Kochie and what’s pressing Australian retailers

I am fortunate to be able to talk to small and large business via Smartcompany but also appear on David Koch’s Channel 7 program Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) from time to time.

From the TV, KBB content flows through Yahoo!7 from the KBB website onto mobile devices. Over the past six years, KBB has become a sound and trusted source of information for small to medium businesses across Australia.

The interesting thing for me is that Kochie has, along with the demands of fronting Australia’s highest rating morning TV show, chosen to invest his time, money and the efforts of his family in running and managing a family business: the production company that produces the KBB program.

It’s not easy when it’s your full-time job; let alone as an adjunct to a public career that involves crazy hours, as well as significant and constant change. But Kochie manages to keep his finger on how business is faring at the coalface in Australia. Kochie and his family have moved the company along the technology curve, embracing mobile communication and the internet to ensure that the business remains relevant.

Last week I attended a Kochie lunch, under Chatham House rules, with a wide collection of people who gave an incredibly broad synopsis of what is happening in Australian business today.

Under Chatham House rules I can’t name the attendees but, a bit like Cluedo, the characters included one of Australia’s most successful venture capitalists, a Federal Government minister, the CEO of a state small business advocacy and support department, a successful small business owner from a regional area, an economist from one of our big four banks, a retail banker from another one of our big four banks and a very successful technology incubator. Just reading that list gives you a sense of the diverse set of perspectives that were shared over the three hour facilitated discussion.

With regard to retail there were some areas of agreement across the divide and a couple of polarised views. It is agreed that we are going through huge change in retail to which many retailers are struggling to adapt.

It was also broadly agreed that our retail sector was playing catch-up with the rest of the world, purely as the result of the combination of the internet and the US and AU dollar parity. There was agreement that landlords, from mum and dad shop owners to Westfield, were all changing their approach to the way and the rate at which retail properties are rented.

It was also agreed that at an enterprise level, within each individual retailer, some were carefully and calmly adapting, restructuring and looking for lessons then applying them to improve their own retail business. These retailers were taking the best from the internet and applying it to their business, while, amazingly, some internet retailers were opening bricks and mortar stores, but with very different locations and configurations to traditional retailers.

Retail is tough and one diner even made it clear that having been badly bitten investing in this sector they would never again invest in a retailer. However, many of these challenges are being overcome and new formats are being successfully developed, so we will always have a retail sector that is relevant to our shopping needs.

So next time Kochie is talking to you about business large and small via the TV in the morning, remember he isn’t just doing his job. He lives and breathes this stuff every day, and he’s a wealth of insightful expert information and advice.

As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.



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