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Australia no longer sweet spot for Asos

Australia was once Asos’ largest market outside Britain. In 2012, the British online fashion retailer was flying four jumbo jets of clothing to this country each week.

But Asos revealed this week international sales, comprising 57 per cent of its total sales, were down 2 per cent in the first quarter to £145.5 million ($266.8 million).

And “rest of world” sales, of which Australia is estimated to comprise half, fell by 6 per cent to £58.5 million ($110.4 million) in the three months ended November 30.

This followed a 5 per cent fall in the previous quarter. Previously, “rest of world” had grown for at least 2.5 years – by up to 113 per cent in 2012.

Asos chief executive Nick Robertson told the market international trading conditions remained challenging, with the strength of the pound, making its products more expensive to import, the big story.

“We have commenced investment into our international pricing and have started to roll out our zonal pricing capability, which combined will help us to address our international performance.”

Aldi introduced zonal, or Australian dollar-denominated, pricing in this country last month, although broker Deutsche said it was too early to tell if this would have a significant benefit.

But Deustche said pressure on Asos’ Australian sales was helpful for domestic apparel retailers, which include Myer, Premier Investments and Sportsgirl.

“Asos’ value proposition to Australians has been diluted by the foreign exchange moves and we expect the trend would be similar across other offshore retailers selling into Australia,” analyst Michael Simotas said.

“Asos’ heavy price investment could improve sales, which would not be helpful for domestic retailers but it has a large Australia business (estimated at about $200 million), which it needs to protect.”

The arrival of international brands such as Uniqlo have also meant Australians don’t need to go overseas to get overseas prices.

The results come after the NAB online retail index, entering its third year, shows a correlation between the a strong Australian dollar and online orders to international retailers. Many analysts are expecting the Australian dollar to fall to a six-year low of US70 cents next year.

“We’re noting that there appears to be some relationship between the value of the currency and online sales,” Peter King, NAB’s consumer sectors Australia head, said.

“The market economists are suggesting that the [Australian] currency has further to fall, but you’ve got to remember that there are any number of factors that go into creating a retail sale. For example, if you saw a massive increase in marketing by Australian retailers, maybe that would be the real reason why sales are picking up rather than just the currency alone coming down.”

Asos, which was founded more than a decade ago, wants to become the world’s leading fashion destination for 20-somethings and is targeting £2.5 billion in sales.

Tonk: M.S. Dhoni top scorer on the burger board

M.S. Dhoni’s fancy fare: the humble chicken burger.Malcolm Knox: Tourists give first hint they have packed tons of starchThe Tonk: M.S. Dhoni top scorer on the chicken burger boardChloe Saltau: Day two stumps report

England had the “Quinoa and Cranberry Breakfast Bar”, the “Mung Bean Curry with Spinach” and “Pistachio and Ginger Biscotti” when they toured, M.S. Dhoni has the humble chicken burger. There is certainly nothing fancy about the culinary habits of the Indian captain. Spies have told the Tonk that while the rest of the Indian team and staff are happy with the fare offered to them by the South Australian Cricket Association, Dhoni has his own special orders. He’ll wash down his two chicken burgers – yes, we are talking about an elite athlete – with a can of Coke and a serving of vanilla ice-cream. Dhoni’s appetite has reminded the Tonk of one state player who made more than half a dozen trips to the canteen at Bankstown Oval one day during a Shield game a few years back, returning each time with a chicken burger in hand.

Warne aims high

Shane Warne has attacked the International Cricket Council over its refusal to adopt a universal ruling on the Decision Review System. The leg-spin great said it was time the game’s governing body flexed its muscle regarding DRS as there was an uneven playing field across the world, affecting the relevance of players’ statistics. The use of DRS requires the agreement of the boards of the competing nations but the steadfast opposition by the Board of Control for Cricket in India means it is not applied in games featuring India, and thus the system is not being used in this Test series. “It doesn’t matter if you agree with DRS or not, what does matter is that everyone should have to play by the same rules,” Warne said during the Channel Nine broadcast. “Everyone should be playing with it or no one should be playing with it – simple as that.” India’s opposition is based on the belief the technology is not accurate and because they believe it challenges the authority of the umpire. “Our tactic is to make DRS as good as it possibly can and then hopefully down the line people will be persuaded it is a system that can be used,” ICC chief David Richardson said. “Who knows? Maybe in five to 10 years the technology has advanced to such an extent we can leave it to umpires to initiate the review process.”

Healy wants volume down

Ian Healy, whose cries of “bowling Warnie” became part of the soundtrack of summer in the 1990s, believes there is too much on-field talk in the modern game. The wicketkeeping great wants to see the volume turned down on what he describes as “excessive white noise”. And, Healy says, it’s a problem that has filtered down to club cricket. Healy, a regular watcher of junior cricket while his son Tom was rising through the ranks, says there is “incessant talk” out on the field. “I think some coaches coach it. Keep the noise up so there’s a whole lot of bloody crap going on,” Healy told the Tonk. “Too often it’s just general nonsense, excessive nonsense and chat rather than being constructive.” The Queenslander said he once had to pull his son in line after he welcomed a new batsman to the crease by encouraging his teammates to “knock his bails to NSW”, which the Tonk does not believe is a bad line, especially for a youngster. “I said ‘you can’t say that, let him play’,” Healy said.  Reminded of his constant encouragement of Shane Warne, Healy said it was relevant because the champion spinner was generally bowling well.

Bookish Buck

Chris Rogers is reaffirming his status as the most bookish type in the Australian dressing room. The opener spends his time in the dressing room either doing crosswords, attacking Sudokus or reading. He is now flicking between Stephen King’s The Stand and a biography on Alan Turing, a British mathematician, computer scientist and cryptanalyst. Turing’s work was credited by Winston Churchill as being pivotal in the Allies winning several important battles against Nazi Germany during World War II.

Twitter: @_TheTonk

Thunderstorms to hit Australian PGA Championship

Inclement weather could play havoc with the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, with up to 200 millimetres of rain forecast to hit south-east Queensland in the next 24 hours.

Impending thunderstorms brought a halt to proceedings early in the afternoon of the first day’s play, with players being called from the course in the interests of safety.

However, another band of storms, expected to hit in the early hours of Friday, are expected to cause further disruption, with damaging winds and flash flooding likely.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting falls of more than 100 millimetres on Friday, with other forecasters predicting up to double that in some areas.

Further falls are predicted on Saturday, mostly in the morning, potentially pushing the event back to a Monday finish.

Tournament director Andrew Langford-Jones said that while that was possible, he was confident the event would be completed on time.

“We’re very confident, we’ve had much worse than this,” he said. “We lost all of Thursday in its entirety a few years ago, and a little bit of Friday, and still finished 72 holes by 5 o’clock on Sunday.

“So at this stage there’s no thoughts that it will be going into Monday. It would if we needed to, [but] there is absolutely no thought of it being reduced to 54 holes at this stage.

“There is plenty of scope in the time we’ve gone left, especially as we’ve completed the morning round; all the morning scores are now in.

Langford-Jones praised the course’s ability to cope with the weather.

“The course has handled the rain beautifully; we can’t believe how good the course is, especially the front nine. The new front nine has been sensational; the bunkers have needed no draining all week.

“There’ll obviously be a bit of work to be done on the back nine if we get enough rain, but the crew up there are quite proficient at cleaning the bunkers up, they’ve had plenty of practice over the years, so we don’t envisage that that will be a major problem

“As long as there’s an area within the bunker to drop the ball, we’ll be playing golf.”

American Boo Weekley leads the event after firing a six-under 66 on the first morning, with world No.3 Adam Scott among five Australians two shots further back.

Trainer Joe Pride sure his rising star can muscle up

Stomping ground: Tommy Berry shows Brisbane racegoers his winning style on Stradbroke day in June. He will be back in the Queensland capital this week. Photo: Tertius Pickard Stomping ground: Tommy Berry shows Brisbane racegoers his winning style on Stradbroke day in June. He will be back in the Queensland capital this week. Photo: Tertius Pickard

Stomping ground: Tommy Berry shows Brisbane racegoers his winning style on Stradbroke day in June. He will be back in the Queensland capital this week. Photo: Tertius Pickard

Stomping ground: Tommy Berry shows Brisbane racegoers his winning style on Stradbroke day in June. He will be back in the Queensland capital this week. Photo: Tertius Pickard

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

Joe Pride is attempting to take Ball Of Muscle through his grades with a minimum of fuss this summer,  and was surprised when he saw the field taking on the progressive sprinter at Randwick on Saturday. “It has really dropped away, I thought it might be stronger than that,” Pride said. “I want to get him a couple of wins and get his rating up without having to take on the real ones. That’s why I didn’t put him in the Razor Sharp.”  Ball Of Muscle, a son of Dubawi and a half-brother to group-1 winning sprinters Terravista and Tiger Tees,    has won five of his seven starts. “He has to do it himself and he shouldn’t be compared to the other two, but it is always going to happen,” Pride said. “Like all my horses I want to get him in the right races at the right time and I think I have done that on Saturday.”

Autumn plans for filly

Gwenda Markwell has her eyes on the autumn with Minnesota, which comes to Randwick after a couple of wins at the provincials. The Snitzel filly is owned by her breeder, Ross McConville, the biggest supporter of the Markwell yard. “She is a really nice filly and it is a good time for her to come to town,” she said.  “We are looking at some of the good races in the autumn with her and this will give us a good guide to where she is at because it is quite a good field. She has been doing it easily at Hawkesbury and Gosford. Taylor [Marshall] has ridden her at both those wins and it is good to have him on again, and his three-kilo claim is another plus.”

Berry’s surprise weekend

Tommy Berry will be on a mission at Doomben on Saturday – just not the one he thought. Berry passed up the chance to ride at the lucrative Villiers Stakes meeting in Sydney to partner Magic Millions contender Carriages for Gai Waterhouse in a Brisbane lead-up. But the filly did not accept for Saturday’s meeting after suffering a minor setback and while  this will not derail her Magic Millions Classic tilt, it has put a dampener on Berry’s weekend plans, which have been dealt a further blow by the early scratching of his Brisbane Handicap mount Mouro. “He was probably my best ride other than the filly [Carriages],” he said. “It hasn’t worked out that well but anyway, we’ll just try to work with what we’ve got. I’ve got a few nice rides there still.” He will look to his remaining six runners to salvage something from his Brisbane trip and the Bryan Guy-trained Stroak in the fifth could deliver.

ATC board finalised  

Racing minister Troy Grant has addressed a lack of marketing experience on the Australian Turf Club board and installed two government-appointed directors, while Laurie Macri returns for another four years. In a clear message, Trish Egan and Matthew McGrath, who both have strong business and marketing experience, were appointed to three-year terms on the ATC board. Egan has a strong resume of working in multinational companies in England and Australia. McGrath has grown his business, going from one Telstra shop to eight in the past 10 years.  Macri’s return is no surprise as he is ATC vice-chairman and has a wealth of experience as the head of capital markets at Macquarie Group.  Grant said there was a strong set of applicants for the positions and the board was well equipped.   “The ATC now have a very strong board  … with a stellar line up for the 2015 calendar, including The Championships,” he said. “I have every confidence the board will capitalise on the great talent in its ranks. I thank all those who were involved in this process, including applicants, selection-panel members, probity advisers and employees within the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for the way in which this process was conducted.”

with AAP

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Maritime union lockout exacerbates dispute

An industrial dispute between waterfront workers and DP World is set to escalate after the company locked out striking union members at Port Botany on Thursday.

Warren Smith, the assistant national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, said workers were prepared to step-up industrial action if the company continued to refuse to negotiate on agreed award conditions.

Workers had planned to stop work for four out of each of three eight-hour shifts across a 24-hour period. But the company retaliated by locking workers out for the 12 hours they were prepared to work.

It means workers will not return to the Port Botany terminal in Sydney until 6am on Friday.

It is understood the company is seeking mediation of the dispute in the Fair Work Commission.

Mr Smith said 40 per cent of workers were potentially facing the loss of jobs and were not willing to give up existing penalty rates and redundancy entitlements in their award conditions.

“This is a workforce facing automation,” he said. “The company has locked us out for four hours out of each shift.”

Mr Smith said the strike on Thursday was designed to force the company to the negotiating table.

“We are looking at preparing to take more action if necessary if the company refuses to sit down with us,” he said.

“DP World management has been deliberately provocative and hostile throughout the negotiation process. They won’t meet us.”

The MUA also launched protected industrial action at DP World terminals in Melbourne and Fremantle on Thursday over what it says is the company’s “insistence on taking away penalty rates, increasing hours of work and their failure to adequately re-shape the workforce with the introduction of automation”.

Mr Smith said long-held selection processes for promotion and training were being attacked.

“This dispute isn’t about money – it is about hours of work, job security, and automation of the waterfront with no fair redundancy provisions in place when hundreds of workers will get the sack,” he said.

“We understand the inevitability of automated technology but that does not mean loyal workers should be randomly thrown on the scrapheap in an exercise of excising delegates and union activists from the workplace while managers steal their jobs. Nor does it mean the workers who are left should not benefit from the massive productivity gains that automation delivers.

“The proposals we have put to the company around automation deal with the manner in which automation is negotiated and introduced. Our main demands around automation are job-saving reductions in hours of work; and job security.”

DP World Australia said it lodged an application for conciliation with the Fair Work Commission on Thursday. He said a 2.8 per cent pay rise on offer was generous and above CPI.

“After 11 months of negotiation, the quickest way to resolve this fairly is with the assistance of a balanced and independent umpire,” managing director Paul Scurrah said.

“We don’t believe the MUA is being reasonable in their action, nor are they being upfront about all of the detail in this deal.”

Mr Scurrah said DP Australia will close its Fremantle terminal from 6am on Tuesday, December 16 until 6am on Wednesday, December 17 in response to strike action planned for this Friday.

“We have deliberately chosen a day when no vessel is expected to be alongside to minimise the impact it has on our customers,” he said.

“We regret that this action has become necessary. We have been very clear from the outset of our negotiations with the MUA and elected employee representatives that any protected action would be met with employer response action.”