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CFMEU and ACA urge reforms to spark housing construction boom

The CFMEU and the Australian Constructors Association are calling for targeted reforms to drive construction in ‘Build-To-Rent’ and social housing to stimulate the economy and boost jobs ahead of the Federal Budget.

The peak construction industry groups are also warning that moves to allow people to further drawdown on their superannuation savings could weaken investment in the nation’s construction industry as it recovers from the economic shock of the pandemic.

Reforms to enable ‘Build-To-Rent’ construction projects could boost the economy by $10 billion, create up to 23,000 jobs, and build 20,000 homes over the next four years. This would help offset a continued downturn the industry is expecting in the construction of apartments and student accommodation, according to the industry groups.

‘Build-To-Rent’ is a big part of the rental market and commercial construction sector in North America, Europe and Asia which helps sustain development of large-scale affordable housing. However, in Australia, a raft of state and federal tax rules act as a barrier to investment. In particular, the application of GST is uneven between apartments sold to individuals and apartments built to rent by the developer.

Reforming the GST rules for ‘Build-To-Rent’ construction projects and coordinating with the National Cabinet to reform State and Territory rules would enable investment in a range of shovel-ready projects across the country, the industry groups recently reported. Along with increased social housing, these measures would provide homes for people who need them and create tens of thousands of jobs.

The Federal Government can also enact reforms that give the green light to Australia’s $2 trillion superannuation sector to more easily invest in nation-building stimulus projects such as the construction of Build-To-Rent homes and social housing, the industry groups suggested.

“The Federal Government must also be wary of the unintended consequences of encouraging further drawdowns on people’s retirement savings, which could affect the capacity of super funds to invest in non-liquid assets like the large-scale construction projects the economy will need in coming years. In particular, the use of superannuation for housing deposits is poor public policy and goes against the concept of super as a long-term investment for people’s retirement security,” CFMEU and the Australian Constructors Association recently reported.

The construction industry has worked hard to maintain its role as a principle driver of the Australian economy through the pandemic crisis, according to the industry groups.

“Builders and unions have worked together in the national interest to keep the industry going, to keep people in jobs, and to ensure that construction maintains its role at the heart of our economy.  The government can assist by enacting these reforms that will free up investment to boost the industry and help build the homes that the Australian people need,” the industry groups reported.

Easycraft announces new distributor

Easycraft recently announced that ITI (Innovative Timber Ideas) has been appointed as its new distributor of Easycraft products for Australia and New Zealand. 

Easycraft has led the way with premium quality solutions that shaped the progress of Australian building design for over 35 years, according to the company, with its wall and ceiling linings well renowned for being decorative, stylish and functional.

To support its continued growth, Easycraft has partnered with ITI Australia, the largest independent wholesale timber supplier in Australia. This partnership means that Easycraft’s national sales and distribution network is expanding to ensure Easycraft products are available for renovation, residential new build and commercial projects throughout Australia and New Zealand.  

This new partnership will commence immediately as Easycraft’s core range is progressively rolled out nationally on a state-by-state basis over the coming months. 

ITI’s reputation for quality and unparalleled customer service was a deciding factor when the decision was made to partner as a distributor, according to Easycraft. Since its establishment in 1987 in Five Dock, NSW, Independent Timber Importers (ITI) has cemented its status as an industry leader in the production and distribution of environmentally-sustainable timber solutions.

“The addition of Easycraft to the product range is further confirmation that ITI is constantly working behind the scenes to bring exciting products to its customers. The ever-increasing range at ITI provides customers with the ability to purchase all their timber needs from one supplier, reducing both the time and costs associated with sourcing products, which is even more critical in our current environment,” ITI recently reported.

With an office in Indonesia and manufacturing in Chile, the ITI timber group now has close to 500 staff worldwide and continues to work with its independent customers to bring to them the highest quality products from around the globe. 

For more information on the Easycraft Range visit: easycraft.com.au

Anchor and power tool leaders unite under one brand

Iconic global brands, DeWalt and POWERS have united under one brand – DeWalt Engineered by Powers – to deliver a complete anchoring and installation system for the construction industry, which focuses on performance and productivity.

With construction work in Australia forecast to be $240 billion in 2021, DeWalt Engineered by Powers will meet the ever-growing demands of the construction industry to provide complete solutions that improve efficiencies, are code compliant and provide safer practice solutions with a focus on performance.

Both DeWalt and Powers’ products have been used in the design and construction of many of the world’s most iconic structures. DeWalt now brings anchors, power tools and accessories to the forefront of structural engineers, specifiers, builders, contractors and on-site trades, with an understanding of tools and fastening systems that provide cost effective and exceptional results for construction projects.

“DeWalt is the trusted brand of choice for professional tradespeople and Powers is a leader in the concrete and masonry fastening industry, so it makes a lot of sense to combine the expertise of these organisations to drive future innovation,” Stanley Black&Decker Managing Director, Adrian Davis said.

“The merger of the two brands positions us at the forefront of the construction and engineering industries in Australia and New Zealand. It also means that we can continue to support our products with expert solution and technical advice for all anchoring requirements, through our dedicated Enterprise Solutions Team. The team has been selected for their proven ability to respond to the demands of ever-changing industry requirements. The team is committed to adding value to our customers and projects, throughout the construction process,” he adds.

From an industry body perspective, the AEFAC (Australian Engineered Fasteners and Anchor Council), is pleased that DeWalt Engineered by Powers – which is one of the founding members of AEFAC – will continue to enhance safety and efficiency associated with the use of structural anchors and fasteners through its products, and further elevate the technical knowledge and data for design engineers and specifiers, AEFAC Chairman, Professor Emad Gad said recently.

“Implementing international best practice and offering products and systems with ETAs provide confidence to all stakeholders by meeting deemed to satisfy provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC),” he said.

The Blue-Tip 2 Screw-Bolt is the first product expected to be launched by DeWalt Engineered by Powers, with the mechanical anchoring range offering state-of-the-art, one-piece design, heavy-duty screw bolt anchors. The innovative anchors also hold a number of technical approvals which allows it to comply with various building codes and regulations. It may be used in numerous applications across a number of trades, including mechanical, electrical, HVAC, scaffolding, plumbing, interior finishing, civil construction and formwork. 

As part of our ongoing research and development, we continue to design products that meet today’s requirements, Mr Davis said.

“The Blue-Tip 2 anchor is currently being used in a variety of applications by end users where a seismic rated anchor is required from a compliance stand point. Some of these projects include multi-residential units such as Quay Towers at Darling Harbour and St Lucia’s Student Accommodation in Queensland, Government projects including the Gold Coast Airport, Star Casino, Logan Motorway M1 Upgrade as well as tunnelling projects, M5 Tunnels and Metro Tunnel in Sydney,” he said.

Along with compliance and European Technical Assessment (ETA) approved products, DeWalt Engineered by Powers is constantly pushing the boundaries to create innovative tools for the construction professional with an emphasis on cordless tools for installation of anchoring systems. The one-piece design of Blue-Tip 2 makes it is easy to install with a powered impact wrench and is the preferred choice for fast but reliable anchoring which is also fully removable, according to Mr Davis. The Blue-Tip 2 anchors are also designed with a tough cutting thread that allows for low installation torque, ease of installation and increased productivity, he said.

“With complete solutions offering compliance, performance and productivity, our cutting-edge technology and user-driven innovation, we are looking forward to continuing to leverage our global and local experience to support the construction industry,” concludes Davis.

For more information visit: www.DEWALT.com.au

Bunnings set to open in Seymour in 2021

A new, smaller Bunnings format store is expected to open its doors next year in the Victorian rural town of Seymour, with construction already underway.

The central wall of the building is already now complete, with steel framing now going up and work on the roof expected to begin in the next month, according to the Seymour Telegraph.

Scott Kenneth Brodie / Shutterstock.com

Features of the new store include a timber trade drive-through and an outdoor nursery, alongside the main retail area.

Bunnings Area Manager Mary Corso said that the new development represented a significant direct investment in the local community and would create a number of new team member positions, according to the Seymour Telegraph.

“The new Bunnings Seymour will create up to 45 jobs for local residents and we’re excited to bring a wide range of home improvement and lifestyle products to the Seymour community,” she said.

The new small, format store will sit across 4500 square metres with parking allowed for 70 cars, according to the report.

The new Bunnings Seymour store is located at 63 Anzac Ave, Seymour.

Mitre 10 NZ CEO’s shock resignation

Mitre 10 NZ Chief Executive Officer, Chris Wilesmith, has resigned and will be returning to Australia after just over a year in the role.

The shock resignation of the co-op’s Chief Executive Officer was recently announced by Mitre 10 New Zealand Chairman, Martin Dippie who said that, “Chris is resigning from his role to return home to Australia on a permanent basis.”

“While the role was always an Auckland-based one, he has been commuting between Auckland and Coffs Harbour on a regular basis due to family commitments. The recent disruption of the borders closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made this travel very challenging. Despite the need to quarantine on both sides of the Tasman, Chris has remained highly effective and committed to his leadership role,” Mr Dippie said.

Image source: www.nzherald.co.nz

While it seems a vaccine will not be available for quite some time, and Australian and New Zealand borders will remain tightly controlled for the foreseeable future, travelling between countries was no longer sustainable for Mr Wilesmith and he has made the difficult decision to resign.

“Chris’ strong leadership during the initial lockdown and in subsequent months allowed the business to operate at very high levels, despite the restrictions and challenges we have faced. The Board has been delighted with his impact on the business,” Mr Dippie said.

Mitre 10 NZ has already begun the search for a new Chief Executive Officer via executive search partner Egon Zehnder.

COVID-19 brings consumers back to their Aussie roots

While it seems COVID-19 has developed a very pro-Australian sentiment in the retail marketplace over the last few months, the pandemic has also brought enormous levels of consumer engagement with the Australian Made logo as well. This engagement is particularly evident across social media platforms with the Campaign already recording a 300 per cent increase in engagement across its social media platforms, according to Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive Officer, Ben Lazzaro.

As the largest online product directory of genuine Australian Made products, the australianmade.com.au website has also doubled in traffic during the pandemic, while the Australian Made Campaign has also received a dramatic increase in calls and emails from consumers asking where they can find certain products or how they can support Aussie manufacturers. This certainly shows a growing need in the community for Australians to support local businesses, Mr Lazzaro said.

“While support for Australian Made products remains, obviously we want consumers to follow through on their purchasing intention. This comes down to a number of factors, particularly with people in lockdown, and is also why online shopping has become very important. Not only because they can purchase Aussie products online, but they can also find all the information they need about the product beforehand,” Mr Lazzaro said.

Mr Lazzaro also believes that the renewed consumer enthusiasm for supporting locally made products is not “a flash in the pan”.

“The pandemic has been seriously impactful across a number of fronts and it is the shock of something like COVID-19 that jolts people into action and support Australian Made, which is what we believe is happening at the moment. We have to remember too that local manufacturing was also thrown in the spotlight due to COVID-19. It was our manufacturers that re-tooled overnight and pivoted their businesses so they could make the emergency medical equipment and personal protection equipment that Australians needed during this time. Australian manufacturers had an opportunity to really demonstrate that we can make just about anything here, and we need the infrastructure to do that,” Mr Lazzaro said.

Australia has long had an overreliance on imported products, and Mr Lazzaro said the pandemic was a wakeup call for many Australians to address this imbalance.

“We are always going to need a mix of local and imported products. I think the pandemic has also demonstrated that this balance was too far skewed towards a reliance on imported products. This is why we will see a different manufacturing landscape moving forward,” he said.

Recent increased activity to Australian Made directories is also being attributed to consumers wanting to identify genuine Australian Made products, including every product that is licensed to carry the Australian Made logo. 

“Our day to day activity here is ensuring that the logo is used only in accordance with the rules, which contributes to the integrity of the brand as well as the products that carry it. Promotion of the Australian Made logo is also key. This is why we always drive traffic to our website and our social media platforms to deliver extra value to those brands that use the Australian Made logo,” he said.

“At the moment we have over 250,000 consumers hitting our website per month. We have also had huge increases in engagement on our social media platforms.”

“Additionally we have a Facebook group which is designed specifically just for manufacturers so we can link manufacturers with other manufacturers who might be seeking Australian components for their products. This is a closed group with entry only for licensees of the Australian Made Campaign, where they can conduct business,” Mr Lazzaro said.

While the growing preference for Australian Made products is evident, there still is a lack of imported products in some segments, so companies are being forced to look for materials locally and dig a little harder than usual. Hopefully this is a new habit that manufacturers will adopt full time, Mr Lazzaro said.

“While there will always be a sector of the community that will buy purely on price, what we believe will happen is that we will see a larger portion of the community take a bit more consideration in their purchasing decisions and start to look at value more closely, rather than just at price. The perception that buying Australian Made is often a more expensive choice is not always the case with Australian Made products often on par with imported products. This is when consumers should look at the value of the purchase, particularly from a standard and safety point of view, which is also becoming very important.”

The Australian Made Campaign’s research has also discovered a growing trend from the younger generation who not only want to know if a product is ethically produced, but aspects of sustainability as well.

“When you look at products that are ethical and sustainable, these are all attributes you can associate with Australian Made products. Saying something is Australian Made may not necessarily land with the demographic of those aged in their 20s and 30s. However, if you tell these customers that a product is ethically and sustainably produced, their ears will prick up. So, it is also about changing the language around how we express the Australianness of a product,” Mr Lazzaro said.

“Local employment is also in just about every article you read at the moment and around 84 per cent of Aussie consumers now associate the Australian Made logo with jobs. It would be unusual if anyone in June 2020 did not have exposure to someone that had either lost a job or had their hours reduced as a result of this COVID-19 situation so I think ensuring our family and friends are employed is already becoming more relevant for people when they make those purchasing decisions,” he said.

Australian Made compliance

Applications for businesses to use the Australian Made logo has also risen by an incredible 400 per cent, according to Mr Lazzaro who said businesses now want to tell everyone their products are Australian Made.  

“The most effective way to do this is by using the Australian Made logo because they know this is the logo that 99 per cent of consumers recognise and 88 per cent trust. We are finding that businesses are certainly looking to leverage this very pro-Australian sentiment that is in the market place at the moment.”

“The majority of manufacturers understand that there are compliance requirements expected to make the Australian Made claim. Our compliance team helps them through this process to ensure products that meet the criteria are the only ones that end up carrying the Australian Made logo,” Mr Lazzaro said.

The growth in applications and consumer interest in Australian Made products is also being attributed to the current Australian Made marketing campaign, titled, ‘It has never been more important to buy Australian than right now’.

“We are a not for profit organisation but we have managed to get a campaign away worth more than $500k across TV, outdoor, radio, digital, online, social nationwide. We will use the campaign to try and hit as many Aussies as possible. Obviously, it is a campaign that a lot of people can get behind and we are seeing the evidence of this at the moment,” he said.

The Australian Made Campaign has recorded a 300 per cent increase in engagement across its social media platforms, according to Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive Officer, Ben Lazzaro.

Although the Australian Made Campaign does not have access to a lot of retail data, there has been an influx of building related products that have come on board in recent times, according to Mr Lazzaro.

“The Australian Made logo may be used across all 34 classes of goods, so this includes everything that is sold in Australia including an industrial tanker to a jar of vitamins. It is very diverse and the compliance team have to become subject matter experts very quickly. The hardware, building and renovation sectors are also very strong at the moment and we have definitely seen and uplift there,” he said.

Wesfarmers CEO criticises Vic’s lockdown

Bunnings Chief Executive Officer, Michael Schneider, along with Wesfarmer’s Chief Executive Officer, Rob Scoot, have both slammed the Victorian government’s extended COVID-19 lockdown. Mr Schneider accused Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews of a lack of consultation, that will not only lead to a huge cost economically in Victoria, but to the entire nation.

Mr Schneider recently told The Australian that all retailers were being treated as a homogenous group that had the same-sized stores, formats and operations, when in reality they were not the same at all.

Mr Schneider said that the industry consultation lauded by Premier Andrews felt “one sided” and that despite volumes of information supplied to government ministers, it seemed their views were not taken on board.

“We have provided considerable quantities of information to both Minister (Martin) Pakula and Minister (Martin) Foley demonstrating our credentials for a safe opening, and we put the safety and welfare of our team and customers at number one. The final piece for me is disappointment at the fact that despite the Australian Retailers Association and a number of other industry bodies, as well as large and small retailers saying to the government the retail sector is not a ‘one size fits all’ model, we have been treated in a ‘one size fits all’ way.”

The October retail quarter, which could now be ruined by the Victorian government’s recovery plan, was crucial for planning and ordering Christmas products, according to Mr Schneider, and now could be greatly disrupted.

In Victoria alone, the Wesfarmers owned Bunnings employs more than 12,000 people in Victoria and services 150,000 tradesmen. Wesfarmers’ businesses, also include Kmart, Target and Officeworks, which are all mostly closed in Victoria, with Bunnings open only for tradies, according to an Australian Business review report.

Mr Schneider said there was also a practical aspect to the Victorian government’s plan to slowly open up the economy, including allowing retail to open its doors — especially, for example, when storms extensively damage metropolitan Melbourne, like it did a few weeks ago.

“We understand that if the desire for the government is for people to spend more time at home, having easy access to products is useful in supporting the community. When the big wind storms hit Melbourne recently, houses lost power and buildings were damaged. Our stores were overwhelmed with customers wanting to be able to come in and get urgent supplies to get things to get their homes (fixed) which they couldn’t do because they have to buy the product online and it has to go through the online process.’’

Wesfarmers Chief Executive Officer, Rob Scott, also criticised the claim by the Victorian government that it would consult widely and intensely with the business community as it developed its pathway to drag Melbourne out of onerous stage four restrictions that have seen all non-essential retailers forced to shut.

“I worry that this latest ­announcement creates more ­uncertainty and hardship, and will inflict a greater personal and economic cost, not just to the people of Melbourne but the whole of Australia,’’ Mr Scott said.

“In Victoria alone, Wesfarmers businesses employ around 30,000 team members and we have not had any meaningful engagement with the government around retail operations and nor any feedback as to whether our retail network presents any risks to the community. To develop a better plan would require the Victorian government to engage in genuine consultation, to listen and learn about industries that are outside their expertise, including how businesses have evolved to be COVID-safe.”

“We will do a better job solving this Victorian problem if we work on it together across business and government — as is happening in NSW, Western Australia and elsewhere,” he said.

Mr Scott said the extended lockdown in Victoria would have an “enormous, incalculable and growing toll personally for many people, financially and on their emotional wellbeing, and also for the economy”.

He said the health challenge was clear and must be taken seriously, as it was in other states, and while Wesfarmers would survive, he feared other businesses would not.

Image: Daria Nipot / Shutterstock.com

“The diversity and financial strength of Wesfarmers will enable us to get through the Victorian lockdown but many other businesses may not. Hopefully our advocacy will also help other businesses reopen in a COVID-safe way. Our primary focus will be on our teams and customers and how our divisions can support them, as best they can, through this personal and economic catastrophe. We know that our team members do not deserve this.”

Mr Scott said the government’s plans would increase uncertainty for Wesfarmers’ customers and suppliers.

“The government has introduced new thresholds (with a daily average of less than five new cases state-wide over 14 days) as a precondition to reopening. It will be impractical for many retailers to plan for and trade through such uncertainty at what is normally the busiest time of the retail year,” Mr Scott said.

Workers ‘fly the flag’ to address suicide in construction

Thousands of construction workers across Australia are flying flags on major projects today to highlight the suicide crisis facing the industry and promote efforts to save lives by looking out for workmates.

Each year, 190 Australian construction workers take their lives — six times the number killed by workplace accidents — with the industry’s blokey culture and transient nature often making it difficult to ask for help.

Fly the Flag Day, run as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, is organised by the MATES in Construction program in partnership with building companies, unions, employer groups, and mental health organisations.

The MATES in Construction program builds on-site networks of support, with more than 20,000 volunteers already undergoing training to help them identify people at risk of suicide, offer them appropriate support, and connect them with specialist assistance.

MATES in Construction NSW Chief Executive Officer, Brad Parker said the program was an industry-driven response to the suicide crisis in the sector, which sees one worker take their life every two days.

“Young construction workers are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than other young men. Job insecurity, high work demands, financial stress, relationship breakdowns, and mental health challenges all put workers at risk, while the transient nature of our industry can make it hard to build strong support networks,” Mr Parker said.

“The traditional blokey culture, where people do not discuss emotions and feelings with workmates, can also pose a challenge to people getting the help they need. Fly the Flag Day is about shining a spotlight on the problem, breaking down the stigma of asking for help, and highlighting the efforts of thousands of volunteers on projects across the country to save lives.”

“The MATES in Construction program has already built a network of more than 20,000 volunteers who have undergone industry-specific training that helps them identify workmates who might be at risk and know how to offer them the support they need. COVID-19 has made these efforts more important than ever this year, with many workers facing greater social isolation, uncertainty, and financial hardship as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

 MATES in Construction is an industry-led approach helping workers on the ground support their mates to get the help they need. Construction, energy and mining workers can call the MATES 24/7 helpline anytime on: 1300 642 11

Porters opens third trade centre in growth corridor

The Porters Group has continued to grow and evolve with the opening of its new Porters Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Rural View in the heart of the Northern Beaches, Mackay, Queensland on August 31.

Porters Mitre 10 Northern Beaches Trade Centre is a standalone, trade focused store that was built specifically to fill a gap in the group’s network, in a growth corridor, and is expected to provide a convenient offer to local builders, tradesmen, handymen and serious DIY customers.

The Northern Beaches store is the third trade centre developed within the Porters Group, with another popular trade centre located in Mackay directly across the road from the Porters Mackay City store, as well as the Whitsunday Trade Centre in Cannonvale.

The new trade store was formally known as Porters Northern Beaches but closed in 2015 after the business was no longer sustainable due to a drop in building approvals in the local area, after the mining boom.

This has now all changed with several new housing developments located just a five-minute drive from the new store. This is when the Porters team redesigned the store as a prestigious Mitre 10 Sapphire Trade standalone store to service local builders. The store was also re-built so local tradies were no longer required to drive 25 minutes to the Porters Mitre 10 Trade Centre in Mackay, while also providing a convenient drive through service for local tradies to pick up and go.

Porters Group Chief Executive Officer, Travis Cunnane, said the team was very excited to open the new Porters Mitre 10 Northern Beaches Trade Centre at Rural View.

“We know this new addition to our group will assist us to further support our customers. We

The Porters Group recently opened its new Porters Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Rural View in the heart of the Northern Beaches, Mackay, Queensland on August 31.

look forward to connecting with our customers to expand and grow our Northern Beaches Trade Centre offering. Being able to service our customers’ needs is our number one priority. This new store will assist us in doing so, we are excited to see what the future holds,” Mr Cunnane said.

Local response so far has been outstanding, with local builders already showing their support for the new store as many prefer to conduct business with a local retailer, particularly one that now provides a whole of house offering in a convenient easy location.

Boasting an extensive range of both trade and retail product lines, Porters Mitre 10 Northern Beaches Trade Centre is expected to service many building projects conducted in the area for many years to come.

Wesfarmers profit falls, despite Bunnings boom

It is clear that Bunnings remains Wesfarmer’s stand out performer, after the Big Box reported a total store sales growth of 14.7 per cent, with store-on-store sales increasing by the same percentage, according to Wesfarmer’s end of financial year results released today. Bunnings also delivered a strong second half with a store-on-store sales growth of 25.8 per cent, as customers spent more time working and undertaking projects at home, according to the results. 

Wesfarmers also acquired Catch and benefitted from the massive shift to online shopping by consumers throughout the pandemic, while its Officeworks business benefitted as consumers set up home offices during lockdown.

Despite the increase in sales on-line and in-store, Bunnings Managing Director, Mike Schneider, said there was no doubt the second half of the year has been challenging.

“COVID-19 has also presented our team with some significant challenges and I would like to thank all of them for their incredible hard work and their commitment to keeping themselves, each other and our customers safe,” he said. 

The results also showed Target continuing to drag after Wesfarmers posted a 69.2 per cent fall in full-year profit to $1.697 billion, according to The Australian.

The Wesfarmers result was also hit by more than $800 million in impairments and restructuring charges flowing from weaker divisions, according to The Australian, with post-tax significant items from continuing operations of $461 million recorded for the year comprising of $83 million in post-tax restructuring costs and provisions in Kmart Group, post-tax non-cash impairments of $437 million in Target and $298 million in Industrial and Safety.

When commenting on today’s results, Wesfarmers Chief Executive Rob Scott remained focussed on the Bunnings and Officeworks businesses, which he said rapidly adapted to the changing needs of their customers.

“The result in chemicals, energy and fertilisers also reflected a continued solid performance, while the performance of Industrial and Safety was below expectations and included a $310 million pre-tax impairment as a result of the deterioration in the outlook for customer demand in some segments and uncertainty around future economic conditions,” Mr Scott said in The Australian.

“Total online sales across the group, including the Catch marketplace, increased to $2.1 billion. This reflects the significant investment in digital capabilities over recent years, as well as the continued change in customer preferences towards online shopping,” he said.

While Bunnings’ operating revenue increased by 13.9 per cent to $14.999 billion and earnings increased 13.9 per cent to $1.85 billion, earnings at Kmart and Target fell 23.5 per cent to $410 million. Officeworks’ earnings rose 13.8 per cent to $197 million, Wesfarmers’ industrial safety operations saw earnings dive by 53.5 per cent to $39 million, according to The Australian.

Revenue for fiscal 2020 rose 10.5 per cent to $30.846 billion. The Wesfarmers accounts showing a statutory profit of $1.697 billion which was down sharply compared to 2019 because the profit that year of $5.51 billion included $3.57 billion relating to the demerger of Coles and the divestment of other businesses, according to The Australian.