Business News Releases

Plain tobacco packaging proven to have no effect but a burden to retailers

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said today after a year of implementation the plain packaging experiment is not working and has had no impact on legal tobacco volumes.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the change to plain packaging has been a waste of retailers’ time and resources.

"The ARA has long argued these changes were an unnecessary burden for small to medium retailers, and it is now evident that this initiative has had absolutely no effect.

"We are also very aware of reports from retailers that illegal tobacco products are swamping the market, and this has only been made worse by plain packaging which has seen product move out of well regulated legal distribution through retailers.

“Since plain packaging was introduced on 1 December last year, legal cigarette sales overall have remained very stable while illegal sales have increased, suggesting people are smoking more and paying less. The cheap price segment which represents the lower end of the legal market has actually grown by 33 percent since plain packaging was introduced, according to industry today.

“The ARA will be making the point to the government the effects of further excise and price hikes will only exacerbate the illegal tobacco trade,” Mr Zimmerman said.  

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit or call 1300 368 041


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THE Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) annual general meeting held today delivered changes of the guard with Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive officer, Andrew Conway taking the role of chairman.

COSBOA Council members wholeheartedly endorsed the focus of COSBOA on the fact that small business are people first and deserve the same rights and treatment as other people in the community,” said Mr Conway.

“There is no doubt a natural fit with my role at the IPA as we are fully focused on this most critical contributor to the Australian economy; the small business sector.

“Many of our members are either small business people or they are practices serving the small business community.

“I am very fortunate to take up the new challenge on the base of good work of Amanda Lynch who has been an excellent chairperson over the past year.

“I am looking forward to the year ahead to drive key initiatives that support the small business community and to work on building a more credible voice for small business,” said Mr Conway.



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Emerchants signs five year agreement with Qld Government

Emerchants Limited (emerchants) (ASX:EML) is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary, Emerchants Payment Solutions Limited, has signed five year agreement with the State of Queensland through the Department of Treasury and Trade (Queensland Treasury Department) to become a preferred supplier of prepaid card solutions.

The agreement includes the option of two consecutive two year contracts which could take it to nine years.

The Queensland Treasury Department has appointed preferred suppliers for prepaid cards, such as emerchants, whose solutions will allow all of its various departments and agencies to benefit from the cost savings, fraud control, and risk control advantages prepaid brings over traditional funds disbursement mechanisms such as credit cards, cash and cheques.

With emerchants’ extensive background in comprehensive prepaid program management driven by its proprietary platform, SAM, the processing capabilities and strong focus on risk and compliance provide the Queensland Government the capability to tailor solutions that offer more control and flexibility in managing its varied payment processes.

In commenting on the agreement, Tom Cregan, Managing Director of emerchants, said: “emerchants’ primary focus is on tailoring prepaid programs to meet each customer’s needs, simplifying the administration of payments, whilst providing greater control through our innovative approach to prepaid cards. We believe that the approach taken by the Queensland Treasury Department is the right one. Our focus with each agency is on identifying the opportunity and consequently designing a solution that delivers savings whilst maximising the benefits that flow on to taxpayers.”

emerchants has partnered with Visa to create marketing and training materials to support the launch of the prepaid card programs.

The partnership reinforces Visa’s commitment to emerchants and its long term growth strategy. emerchants is looking forward to leveraging the experience that Visa has in other international government programs.

emerchants is one of Australia’s leading providers of innovative prepaid payment solutions and its unique position in the market as an end to end prepaid provider has led to this five year agreement.

The Company’s consultative approach allows the Queensland Treasury Department to tailor each payment process to gain administrative efficiencies, provide a better experience to the Queensland public, and have the oversight and controls to minimise the risk of fraud and misuse of public funds.

The first emerchants prepaid program to be rolled out will be the Disaster Recovery Card for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities Services.

This will allow the Department’s Community Recovery unit to quickly and efficiently distribute assistance grants during a declared disaster.

In commenting on the Disaster Recovery Card, Mr Cregan said: “The Queensland Government has identified the need to have a scalable solution that can be rolled out at a moment’s notice to support the Queensland public during the time of their greatest need. A solution has been developed that allows the efficient processing and distribution of grants, whilst minimising the risk of fraud through segregated administrative responsibilities and with a strong focus on control and oversight.”

emerchants’ Business Development Team will work with the Queensland Government to agree timeframes for the communication to other agencies and Government departments, to arrange meetings with select Government agencies, and organise seminars for Government managers as the first stage of the engagement roll out plan.

In further commenting on the agreement, Mr Cregan said: “Whether it is Community support, public funds disbursement or the improvement of petty cash and general expense management, we look forward to applying our expertise and capabilities to work with the various Queensland Government agencies and departments to develop prepaid solutions that provide the right mix of efficiency, transparency, and control.”


emerchants is a payments solutions provider of prepaid financial card products and services in Australia. By using their proprietary Secure Account Management (SAM) system, the Company provides its clients with innovative financial service payment solutions for reloadable and non-reloadable prepaid card programs.

emerchants are able to adapt to meet the expense management and funds disbursement needs of any organisation. Their corporate expense, petty cash, per diem, social payments and staff rewards programs are easy to implement and reduce administration burden and costs. emerchants is focused on the twin goal of delivering high quality payment systems to its customers and superior returns to its shareholders.

For more information please visit:



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Retailers prepare for biggest online shopping day next Sunday

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said online retailers were looking forward to Sunday December 8 – the day eBay and PayPal have announced as the biggest mobile shopping day ever, with more mobile purchases predicted from Australian websites on this day than ever before.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said approximately 2.3 million Australians will visit eBay on this day alone of which a record 1.28 million will come via a mobile device – 30 percent more than the busiest online shopping day in 2012 (December 9).

“Online retailers are in for a busy few weeks, with a record 140,000 items forecast to be sold and $5 million worth of goods traded via a mobile on this day – 40 percent more than in 2012.

“Shoppers will 'click into Christmas' more than ever this year, and the ARA has been working alongside retailers to ensure their websites are as user friendly as possible in the lead up to Christmas.

“eBay predicts that on December 8, a piece of women’s clothing will sell every eight seconds and a piece of fashion jewellery will sell every 20 seconds via a mobile device. An average of more than 200 items will be sold on every minute –a marked increase from last year,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Nicolette Maury, Buyer Experience Director, eBay Australia, said Australians are leaders when it comes to mobile adoption.

“In 2012, Australians who shopped online via a connected device were the minority but this Christmas more Australians will visit eBay via a mobile device than their fellow desktop shoppers.

“It’s become really clear this year that Australia is a nation of multi-taskers, using connected devices to multi-screen from the couch or to search for Christmas gifts on the way in to work. And it’s not just stocking fillers or last minute gifts that shoppers are heading online for this Sunday. 1800 fitness items and 1600 pieces of furniture will be purchased via a mobile device which means that consumers don’t think twice about purchasing large ticket items online anymore,” Ms Maury said.

Jeff Clementz, MD, PayPal Australia said the mobile trend is not isolated to eBay.

PalPal are also expecting to see one in three transactions during the peak Christmas buying period to occur via mobile, up from one in five last year.

“With more Australians shopping via a connected device, PayPal expects mobile shopping purchases to increase more than 60 per cent this year compared to last year as Australians tap into the trend of buying on the go,” Mr Clementz said.

“Overall, shoppers are expected to put $42.2 billion through retail tills from 14 November until 25 December, representing a 3.5 percent gain on sales during the same period in 2012 ($40.7 billion),” Mr Zimmerman said.

On Sunday December 8, 2013 on

- 390,000 items will be to be sold on on December 8 (17 percent more than the busiest online shopping day in 2012)

- $14.6 million worth of goods will be traded on this day

- An average of more than 200 items sold on every minute

- A piece of women’s clothing will be sold every 4 seconds

- A DVD will be sold every 6 seconds

- A piece of fashion jewellery will be sold every 8 seconds

- A piece of men’s clothing will be sold every 12 seconds

- A home decoration will be sold every 16 seconds

- A piece of furniture will be sold 24 seconds

- A radio controlled toy will be sold every 29 seconds

- A watch will be sold every 35 seconds

- A pair of women’s shoes will be sold every 36 seconds.

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit or call 1300 368 041. 



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Resourcing required for real regional tourism results

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes the release today of the State Government’s Regional Tourism Strategy but is disappointed by the lack of associated funding.

“While Melbourne has demonstrated continual growth, tourism results in some of Victoria’s regions are concerning,” says VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

"This must be addressed, but real government action with appropriate resourcing is crucial.

“We are pleased that the Regional Tourism Boards (RTBs) are in place to effectively market and attract investment into Victoria’s many tourism assets and we wish them continued success in performing their wide-ranging functions. Regional Tourism Boards will drive industry engagement and success in local areas and we encourage operators to get behind these organisations.”

The long-awaited Victoria’s Regional Tourism Strategy 2013-2016 outlines how Tourism Victoria will address regional tourism challenges in the next three years, in line with directions set out in Victoria’s 2020 Tourism Strategy.

Tourism is an important contributor to regional Victoria, generating $10.9 billion and employing 109,000 people in 2011-12.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of many regional communities, not only economically, but also in the cultural and social contribution it makes,” Ms Smith says.

“The State Government must work across portfolios to achieve positive results for all regional Victorians. Positive and decisive leadership from government is essential as many regional economies look to diversify.

“Overnight expenditure by international visitors to regional Victoria fell by more than 20 per cent in the year ending June 2013 and it is essential that this decline is arrested.

“Government must show its support for our industry by immediately allocating funding for a dedicated marketing program to encourage Australians to venture beyond Melbourne and explore the wonderful experiences on offer in regional Victoria.”

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.1 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 201,000 people.



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