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Briefcase: Business snippets from around South Australia

Business

In this week’s briefcase of SA business snippets, we unpack the latest on a controversial CBD development, Olympic Dam profits, a technology company making headway in the smartwatch industry and more.

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West Franklin tower project stalls

The controversial 16-storey West Franklin development proposal has been put on ice with property developer Greaton telling InDaily the company was “still consulting around the design proposal” to ensure the development plan suited “everyone in the area”.

The second stage of the West Franklin development was on the agenda to be discussed by Adelaide City Council last Tuesday but was pulled at the last minute, with Greaton project commercial manager Wendy Lieng saying the developer needed more time before going to council.

She would not comment on whether the company was considering altering the proposed building height from the contentious 53-metres but said alternative options were being explored for the use of the proposed open public space beside the old Balfours site on the corner of Morphett and Franklin streets.

Located at 156-172 Franklin Street, the 199-bedroom proposed development is the second stage of the estimated $300 million West Franklin project in Adelaide’s West End. The first stage was completed in 2019.

Greaton previously proposed partial demolition of the western side of the Balfours building, including the wall, roof and “three bays of brickwork,” with a temporary wall featuring public art to enclose the western façade and create a public space.

It also proposed building a tower of 53 metres, which was at odds with the current Land Management Agreement (LMA) and sparked concern from neighbouring residents.

Opponents of the development previously told InDaily while they supported city development as a whole the new tower should remain within the LMA.

Residents of the Gallery and Altitude apartment buildings – which share the former Balfours site with the proposed development – said the LMA was put in place to give apartment owners confidence about the future of their investments and it would erode faith in the planning system if it was easily changed.

Smartwatch company edges closer to profit

Adelaide-based technology company Spacetalk has reported a $622,000 net loss for the six months ending December 31.

But the loss is a significant improvement on the $2.7 million loss the company, formerly known as MGM Wireless, reported for the same period the previous year.

The smartwatch and app maker announced to the ASX last Tuesday it achieved record revenue in the half of $8.25 million, up nine per cent.

During the period, the company launched its new Spacetalk Adventurer kids watch, gained bricks and mortar distribution for its seniors watch Spacetalk Life and released a new Spacetalk App.

The smartwatches are now sold in 1120 stores in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The company has reported a strong start to the second half of the financial year with unit sales up 44 per cent in the first five weeks on the whole March quarter last year.

Spacetalk CEO Mark Fortunatow said he expected the momentum for the company’s new app to further build in 2021 as devices sold through the Christmas sales period lead to increased app user adoption.

“It is an extremely exciting period in the history of our company, where we expect to see in 2021 the benefit of the strategic investments we have made during 2020,” he said.

Olympic Dam reverses fortunes as BHP pays record dividend

Mining giant BHP has reported the strongest performance in five years from its Olympic Dam mine in the far north of South Australia.

In figures for the half-year to December 31 reported to the Australian Securities Exchange last week,  BHP’s copper/gold/uranium mine at Olympic Dam returned an annualised profit for the half-year of $100 million ($US78 million), a major turnaround from the $83 million ($US65 million) loss it reported for the same period a year ago.

Overall, the company reported an attributable profit of $4.98 billion ($US3.88 billion) for the half-year ended December 31, down on the $6.25 billion ($US4.87 billion) profit for the same period in 2019.

The 20 per cent decline in attributable profit reflected a more than $1.3 billion ($US1 billion) impairment charge on its NSW thermal coal assets in part reflecting softer “current market conditions for thermal coal”. This and other coal assets are up for sale.

But excluding the charge, underlying earnings rose a solid 16 per cent to $7.8 billion ($US6 billion) on the back of a stellar performance in its iron ore and copper divisions.

The BHP board announced a record half-year dividend of $1.30 ($US1.01) per share.

Barossa Valley taphouse for sale

Stein’s Taphouse and Wine Bar – a Barossa Valley craft beer and micro-distillery – is up for sale through McGees Property for $350,000.

The 341 sqm business is part of the Provenance Barossa precinct in Nuriootpa alongside the Penfolds cellar door, Barossa Distilling Company, First Drop Wines, Ember Pizza, Bean Addiction and Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst.

Co-owners Jan Faletic and Michael Rosenstein turned the place into a craft beer and boutique wine venue in 2016.

Property manager Grant Clarke, from McGees Property, said the owners were stepping away from the American-style taphouse to retire.

Business program drives jobs, profits

A business program aimed at growing SA companies helped created almost 1400 jobs and generated more than $50 million in company profits over the past five years according to the University of South Australia.

The university’s Australian Centre for Business Growth was given a $4.2 million state government in 2016 to sponsor South Australian SMEs to attend growth programs designed and delivered by the centre.

Over the five years, 387 companies attended “assessment clinics” and 90 continued to growth modules, which help company CEOs and executives to plan for rapid growth.

Companies came from all over South Australia for the attend the programs, which UniSA says created 1,398 new jobs, $33 million and generated $51 million in company profits over the five years.

Australian Centre for Business Growth Professor director Jana Matthews said the grant enabled the delivery of Growth Workshops, Assessment Clinics and Growth Modules to companies in 17 industries across the state.

“Their performance demonstrates that, once CEOs and their executive team members are given the knowledge, tools and skills, and learn how to drive growth, they become confident in their ability to grow their business,” she said.

The data was collected from 148 SA SMEs, as part of the AUCBG’s yearly longitudinal studies of company growth.

Convention Centre to host alternative investment seminar

Adelaide-based small business support group Business House Australia will host an alternative investment seminar this month to provide ideas on how to make money in times of record low interest rates and all-time stock market highs.

The “Awesome Investments for Troubled Times” seminar will be held at Adelaide Convention Centre on February 27 and will feature expert analysis of opportunities that investors may not have heard of or seriously considered.

Business House Australia managing director Keith Gustavsson said data sources such as the CitiGroup Panic and Euphoria Index had highlighted a “huge red flag for investors” ahead of what’s predicted to be a bumpy 12 months or more.

“There’s a strong link between poor bank returns and the continued euphoria in markets which appears completely divorced from economic reality – investors are chasing high-risk options to average out a better result,” he said.

“The seminar is completely focused on information and education about alternative investments options that provide a unique combination of security and above-average returns – it’s not a sales vehicle, but we want people to understand the troubled times we are living through will have consequences.”

Eight investment experts will discuss local and overseas residential property, residential development projects, pooled investment funds, precious metals, pink diamonds, exchange-traded funds and international hedge funds. In addition, a finance broker and tax accountant will provide updates and guidance on current borrowing and tax implications.

“With the recent crash in Reserve Bank cash rates from 0.25 per cent to 0.10 per cent, our seminar offers a unique chance to update your thinking on the investment landscape,” Gustavsson said.

“It’s ideal for SMSF trustees, investment fund managers, or anyone seeking an improved return on their savings.”

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