PRIVATE PLAYERS 2010: CONTINUED

Written on the 18 August 2011

APRIL 2010

MAGIC MILLIONS

MANAGING DIRECTOR: DAVID CHESTER
YEARLING SALES ’09: $74.8M
YEARLING SALES ’10: $75M
STAFF: 50+
ESTABLISHED: 1985

JANUARY’s Magic Million racing carnival remains one of the region’s key economic drivers.

An independent report finalised last September concluded Magic Millions had an immediate economic and social contribution of $52 million to Queensland.

Co-owner Gerry Harvey believes that once tourism and the long-term benefits to Queensland’s racing industry are factored in, the real value could be as high as $120 million.The carnival’s significance is not only found in its contribution to the local economy however.

The Magic Millions yearling auctions attract the biggest names in international racing to not only buy the race-proven Australian thoroughbreds; but to use the first auctions of the year to nervously anticipate the market strength for the coming season.

With famous racing names including Charles Laird, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Gai Waterhouse buying big, the 2010 BMW Magic Millions yearling auctions exceeded budget by $5 million and was labelled a positive litmus test for the southern hemisphere’s racing season.

While the top selling horse fell under the hammer at $925,000 (BC3); just short of the magic $1 million mark, event managing director and head auctioneer David Chester says a clearance rate of 82 per cent had thoroughbred breeders breathing a sigh of relief.

“What the high clearance rate means is that they don’t have to take too many horses home, the vendors wanted to sell and there were plenty of buyers around,” says Chester.

“Nobody knew what to expect with the pretty ordinary economy and we were pretty worried beforehand. As the first sales of the southern hemisphere season, had it not gone well there would have been a flow-on effect to the rest of the country and New Zealand. But the sales turned out a lot better than we expected.”

Magic Millions 2010 was not without controversy as colourful co-owners Harvey and John Singleton challenged the Bligh Government to match dollar for dollar the US$5 million prize money they donate yearly to the event.

Whether or not the government takes up the challenge to make the Magic Millions 2YO Classic the richest horse race in the world, the carnival will continue to be a hot spot for punters, turf enthusiasts and international racing identities alike.

GOLD COAST TITANS
MANAGING DIRECTOR: MICHAEL SEARLE
REVENUE: $20M
TOTAL STAFF: 200 + (STAFF AND PLAYERS)
INAUGURAL SEASON: 2007

THE Gold Coast Titans has continued to strengthen its membership and fan base following its most successful season on the field since its inception into the NRL in 2007.

Off the field and on the corporate front however, the coast’s NRL franchise is locked in a spiteful Supreme Court battle with Titans’ Centre of Excellence developers Simcorp over an alleged $4.2 million worth of work.

The Titans claim all current work on the Robina project has been paid. Following a preliminary hearing last month the case has been further delayed until later in the year. On a happier note, the Titans first-grade team has established itself as serious 2010 NRL premiership contenders after third on the table overall in last year’s season before bowing out of the finals contention in two straight losses.

On the eve of the 2010 season launch, further additions to the team including the controversial signing of former NSW State of Origin representative Greg Bird, have the Titans in arguably their best position since the inaugural season.

With two years remaining on the naming rights sponsorship contract with Jetstar and its growing presence in both the NRL and Gold Coast’s sporting community, the Gold Coast Titans will look to bury the ongoing Simcorp saga as soon as possible before further capitalising on its strong market.

GOLD COAST UNITED
CHAIRMAN: CLIVE PALMER
INAUGURAL SEASON: 09/10

DESPITE crashing out spectacularly in a penalty shoot-out with the Newcastle Jets, the Gold Coast United’s successful inaugural season has proven many points; the least of all that soccer most definitely has a place on the Gold Coast.

The devastating loss may linger in the players and fans thoughts until the opportunity arises for redemption, but the United’s big wigs will reap the benefits for quite some time.

Speaking to Gold Coast Business News from his corporate box in winning times, chairman Clive Palmer said ‘football’ brings the citizens of the world together by celebrating what they have in common rather than what’s different, but when it comes to the business side the answer is simple – tax losses.

“In a lot of business you make money, football’s one you lose money – instead of giving it to the government give it to the community to promote a sport that creates more peace and prosperity rather than violence,” says Palmer.

“At the moment it’s certainly a great loss making enterprise – you’re not going to make a profit this year or probably for the next five years but what you’re building up is good team work, cohesion and of course you’re bringing a certain profile, advertising and benefits you get.”

He adds that the sport creates great networking opportunities and a time to relax while watching a spectacle that’s good for your blood pressure and longevity of life.

Southern Cross University sports business specialist Dr Dave Arthur says Gold Coast United has a great opportunity to capture the South East Queensland soccer market.

“The sleeping giant has awoken and with the World Cup coming at the end of Gold Coast United’s first season – if their marketing department does their job right they’ll use the Socceroos in the side as a point of difference,” says Arthur.

GOLD COAST BLAZE
GENERAL MANAGER: KATIE TOMLINSON
STAFF: 30 (PLUS PLAYERS)
INAUGURAL SEASON: 07/08

PROFESSIONAL basketball returned to the Gold Coast in 2007 as the Gold Coast Blaze’s bid to join the National Basketball League (NBL) was made successful in November 2006.

The 2009/10 season may have been its best ever on the court but the real battle for the Blaze remains behind the scenes as the organisation continues its battle with the higher profile Titans and Gold Coast United for a slice of the sponsorship pie.

With crowd numbers getting tantalisingly close to the 5000 venue capacity in the season’s final series, general managing Katie Tomlinson says the Blaze is becoming a more significant part of the Gold Coast’s sporting community and expects the club to have a permanently strong presence in the arena.

“It helps when you’re a winning team, you get more support from the public and most sporting organisations will tell you that,” says Tomlinson.

“Aside from that we’ve done a lot of the work to make the Blaze more visible as an option in the Gold Coast’s sporting arena and build up our brand is starting to see positive results.”

Although not hindering the team’s performance, the Blaze is still without a naming rights sponsor.

“We’ve been approached by two or three potential major sponsors but have been waiting for a sponsor we deem suitable for the long term,’ says Tomlinson.

“We’ve got a naming rights sponsor in the wings who we are talking to and are hoping to make an announcement before next season. It would have been nice to have one for this season but we want to form a partnership that will be ongoing for many years.”

KPMG
MANAGING PARTNER: PAUL STEER
REVENUE ’09: $9.5M
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: STATIC
STAFF: 52
ESTABLISHED: 1961

WITH 350 partners and 4800 employees nation-wide, KPMG Australia is one of the country’s largest business advisory firms.

Locally, KPMG Gold Coast boasts around 700 clients. Managing partner Paul Steer says the firm’s clientele ‘transcends across all industry sectors’.

“As a business we are reflective of the economy and see a direct correlation,” says Steer.

“We have been taking the opportunity to develop our expertise and skill sets in many areas including the mining and health sectors.

“There are still challenges in many areas though the underlying businesses on the Gold Coast in a variety of sectors are still strong and the success of our firm is related to that.

“Business confidence won’t be restored in the short term but in the medium term sectors will continue to grow.”

In line with his peers in the accountancy and business advisory sector, Steer puts the emphasis on the banks to lift the economy in the short term.

“We have great medium term prospects that will have a very positive impact on local economy including the Gold Coast University Hospital and the establishment of the light rail (rapid transit project).

“A major underlying problem is the banks aren’t relieving the tough lending conditions and consumer confidence is soft.”

Steer, who is a board member of Gold Coast Tourism, says the strengths of the Gold Coast are often overlooked by those stressing on property development and construction.

In particular Steer emphasises the rich education resources on the Gold Coast in the form of world-class universities.

“The headline act is the negatives but there are some great things happening here also,” says Steer.

“The health, tourism and services industries continue to be strong and there is a readily available talent pool of employees due to the Gold Coast’s fantastic education sector.”

WMS
MANAGING DIRECTOR: AARON LAVELL
REVENUE ’09: $9.6M
FORECAST GROWTH: STATIC
STAFF: 65
ESTABLISHED: 1994

WMS was ranked the 50th largest firm in Australia in the most recent BRW survey and remains is the region’s leading privately-owned accountancy firm.

The company was formed in 1994 when Ernst & Young partners John Watter and Jeff McDermid retired from the professional services giant to form their own firm with Ernst & Young managers Aaron Lavell and David Brims.

The company has since diversified its operations to now include legal support, corporate finance and financial solutions arms all under the WMS Solutions brand.

Lavell, now the managing director, says difficulties over the last financial year affected the company’s profitability, but believes WMS is well placed to leverage off improved market conditions.

“2009 presented many challenges for the firm due to the large number of clients being involved in the property and tourism industries which were both deeply affected by the GFC and consequent lack of available external funding,” says Lavell.

“The firm has focused heavily in improving operational efficiencies, job turn around and retaining key clients and staff to ride out the difficult period.

“We took a strategic decision to retain all our senior staff without imposing reduced working hours or days in the office.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the back end of the 2010 calendar year as we been fortunate to have some recent success in attracting new clients and the corporate activity appears to be increasing in the market place.”

PKF
MANAGING DIRECTOR: MIKE SHEEHY
REVENUE ’09: $3.5-$4M
FORECASTED GROWTH ’10: STATIC
STAFF: 34
ESTABLISHED: 1999

NATIONAL leader in second tier accounting and business advisory PKF Australia has had its Gold Coast presence halved with the Southport firm leaving the partnership and joining the Moore Stephens network.

The Surfers Paradise firm is now the sole PKF representative in the region, of which its international network contains more than 300 offices across 120 countries.

Managing partner Mike Sheehy insists on not undervaluing the negative effects of the economic downturn, but says the firm has developed its service strategies and will be in a good position with the imminent recovery.

“In better times the focus was more on structuring acquisitions and new ventures rather than assisting them to be more effective and plan better what they’re doing,” says Sheehy.

“Now it’s reversed and we’re looking at how we can provide help for some of our clients businesses in adding value in addition to the compliance work. There is also a big push on business succession planning.

“Our audit division has grown and we’ve developed our expertise in that area and are starting to pick up more work particularly in assisting larger clients compile more complex financial reports.

“We’ve also developed good templates in a three-way forecasting model which is profit, cash and balance. Compliance work is still very strong and we’ve beefed up our tax consultancy division especially in the sphere of international taxation.”

Sheehy says 2010 is still generally very constrained in lending conditions and the amount of cash flow available in some sectors. He says the lack of transactional type work including special assignments, due diligence and capital-raising in comparison to 2008 is still a cause for concern.

“A number of our clients in property and construction especially took a hammering and as a result we suffered from that,” says Sheehy.

“Cash flow issues caused a big domino effect between the banks, developers, builders and the demand from the public; that took a lot of the gloss off our top clients in ‘09.

“We still have a feeling that in the least this calendar year is going to be constrained and it won’t improve until there is a general easing on property development and construction-which is the real lifeblood of the Gold Coast economy.”

LM INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT
CEO: PETER DRAKE
ESTABLISHED: 1998
FUM: APPROX $750M
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: MODERATE
STAFF: 80

HAVING received investment inflows from a further 11 countries in 2009, LM Investment Management continues to grow its international presence with global distribution to 43 countries.

New offices were also established in Tokyo and Johannesburg adding to the Surfers Paradise-based company’s additional Sydney, Hong Kong, Auckland, Dubai and London premises.

Company CEO Peter Drake, says LM Investment plans to take advantage of the number of positives Australia has to offer on the global fund management stage.

“While investor confidence continues to be shaken by ongoing losses across many asset types, there is continued global demand for investment products that benefit from the strength, resilience and diversity of Australia’s property markets and economy,” says Drake.

“For LM, this presents continued opportunity for future growth. The assets of all of the LM funds are in Australia.”

Drake says one such area of opportunity lies in the investment into Australia by Islamic corporations.

“Last year, LM was one of the first Australian fund managers to identify an opportunity to tap into the $55 billion global Islamic investment market, given significant interest amongst the world’s Islamic population to invest in Australia’s property markets,” he says.

“We launched our currency protected, Shariah compliant income fund, the LM Australian Alif Fund, which facilitates access to Australian business and property markets in a Shariah compliant manner.

Looking forward, Drake believes LM Investments experience in the international market will see the company continue to grow moderately.

“We continue to deliver, and are proud of our twelve year track record of zero volatility on unit prices for all LM funds,” says Drake.

“There are not many funds that can consistently claim this over any consecutive twelve year period. We are one of only a few who can claim this over the past 12 months.”

BARTERCARD
MANAGING DIRECTOR: BRIAN HALL
TRADE VOLUME ’09: $431.7M
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: 15%
TOTAL STAFF: 80
ESTABLISHED: 1991

FRESH from celebrating the global trading giants 19th year in operation, Bartercard founder and managing director Brian Hall talks up the company’s strategy for continual growth.

Bartercard is now trading in almost all Australian business sectors however the company is starting to see more significant activity in the property and manufacturing industries.

Hall says the benefits of trading in Bartercard are plentiful for those in real estate and property development.

“Real Estate is currently a difficult industry with lots of stock to move and prices being challenged. Builders and developers find it much easier to get pre sales and move stock when up to 20 per cent can be put on Bartercard,” says Hall.

“Manufacturers and builders can also get closer to the retail price with Bartercard as when we sell stock we are only interested in the transaction fees and pass on the full dividend.”

Bartercard expects to surpass the $8 billion mark in total trading since the company’s inception in 1991.

Although a formidable number, Hall says Bartercard will become bigger when the public is better educated on the company.

“We had a view or goal in 1991 to be the world’s largest trader and be just as well known as Visa and Mastercard,” says Hall.

“With volume and trading we should be doing more, but for any new industry it takes a while for people to understand what we do. They have perceptions and ideas, but don’t really understand.

“That education process is still our biggest challenge.

“The more business owners spend with Bartercard, the more business that can come to them. A major benefit of Bartercard is that it assists businesses to attract new customers which results in increased sales and improved cash-flow.”

BRUCE LYNTON GROUP
DEALER PRINCIPAL: BERIC LYNTON
TURNOVER 2009 BMW AND MINI DEALERSHIP: $86,228,848
LAND ROVER DEALERSHIP: $25,058,621
STAFF: 103
ESTABLISHED: 1974

BRUCE LYNTON Group dealer principal Beric Lynton grins when he talks of his great motor racing passion.

Crammed into a Mini, foot flat to the floor and pulling gears while powering over the hill at Bathurst. It can’t be all work and no play after all.

“You can’t believe how those things just stick to the circuit,” he says.

On the showroom floor Lynton has taken on the family-owned luxury car business and accelerated it to the top of the charts as the No.1 dealer on the Gold Coast.

In 2009 the dealership sold 100 of its 320 model and 115 of its X5 all wheel drive.

Up the road at Land Rover, the Range Rover Vogue proved a hit, as did the Land Rover Discovery.

Projecting a modest 5 per cent growth this year, Lynton and his team are gearing up for the national release of the new compact AWD, X1 on April 10 plus the new 5 Series GT at the end of this month.

While the Federal Government tax rebate gave the automotive industry the injection it needed in 2009 – this year the onus is back on the dealers.

“2009 was driven by the best thing that the government has done for the car industry with the tax rebate and the last three days of the year was just a mad house. But in 2010 we don’t have that, so it’s back on the dealers and the manufacturers to make it work,” he says.

Over the past three decades Bruce Lynton BMW has evolved and developed to secure status as Australia’s longest serving BMW dealer. The Bruce Lynton Group proudly celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2009.

“2009 for BMW was our 35th anniversary so obviously there’s a lot of history for the market and for the customers. We really try and concentrate on customer service because the Gold Coast is such a small place,” says Lynton.

“We’re not always going to get it right, we're humans. The product that we sell has got a lot of dynamic and innovative technology in it and sometimes its not 100 per cent, but we try our best and do what we can to make sure it’s the best it can be.”

This year the business will up the ante with a target of 690 vehicles at BMWs and 212 at Land Rover. Last year BMW sold 654, while 181 drove off the lot at Land Rover.

The release of the slick X6 resulted in 40 sales against a target of 14, making Lynton Group the No.1 seller of the vehicle in the country.

“It was always going to be a Gold Coast car, and there’s such a cross reference of customers. Families with empty nesters who have moved up in there chosen field of business and don’t need to put clients in the car all the time,” says Lynton.

“This year is exciting, we get more availability and a lot of stuff in the first few months has already been sold.”

JAMES FRIZELLE’S AUTOMOTIVE GROUP
JOINT DEALER PRINCIPLES: JAMES FRIZELLE AND BRETT FRIZELLE
ESTABLISHED: 1985
TURNOVER ’09: UNDISCLOSED
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: 8%
STAFF: 305

JAMES Frizelle’s Automotive Group is one of the state’s largest motor dealers with more than 300 staff across its Southport, Tweed, Nerang and Lismore locations.

The foundation dealership at Southport has been further bolstered by a recent purchase of a $2.7 million showroom; pushing Frizelle’s total Southport land holdings out to $25 million.

The Southport showrooms are home to the majority of the group’s slick imports including Audi and Chrysler while the foundation of the group’s new car range is rounded out with faithful sellers Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen.

The group is remaining tight-lipped on its 2009 FY turnover but Gold Coast Business News reported last year that Frizelle’s ’08 revenue was $292 million dollars.

GOLD COAST AIRPORT
COO: PAUL DONOVAN
ESTABLISHED: 1998 (FOLLOWING PRIVATISATION)
TOTAL PASSENGERS ’09: 4.9 MILLION
STAFF: 70 (CORPORATE)

GOLD Coast Airport is Australia’s sixth largest airport and now handles around 5 million passengers annually, contributing more than $1 billion to the region’s economy.

The airport recently opened its $100 million terminal redevelopment as part of a $175 million investment over the last three years on major infrastructure projects.

Gold Coast Airport Pty Ltd employs 70 staff with1200 employed in various businesses across all airport operations.

Southern Cross University, which opened this month, will also have an additional 40 staff plus several hundred students on the campus located on airport. On airport employment has grown by 42 per cent since June 2005.

In the 2009 calendar year 4.9 million passengers passed through the airport (an increase of 8.5 per cent over 2008).

Gold Coast Airport is now the fifth busiest international airport in Australia (and sixth busiest airport overall).

The three airports owned and operated by Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) at Gold Coast, Townsville and Mount Isa recorded just over 594,000 passenger movements collectively for the month of January, an increase of 2.9 per cent compared to January 2009.

Gold Coast Airport achieved a new all time monthly record of 464,056 passenger movements for January.

“Growth of 23 per cent in international traffic propelled Gold Coast Airport to a new all time monthly record despite the continued challenges faced by the travel industry,” says QAL managing director Dennis Chant.

Having added major carriers such as Jetstar International in the midst of construction, the airport is now wooing business from all corners of the globe.

International business development manager Michael Curtis, says in the short to medium term, the airport is looking at China, Singapore and Hong Kong, while India and the Middle East will be targets in the longer term.

“We’ve already got conversations underway with some Chinese airlines, but ultimately we really want to work with our existing international carriers AirAsia X and Jetstar to substantially grow the markets they operate in,” says Curtis.

“The future is looking very bright - not only do we have a great destination to offer in the Gold Coast but we now have a first-class facility in the redeveloped terminal.”

TRANSIT AUSTRALIA GROUP
MANAGING DIRECTORS: WAYNE PATCH AND LUKE GRAY
STAFF: 1300
VEHICLES: 600
ESTABLISHED: 2008

TRANSIT Australia Group (TAG) is the result of the consolidation of Queensland’s two largest privately owned public transport companies.

The new entity was formed when it was agreed that Surfside Buslines founders Joe and Tony Calebro would buy the majority of Transit Australia shares and merge the two company’s into a single public transport powerhouse.

Transit Australia major shareholder Wayne Patch was involved in initiating the merger and stayed on as joint managing director of the group.

The Robina-based entity now consists of the Gold Coast’s largest TransLink service provider Surfside Buslines, Sunbus on the Sunshine Coast and North Queensland, Gold Coast Shuttle and bus manufacturer Bustech.

The company also initially acquired the Sunbus Toowoomba operations but sold them in April 2009 to the Pulitano Group.

West-Burleigh-based manufacturer Bustech is behind the rollout of 54 new buses totalling $15 million to TAG’s Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton operations – the last of which are expected to arrive in June this year.

TAG is expected to continue its rapid growth through exploring further acquisition opportunities along the Queensland and NSW east coast.

GOLD COAST CABS
ESTABLISHED: 1960
CEO: MARTIN O’RIORDAN
REVENUE ’09: $6.3M
FORECASTED GROWTH ’10: STATIC
STAFF: 70 (CORPORATE) + 1600 DRIVERS

WITH the last of eight new Gold Coast taxi licenses being released this month, Regent Taxis Limited has grown its fleet to 352 vehicles and is the third largest taxi company in Queensland.

Trading as Gold Coast Cabs, the company is researching new ways to upgrade its communication technology infrastructure to better service its customers.

While company CEO Martin O’Riordan is not expecting any miracles in the economy affected taxi industry, he says Gold Coast Cabs still has the vision ‘to be regarded as the best taxi service in Australia’ in its sights.

“That’s still a journey we’re working towards and our next challenge to get to that point is in the development of our technology infrastructure,” says O’Riordan.

“Things that we are putting in place include the ability to advise customers when a cab is on the way and those methods include text messages and phone messages.

“These capabilities will be a big thing especially for the customers that live in high rise buildings.

“We’re always optimistic that it will get better but at the moment the market has contracted considerably.”

SHRED X
CEO: NICK KAROS
REVENUE ’09: APPROX $18M
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: 20%
STAFF: 100+
ESTABLISHED: 1998

SHRED-X began as a small private player in a document disposal market dominated by large publicly-listed companies.

With 33 trucks in South East Queensland alone, the Yatala-based company is now the largest of its kind in Australia and will continue its rapid growth amid an acquisition deal with New Zealand public corporation Freightways Ltd (FRE).

The acquisition is part of Freightways expansion into the Australian market and will become final in 2011 with an expected total value of approximately $17 million.

Shred-X founder and CEO Nick Karos was approached by the New Zealand package services giant last year and will stay on as head of the Australian operations.

“I’ll continue to develop the dream that I set out to, which is to become the largest and most respected company in this industry and it will become easier to do so with Freightways behind us,” says Karos.

A major factor in Shred-X’s evolution has been in the acquisition of smaller competitors who have fallen flat in their attempts to undercut the larger corporation.

Karos says paper recycling is a large contributor to profits in the document disposal market and many smaller players don’t take into consideration the influence on fluctuating commodity prices.
“We’ve really grown just by simply out servicing our competitors,” says Karos.

“You make a lot of profit out of recycling paper after shredding and many companies come in and try to undercut us. Once the price of paper goes down however you have to rely on the services you provide for profit.

“I’ve acquired three or four organisations that have done just that (lost profit due to paper prices) and come back to me with some knowledge of the industry but not the business mindset needed.”

Unlike the smaller players, Shred-X also has the resources to send shredded paper to overseas recycling markets such as India or China.

More important though, according to Karos, is the integrity of the organisation.

“We’ve had some horror stories where I’ve wondered how a company can offer the service for that cheap and then once we’ve acquired them I’ve found out they aren’t even shredding the documents, just bundling them up and sending them to the recyclers,” he says.

“I make sure our clients are aware of the possible consequences of not using the safest methods of document destruction, as at the end of the day it’s my name I’ve got to keep out of the mud.”

EXECUGIFTS
CEO: ALLAN DAWSON
REVENUE ’09: NOT DISCLOSED
STAFF: 20
ESTABLISHED: 1998

WITH 20 full-time staff servicing around 1000 clients each year, Helensvale-based Execugifts is one of the biggest corporate gifts and conference merchandise supplier in the country.

Established in 1998, the company formed a partnership in 2008 with UK company Nexus Collections for exclusive distribution of its environmentally-friendly conference bags. The companies have a joint-venture factory in China to service Execugifts exporting operations across Australia and New Zealand.

In keeping with the company’s ‘environmentally responsible’ slogan, Execugifts recently established its Envirogifts division which sources and supplies the most effective and sustainable promotional products as well as taking care of the Nexus Collections products.

The company is also a strong advocate of fair trade conditions in Asian manufacturing plants and strongly promotes ‘corporate social responsibility’.

GOLD COAST BULLETIN
MANAGING DIRECTOR: STEVE HOWARD
CIRCULATION: 60,000
STAFF: 350

THERE might be a lot more space in the staff carpark these days at the Gold Coast’s No.1 newspaper, but with a multi million dollar re-branding campaign about to be unveiled, ‘the Bully’ is on the cusp of a readership revival.

The GFC heavily impacted advertising in all forms of mass media and The Bulletin was forced to cut staff numbers, losing around 120 by either redundancies or natural attrition.

Managing director Steve Howard, says the organisation has been streamlined.

“An advertising downturn has regrettably forced us to offer redundancies in some of our departments, but we are a much more efficient organisation now,” says Howard.

“The amazing economic peak of 2007-08, inevitably, could not be sustained and we have adjusted to the prevailing environment to ensure the proud 125-year history of The Bulletin continues to be written.”

Last year the paper’s long-running editor Bob Gordon retired, opening the gates for fresh leadership. It came under the appointment of former features editor Dean Gould.

“The transition from Bob’s accomplished reign has been seamless,” says Howard.

“Dean Gould was Bob’s protégé and puts his own stamp on the editorial floor and the publication. And he takes the entire editorial staff with him.”

Newspaper circulations worldwide are constantly challenged in the new media landscape – a space where The Bulletin will feel the pressure to adapt.

“A disappointing audit result is stimulus to try harder to satisfy the needs of our readers. The Bulletin wants to always occupy a space in every Gold Coaster’s daily life,” says Howard.

NOTABLE MENTION: MACQUARIE MEDIA GROUP

MACQUARIE owns 14 regional free-to-air television licences. Its businesses on the Gold Coast includes Southern Cross Ten, Southern Cross Television and 38 radio licence areas including Sea FM and Gold FM.

MINTER ELLISON
MANAGING PARTNER: JOHN WITHERIFF
ESTABLISHED: 1984
REVENUE ’09: $12.1M
FORECASTED GROWTH ’10: -5%
STAFF: 73

DESPITE the expected boom in front-end legal work as the economy recovers, litigation and dispute resolution still remains the strongest sector at the region’s leading law firm.

Minter Ellison Gold Coast managing partner John Witheriff, says the firm recorded an excellent result in the ’09 financial year, but took a hit in revenue in the second half of the calendar year.

Witheriff concedes the 2010 financial year may see a loss for Minter Ellison, however with more commercial and corporate advisory work emerging in the market he is certain the dip is only momentary.

“We’re optimistic about the outlook; the only question is how we’re going to come out of this half year,” says Witheriff.

“Early indicators are mixed. There is still more growth in dispute resolution in the tail end of projects, where the projects have been completed and now people are trying to get paid.

“We will see more corporate advisory and commercial work towards the latter part of the year but we still have a large weight towards litigation at the moment.”

While many members of the legal community are nervously predicting the implications that come with the arrival of Allen and Overy and Norton Rose to Australia, Witheriff is adamant the emergence of the UK top tier firms will have little effect on the local legal sector.

“It’s not going to have any significant impact on the industry and I can’t see a move here being in Allen and Overy’s plans,” says Witheriff.

“Their target will be specific in transactional work mostly found in Sydney. I don’t see it as a major factor on the Gold Coast.”

Locally Witheriff is expecting growth to resume as funds start becoming more readily available and the property development sector picks up. Already he is seeing early signs movement in the property sector and promising signs in other industries.

“There is considerable growth happening in service areas such as employment groups, retail leasing, gaming and liquor which shows to me that there is a growing level of confidence in the community,”
says Witheriff.

HYNES LAWYERS
MANAGING PARTNER: ROBERT HYNES
REVENUE ’09: APPROX $8M
FORECAST GROWTH ’10: 43%
STAFF: 75 (40 LAWYERS)
ESTABLISHED: 1997

HYNES Lawyers now has offices in Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast and are embarking on a strong recruitment drive to extend its areas of expertise.

Managing partner Robert Hynes says eight new lawyers are being sought to join the 12 appointed over the last year.

Robert Hynes says the expansion of the firm’s specialty areas is a response to ‘worrying’ signs in the legal market, such as more competition and less consumer spending.

“The really major firms and the more boutique specialist firms will continue to do well while the firms that are going to struggle the most will be those in the middle,” he says.

“We are now quite specialised. There are a number of industries that we previously haven’t touched but we are now rounding out the legal sectors in terms of our expertise.”

HICKEY LAWYERS
MANAGING PARTNER: TONY HICKEY
STAFF: 18
ESTABLISHED: 1993

HICKEY Lawyers declined to confirm current staff numbers but according to the Queensland Law Society website it has significantly streamlined its operations over the last year.

Reporting 60 total staff in early 2009, the Bundall firm no doubt felt the repercussions of the downturn in property development with many key clients including Raptis Group coming from the troubled sector.

With clients including Gordon Properties, Ray Group and Sunland Group the future growth of Hickey Lawyers is likely to be concurrent with the eventual pickup in property.

THE SOUTHPORT SCHOOL
HEADMASTER: GREG WAIN
REVENUE ’09: $26M
FORECASTED GROWTH: 6%
STAFF: 200
STUDENT NUMBERS: 1360
ESTABLISHED: 1901

FOUNDED in 1901, TSS has long been considered the most prestigious boys education facility on the Gold Coast.

With 200 staff and around $26 million in revenue, headmaster Greg Wain says the school is also a ‘big business’ and as such has responded to the changing demands in the education sector.

Wain has used the tagline he created in his initial year as headmaster; ‘learning to lead’, as the driving force behind the school’s boost in its academic results and innovative leadership development program.

“When I took over as headmaster in 2004 we initiated an extensive strategic planning exercise that continued for around 18 months,” says Wain.

“I looked for something the school was pretty good at, but that could become world-class and leadership development was something that hit me.

“When I put out that concept it was something that really resonated with the parents and staff as something that we could take to a world-class level and we are one of the first schools to have an academic subject in leadership development.”

Further redevelopments to the school’s academic curriculum include the introduction of ‘thinking skills’ programs which have a heavy emphasis on problem solving, positivity and emotional intelligence.

At the teaching level TSS is the first Gold Coast school to introduce a performance-pay model.

Wain says the model is an ‘exciting concept’ for teachers and operates on a system where teachers characterise the ‘ideal’ teacher and strive to meet those qualities.

“Our teachers basically work their way from the left hand side of the scale to the right hand side and are rewarded with salary increments as they progress,” he says.

“The assessment process involves getting feedback from parents and students which can be confronting for teachers for ultimately leads to better professional progression. A number of other schools have talked with us about the model and we are definitely happy to share it.”

Wain attributes much of the success of the school’s refinement of its operations and curriculum while continuing its rich traditions to ‘client surveys’ he produces every two years.

“If we’ve done anything significantly differently, we’ve listened to the clients over the last five years,” he says.

“For instance, our academic ethos was a major problem in ’04 from the parents’ perspective and this has been reduced and increased in the other direction to now be one of the school’s strongest points.

“We needed to rejuvenate the school’s academic ethos substantially and our success in doing so is highlighted with the excellent OP results our boys are achieving and the increased enrolments.”

BOND UNIVERSITY
CHANCELLOR: HELEN NUGENT
REVENUE ’09: NOT DISCLOSED
STAFF: APPROX 1000
ESTABLISHED: 1989

THE Bond University brand remains synonymous with the most prestigious Queensland education facilities.

The non-for-profit, privately-owned institution continues to receive industry accolades in various categories and leads the way for innovation and industry influence.

The university’s expansion drive is setting the standard in its quick response to changing skill demands including the launch of the Mirvac School of Sustainable Development in October 2009 which took out the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Sustainability Award.

Only last month Bond University announced the introduction of a new school established to meet the growing demand for sustainability built environments; the Soheil Abedian School of Architecture.

Vice-Chancellor Robert Stable, says the school is a result of a ‘significant’ gift from the Sunland founder and alumnus parent, and has enabled the university to offer a unique program for the increasing critical sustainable architecture sector.

“It is through our relationship with our alumni and the generous financial support from our benefactors that Bond University continues to grow as a leader in education, offering students state-of-the-art facilities and global learning experiences,” says Stable.

Stable told Gold Coast Business News that the quality of Bond’s evolving university degrees and the value of tertiary education will see student numbers in both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees continue to grow.

“Kids leaving school in modern times now have some high paying options to compete with university, such as working in the mining industry in central Queensland,” he says.

“While this may guarantee more short-term financial success, the evidence is that those with a university education are more successful over the course of their entire career.

“On the success of the university and the newly revised degree, our MBA for example has increased its numbers substantially.”


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