oxfam. Its deputy CEO resigned on Monday. And on Tuesday international chairman Juan Alberto Fuentes was arrested in his home country of Guatemala on unrelated corruption charges. Which brings us to yesterday when actress Minnie Driver stood down as an ambassador saying she was “nothing short of horrified” about the Haiti allegations. That’s officially a bad week.

Husband of Queen Margrethe, father of Prince Frederik and dad-in-law of Crown Princess (our) Mary – Prince Henrik of Denmark has died at 83yo. He had been diagnosed with a benign tumour two weeks ago and was brought home from a holiday. He famously said last year that he did not want to be buried next to the Queen in protest against not being recognised as her equal, but the palace later said he had dementia. Reports say he liked food, wine and art. Sounds alright to us. Vale Prince Henrik.

Aussie Winter Olympics team flag bearer Scotty James’ halfpipe glory was incredible to watch. It’s the event where crazy people launch themselves on a snowboard down an ice track with steep walls and do gnarly spinning tricks all the way down. The winner, American Shaun White, pulled out all the stops to take the gold and has been called the “greatest snowboarder ever” for his efforts.

Author, actress, TV producer and activist Lena Dunham has written in US Vogue about her decision to have a hysterectomy to end her battle with endometriosis. It follows years of operations, pain and a fruitless search for treatment therapies. She says she will investigate her options to have kids, whether that be via harvesting her eggs or adoption. “I may have felt choice less before, but I know I have choices now,” she said.


12.30pm (AEDT) - Sam Rainsy, the Cambodian Opposition Leader in Exile, will address the National Press Club on ‘Leading the fight to resuscitate democracy in Cambodia’ - Canberra

ABS Data Releases - Labour Force, January; Preschool Education, 2017

Anniversary of the birthday of American women's suffrage campaigner, Susan B Anthony (1820)

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