Monthly Archives: February 2019

Petbarn operator to continue expanding

Petcare specialist Greencross will continue to expand its retail and vet networks as its seeks to boost its market share in the fast growing sector.

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Greencross is targeting a 20 per cent share of the market, up from its current share of 7.5 per cent.

It currently has 156 Petbarn and City Farmers stores across Australia, 26 Animates stores in New Zealand, and 116 vet practices.

In the current financial year it expects to open at least 15 new pet stores, in addition to the 42 City Farmers pet stores it bought in July.

So far this year, Greencross has opened five new stores.

The company also intends to buy more vet practices to generate an additional $15 million to $20 million in annual revenue.

Greencross has bought five vet practices so far in 2014/15, generating $4.1 million in annualised revenue.

Greencross made a net loss of $128 million in the year to June 30, down from a $7.8 million profit in the prior year, due to a $130 million impairment charge on goodwill arising from its merger with the owner of Petbarn and Animates.

Pro forma net profit, which excludes the goodwill writedown, rose 45 per cent to $21.6 million.

The company said it is finalising the terms of a customer loyalty program covering its vet services and all of its retailers.

Shares in Greencross have been halted from trade ahead of an announcement of a sale of 16.6 per cent of Greencross shares to institutional investors by investment firm TPG Star.

They last traded at $10.00.

GREENCROSS’ RAPID EXPANSION SINCE JUNE 2013

* From 93 vet clinics to 298 clinics and pet stores

* From a market value of $174m to $1.1b

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Cup signals start of new era for Boomers

A new era beckons for Australian basketball and the Boomers are confident they can usher it in without their two leading lights at the World Cup in Spain.

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A new-found depth in the nation’s ranks means even the absence of NBA stars Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut has failed to dent Australia’s optimism heading into their tournament opener against Slovenia in Gran Canaria on Saturday (Sunday morning AEST).

And a squad blending the exciting youth of NBA draft picks Dante Exum and Cameron Bairstow with the experience of Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes has made no secret of its ambitious goal – an historic first World Cup medal.

“That’s the goal and we’re confident we can do that,” said Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova, one of five NBA players in the squad.

“We’ve learned a lot from all our lead-up games and set a really good rhythm. We’re ready to go.”

Despite the unavailability of Mills and Bogut due to injury, coach Andrej Lemanis believes squad depth will be a strength of Australia’s campaign.

A notable feature of Australia’s thorough preparations, winning six of nine warm-up matches in Europe, was a collective contribution from the whole squad rather than one or two standout performers.

That, Lemanis says, will stand Australia in great stead for a gruelling group stage schedule of five games in six days.

“We certainly believe we do have good depth and that’s how we like to play anyway,” Lemanis said.

“We like to rotate a lot of bodies, get people in and keep them fresh on the court.

“Five games in six days is pretty taxing but we feel comfortable that we’re in a position to deal with it.”

The Boomers are in a winnable group also featuring Lithuania, Mexico, South Korea and Angola with the top four teams reaching the round of 16.

The Slovenians, spearheaded by NBA star Goran Dragic, and Lithuania loom as the toughest challenges but Lemanis warns there will be no easy games.

“I saw Korea play New Zealand live and I thought they were outstanding,” Lemanis said.

“I’m a typical coach, I worry about everybody.”

Much of the focus will be on 19-year-old rising star Exum, who was selected by Utah Jazz as fifth pick in this year’s NBA draft.

He was used sparingly in warm-up games and is expected to play mainly as an impact player off the bench, with Turkey-based Ryan Broekhoff having locked down a starting spot with an impressive run of form in recent games.

Exum said he was not concerned about living up to the hype.

Exum is joined on the bench by the likes of fellow Utah recruit Brock Motum, former NBL star Nathan Jawai and veterans David Andersen and Brad Newley.

Regardless of Australia’s performance in Spain, the team is only expected to get stronger heading towards Rio 2016 with exciting prospects Ben Simmons and Thon Maker considered unlucky to miss selection this time.

Despite missing its biggest NBA superstars, the USA are favourites to claim back-to-back titles, with hosts Spain rated a close second.

2014 FIBA WORLD CUP

Spain, August 30-September 14

Groups (Location of preliminary round matches)

Group A (Granada): Spain, Serbia, France, Brazil, Egypt, Iran

Group B (Seville): Philippines, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Greece, Croatia

Group C (Barakaldo): Dominican Republic, Turkey, United States, Finland, New Zealand, Ukraine

Group D (Gran Canaria): Slovenia, Lithuania, Angola, South Korea, Mexico, Australia

Australian squad

David Andersen (Strasbourg), Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls), Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs), Ryan Broekhoff (Besiktas), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Adam Gibson (Adelaide 36ers), Chris Goulding (CAI Zaragoza), Joe Ingles (Maccabi Tel-Aviv), Nathan Jawai (Galatasaray), Brock Motum (Bologna), Brad Newley (Gran Canaria).

2010 World Cup finish: 10th

Best World Cup finish: 5th (1982, 1994)

Odds: To win tournament $151, to win group $3

Overall odds: USA $1.60, Spain $2.50, Serbia $34, Brazil $34, Greece $34.

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30 years jail for Qld double murderer

A Queensland mechanic will spend at least 30 years behind bars for the execution-style killing of two customers over a financial dispute involving a panel van.

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Jurors took about two hours to find Brandon MacGowan, 43, guilty of murdering Mount Isa couple Scott Maitland and Cindy Masonwells in Cairns in July 2012.

Friends and family of the couple applauded when he was handed two life sentences in the Supreme Court in Cairns on Friday.

“Your calculated, callous execution of Mr Maitland and Ms Masonwells, essentially to eliminate the financial problem they presented to you, involves such a high level of culpability,” Justice Jim Henry said during sentencing.

The court heard MacGowan killed the couple, who were in their 30s, because of a long-standing dispute over $14,000 worth of restoration work he had agreed to do on Ms Masonwells’ 1970s panel van.

He collected the couple from the Cairns airport on July 5, 2012, before shooting Mr Maitland in the back of the head and fatally stabbing Ms Masonwells in the back.

Their bodies were dumped in scrub near Cairns.

MacGowan denied the murders, telling the court the last time he saw the couple was when they left his Cairns workshop in a white van on the night they were killed.

Justice Henry said MacGowan was under mounting pressure because he had spent the couple’s money while telling them he had carried out the work on their van even though he had not.

He said MacGowan had been caught out by his lies and the “plethora” of circumstantial evidence against him.

Crown witnesses included two men who recalled seeing a screaming woman fall out of a parked van MacGowan was driving on the night of July 5, 2012.

CCTV showed MacGowan collecting the pair from the airport in a white van, which was later found splattered with the couple’s blood.

A friend of MacGowan testified that MacGowan turned up at his apartment in the early hours of July 6, 2012, covered in blood.

MacGowan’s claim that a third party killed the couple was “utterly fanciful” and it was unbelievable the accused tried to say Mr Maitland was somehow involved, the judge said.

Mr Maitland and Ms Masonwells married in 2009 and moved to Mount Isa from Cairns the following year to work at the mines.

In her victim impact statement, Mr Maitland’s mother, Marjorie, said: “When we finally got the news Cindy and Scott were dead, we thought our lives had hit a brick wall.

“It was so overwhelming we couldn’t absorb the magnitude of the evil, violent crime.”

She also spoke of the heartache of having to watch her grandchild, Scott Maitland’s child from a previous relationship, grow up without a father.

Ms Masonwells’ stepfather and mother, Terence and Sharon Dexter, said in their statement to the court that her death would haunt them until they died.

MacGowan was sentenced to two life sentences with a non-parole period of 30 years.

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Virgin sells loyalty slice as loss widens

Virgin Australia has sold off more than a third of its $960 million loyalty program as its looks to overcome another massive annual loss.

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The airline will also look to cut costs by $1 billion over the next three years, after falling to an annual net loss of $355.6 million – more than a three-fold increase on the previous year’s loss.

Chief executive John Borghetti said the sale of a 35 per cent stake in its frequent flyer program to private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners was expected to improve the airline’s cash balance by $336 million.

The deal values the Velocity program at $960m, and leaves Virgin Australia with a majority stake, and majority representation on a new board which will manage the scheme.

“This is an incredibly exciting growth opportunity for us,” Mr Borghetti said, adding that the airline had plans to grow membership over the next three years to “way more” than seven million.

The sale of part of the Velocity scheme is in stark contrast to the strategy at rival Qantas, which also made a massive loss but decided to hold on to its $2.5 billion frequent flyer program, which has in excess of 10 million members.

And unlike Qantas chief Alan Joyce, who said his airline was on track to return to profit in 2015, Mr Borghetti refused to offer any guidance on Virgin’s future profitability, due to the “economic environment” and because “aviation can be impacted by anything”.

“The Virgin Australia Group will continue to be the protagonist in the Australian aviation market,” he said.

“We will continue to set world class standards in customer experience and we are committed to delivering our strategy of sustainable profitability.

“It would be very brave of me to come up and say, `well, this is what I think we can do’. We’ve got a plan obviously, and we’re confident we’ll get it.”

The past year had been the most difficult operating environment in the history of Australian aviation, Mr Borghetti said.

Virgin blamed its poor result on the capacity war with rival Qantas, weak consumer sentiment, continued economic uncertainty and the $51.6 million cost of the carbon tax.

Its loss included asset impairments of $56.9 million and restructuring costs of $117.3 million.

Excluding those items, Virgin’s underlying loss before tax of $211.7 million was down from $93.8 million in the prior year.

The airline’s cost saving program will focus on making more efficient use of fuel and its fleet, integrating New Zealand into its international business and cutting its long-haul overseas bases to two.

In positive news for the airline, its share of corporate and government markets for passengers had increased to more than 25 per cent, and Mr Borghetti said he was targeting 30 per cent by June 2017.

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA DIVES DEEPER INTO THE RED

* Full year net loss of $355.6m, greater than $98.1m loss in 2012/13

* Revenue of $4.29b, up 7.1 pct from $3.99b

* No dividend, unchanged

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Jihadists behead Iraq Kurdish fighter

The jihadist Islamic State group has posted video of the execution of a captured Kurdish fighter in a warning to Iraqi Kurdish leaders to end military cooperation with Washington.

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The United States has carried out a wave of air strikes against the jihadists in northern Iraq, helping Kurdish forces to claw back ground lost to the militants earlier this month.

The video, titled “A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance,” opens with 15 men in orange jumpsuits standing around the IS flag.

Three of the men ask Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani “and the Kurdish government to end their relationship with the US … military intervention in northern Iraq,” the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service said on Friday.

“Any mistake or recklessness from you will lead to the (loss) of our life,” SITE quoted one of the men as saying.

The video then cuts to three masked men dressed in black standing in front of a mosque with another man wearing an orange jumpsuit kneeling in front of them.

They then behead him.

The video follows another released by IS showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley and threatening another kidnapped reporter Steven Sotloff with the same fate if US air strikes are not halted.

It also comes hot on the heels of video of scores of bodies that IS boasted were those of Syrian soldiers they had captured and executed following their seizure of a northern key air base last weekend.

The jihadists control a vast swathe of territory straddling Iraq and Syria where their abuses have sparked an international outcry.

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