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Briefcase: Business snippets from around SA

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In this week’s briefcase, office vacancies in Adelaide tighten, local AI software company Complexica signs Arnott’s and property developer Axiom inks a deal with a WA car park designer.

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Adelaide office vacancies tighten

The number of empty offices in Adelaide has marginally decreased over the last six months but remains higher than the national average, according to the latest Property Council Office Market Report.

The study, which measures the percentage of unleased office space in Australia’s six most populous capital cities, shows Adelaide’s office vacancy rate has decreased from 16 per cent in January to 15.7 per cent in July.

Over the six-month period between the two reports, 3026 square metres of office space was leased in Adelaide while 1120 square metres was withdrawn.

The Property Council says no office space is due to come into the Adelaide market for the rest of the year, but 73,636 square metres is slated to come online in 2022.

South Australian Property Council Executive Director Daniel Gannon said the Adelaide office market has “bucked expectations” during COVID-19.

“This demonstrates the resilience of Adelaide’s office market and is a testament to South Australia’s handling of the pandemic,” he said.

“There was more vacant space in July 2017 and a higher vacancy rate than there is in the Adelaide CBD four years later – an extraordinary situation given the global pandemic.”

Adelaide’s office vacancy rate is still 3.8 points higher than the national average, which increased from 11.6 to 11.9 per cent this July – primarily due to significant vacancy increases in locked-down Sydney and Melbourne.

Perth is the only city in the report with a higher office vacancy rate (16.8 per cent) than Adelaide, although the western capital recorded a 3.1 per cent drop in unleased space – the biggest decrease measured in the report.

Canberra boasts the tightest office market in the Property Council’s study with a vacancy rate of just 7.7 per cent, while Melbourne’s empty office space reached a 20 year high at 10.4 per cent.

The Victorian capital was the only CBD in Australia to record negative demand for tenancy in the last six months, according to the Property Council.

Arnott’s signs deal with West Lakes AI software company

South Australian Artificial Intelligence software company Complexica has signed a deal with biscuit giant Arnott’s to use its Decision Cloud platform for trade promotion management.

The new contract, to be implemented in 2022, will extend Arnott’s deployment of Complexica’s Promotional Campaign Manager (PCM) for Trade Promotion Optimisation and AI-based demand forecasting, both of which kicked-off earlier this year.

Complexica’s Decision Cloud software platform will allow different business units – such as Revenue Management, Account Management, Field Sales, Commercial Finance, and Accounts Payable – to carry out their own, individual workflows within a single, integrated environment.

Arnott’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Ridler said the company is looking to unify and streamline its promotional slotting, joint business planning, in-market execution and payments against different compensation models, which it will be able to achieve with the Complexica system.

“We’ve been very happy with the partnership we’ve developed and the results we’ve achieved with Complexica since January and look forward to the multiple go-lives scheduled for the coming months,” he said.

West Lakes-based Comlexica recently announced a $5 million investment from MAM in equity growth capital and also signed a deal with SA’s largest port operator Flinders Ports..

Axiom joins forces with car park developer

Publicly listed property developer Axiom has signed an agreement with West Australian car park developer Parkd to seek opportunities to work on joint projects nationally.

The directors of Adelaide-based Axiom say commuter numbers returning to higher levels as cities emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to develop permanent and temporary car park solutions.

Parkd has created a modular multi-storey car park structure system with only three primary elements that are fabricated off site.

It says the PARKD Car Park System offers faster build times and reduced costs compared to traditional concrete car parks.

Parkd is set to commence preparing a full-funded offer to the University of South Australia for a multi-level car park in the Adelaide CBD.

Axiom managing director Ben Laurance said Parkd’s IP and technical capability would provide a strategic advantage in securing projects in key target sectors.

Parkd chairman Bronte Howson said providing fully funded projects via Axiom would be a gamechanger and would provide the momentum need to realise opportunities.

Export opportunities in the Middle East

The South Australian chapter of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the Middle East and North Africa has the potential to replace many of the export losses impacted by Chinese tariffs on Australian goods.

The chamber is urging SA businesses to consider focussing on the Middle East and North Africa as a potentially lucrative – and as yet, largely untapped – export target.

According to AACCI’s South Australian Chairman, Soufiane Rboub, when China imposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley 12 months ago, it was the Middle East that stepped in to become Australia’s biggest export market, with Saudi Arabia taking 1.5 million tonnes of the grain, with just 33,000 tonnes being exported to China over the same period.

He says that is just one example of the potentially enormous export appetite of the Middle East and North African market.

“As the trade relationship between Australia and China continues to fluctuate, along with the potential long-term impacts on Australian exports, the time is now right for the Australian Government, growers and manufacturers to look to develop trade alliances with some of our non-traditional markets, such as the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

“The growth in these markets for South Australian businesses provides an opportunity for SA to diversify away from our heavily focussed reliance on Asian markets, particularly, in the education, agribusiness sectors and service industries.”

The potential growth of the Middle East and North African export markets will be part of the discussion at a luncheon being co-hosted by the AACCI and AmCham (SA) on Thursday, August 12 at the Adelaide Oval titled ‘Diversifying our Export Markets and Products’.

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