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Client News

Brisbane – Former PanAust managing director and resources industry veteran Dr Fred Hess has been appointed a non-executive director of Brisbane-based MPX (Mining Projects Accelerator).

MPX is a project generator that uses cutting edge artificial intelligence and machine learning information, combined with traditional exploration techniques to accelerate the identification of drill targets on prospective mining leases in Australia. 

Dr Hess had been with PanAust for 13 years including four as managing director. Prior to joining PanAust, Fred managed the Macreas Gold Mine in New Zealand and the Mt Gordon Copper Mine in Australia following a career with WMC Resources and Bougainville Copper Limited in Papua New Guinea.

He will take up his appointment in April.

Mining industry veteran Dr Fred Hess

MPX Executive Director Grant Wechsel said, “Dr Hess joins MPX with over 30 years experience in the industry across copper, nickel and gold operations including assessing project opportunities and exploration programs, through to developing operating mines, which will be a huge asset for the MPXteam.” 

Established by Ortus Mining Capital with interests in Singapore, Laos and Australia, MPX’s strategy is to accelerate high potential mining projects along the value curve using robust technical analysis, proven leadership teams and astute capital raising programs.

MPX is currently building a stable of projects within the accelerator having secured a number of promising leases already and some strong prospects across different commodities in Australia.  

Fred Hess said, “I’m very attracted to the idea of trying to accelerate the identification and development of an economic ore deposit by rapidly screening multiple project opportunities. By selectively gathering data that can quickly inform the decision to continue to invest or discard, this helps to spread risk for investors while maximising the chances for success.

“I see the ‘accelerator’ approach using the latest advances in information technology as the new way forward for exploration. I look forward to providing strategic direction to the company through both the project filtering and subsequent development phases.”

MPX Executive Director Simon Cohn said, “The traditional time frames to discover new projects and accelerate them to development and ultimately production is leaving a future gap on the supply side in the gold industry.  

“We believe the use of technology to better identify targets and also continue to analyse drilling results combined with a laser focus by management on only taking suitable projects forward is a very real point of difference in the Australian market.

“Having someone of Fred’s standing in the industry to advise on project selection and strategy is a huge benefit for us and we look forward to working with him.”

The MPX board is targeting a mid-2019 launch by completing a fully funded initial capital raising. It is proposed that the accelerator will launch with 6-10 projects initially and that this will be progressively augmented by further additions.

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Client News

BRISBANE – Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN), a leading worldwide provider of payment technology and software solutions, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Sentral Education in Australia, further expanding its educational market capabilities.

The cloud-based school management platform streamlines school administration, student management and data management. The acquisition will accelerate product enhancement and development for schools using Sentral’s school management platform and aligns well with Global Payments technology-enabled, software driven payments strategy.

“We are excited to be a part of the Global Payments team,” said Greg Coffey, General Manager of Sentral Education. “It will be business as usual for our clients. Sentral’s core values, vision and customer centric approach continue to be at the heart of our future operations and strategy. Sentral is dedicated to providing market-leading school management software and we look forward to introducing additional innovation and further enhancing our platform.”

“We are delighted to welcome Sentral Education to Global Payments,” said Mark Healy, Managing Director of Global Payments Australia and New Zealand. “Sentral was founded and run by a group of truly passionate individuals who are dedicated to making schools better. Software integration is at the core of our businesses and Sentral will benefit from the global expertise we have not just in payments, but in school management solutions. The acquisition aligns perfectly with our strategy of providing market leading software and great user experiences in technology solutions and payments.”

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Blog

With ongoing algorithm changes to Facebook and Instagram in particular, the ability to communicate directly with your own database is more important than ever.

One medium of communication that is seeing a resurgence in value by organisations and marketers is the now humble email.

But what is it about email messaging that has lasted and brought it back into vogue as a valuable marketing tool?

Put simply, it is the only guaranteed-delivery option the internet has left.

As The Wall Street Journal’s technology reporter Christopher Mims recently wrote, “In the #deletefacebook era, it’s become a way to fight back against the algorithms that try to dictate what people see.”

Readers sign up to receive email communication and whilst your communication remains relevant, that should prevent them from hitting the unsubscribe button. Email is still free and a direct way of communication which can be personalised.

The key is take the view that you’re building a loyal and engaged community. Members are looking for you to provide insight, authenticity and interesting information — not just sales spiels.

And whilst the Snapchat generation may view email as being antiquated and not immediate, they all have email accounts. The truth is that you can’t rely on email marketing alone and you will ignore social media platforms at your peril. However, email marketing should hold a key place in your marketing communications mix.

email marketing

Mims quotes Wales-based jeans company Hiut Denim co-founder David Hieatt as saying, “If you ask me, would I want a mail­ing list with 1,000 peo­ple on it or 100,000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, I’d take the 1,000 emails all day long, be­cause the busi­ness you get from 1,000 emails will be much more than you get from 100,000 peo­ple on Twit­ter or In­sta­gram.”

Your email database is valuable and can be maximised from a marketing perspective very cost effectively. Ensure you build your database and gain the contact details of each new client or prospect.

Two very effective marketing programs which enable you to market effectively to your email database include Mailchimp and Marketo.

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that helps you to create marketing campaigns and share with clients, customers and other contacts. Mailchimp will assist with your list management and compliance with direct mail requirements. The platform enables you to manage subscribers, generate custom reports, view click-through and success rates, track your emails, and ensure full transparency of campaigns.

Marketo is a powerful engagement service offering a cloud-based email marketing platform with a range of capabilities including marketing automation, social marketing, lead nurturing, budget management, analytics, sales insight, and website personalisation. One of the big benefits is native integration with CRM suites such as Salesforce.com. A leading digital marketing suite, Marketo will streamline your email marketing processes and enable you to provide unique customer offers through personalisation.

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Client News

Mineral explorers are now able to reap the benefits of using artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse large amounts of geological data in identifying possible mineral deposits with the launch to market of a new data analytics solution.

Brisbane-based analytics and technology company Orefox has begun working with Mining Projects Accelerator (MPX) in assessing data identification of drill targets on prospective gold and copper targets in Australia. 

Orefox is the company commercialising the research undertaken by Quantum Geology on Artificial Intelligence and deep learning driving ore discoveries. 

Orefox founder and CEO Warwick Anderson said it was satisfying to bring the offering to market after several years of research and development culminating in securing MPX as a foundation client.   

“We’ve developed a system that utilises a hybrid artificial intelligence capability to analyse huge amounts of geological data and then collate patterns in that data,” Mr Anderson said. 

“The patterns uncovered by this process are patterns that a human geologist could never see as the datasets are simply too large and complex for a person to make sense of.

“We are delighted that MPX, who are the foundation client for Orefox, could see that this technology can accelerate the discovery of new ore deposits for them.”  

Orefox has participated in the Unearthed Accelerator Program.  Parent company Quantum Geology also counts Queensland University of Technology (QUT) as a shareholder through their QUT Bluebox company. QUT Bluebox is the innovation, venture and investment company for the university.

At a time when mining investment is rising and the need for new discoveries to meet future demand is high, Orefox is providing these services to market not to replace traditional exploration, but to work with client’s geology teams to accelerate the discoveries. 

“Our mission is to put our clients at the centre of geological data science innovation, allowing them to make bigger mineral deposit discoveries, faster,” Mr Anderson said.

MPX Co-founder and Director Grant Wechsel said the technology had the potential to help fast track the development of suitable projects.

“We believe heavily in the use of this technology from Orefox to help us analyse data and more accurately identify drill targets, which will help us focus on moving suitable projects forward in an accelerated time frame,” Mr Wechsel said.

Orefox has officially launched to market after Mr Anderson spoke at the Geological Survey of Queensland’s Digging Deeper 2018 forum and announced the commercialisation of the Quantum Geology research.  

In addition to their founding client, Orefox is speaking with a number of ASX-listed companies about providing services and welcomes enquiry from other interested parties.

About Orefox.
Orefox works with mining companies to put them at the center of geological data science innovation. Our artificial intelligence and machine learning allows companies to increase efficiency and success in finding new ore deposits. www.orefox.com

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Blog

If you’re looking for a great experience to entertain clients, supporters, staff and partners then a day at the races is definitely something to be considered.

 

Whether you’re into betting and the horses — or not — a day at the races offers something for everyone. Racing clubs are not just in the business of horse racing, they’re in the business of hospitality with most race courses offering a number of venues and experiences to suit all comers.

 

Some venues at the track can cater for a crowd of a couple of hundred or down to smaller groups and can do stand-up catering or sit down, depending upon the sort of function you’d like to have.

 

The horse racing can be great background entertainment or central to the day, the venues can tailor to suit, or you can look for an event manager to tie it all together and facilitate the type of experience required.

 

 

RGC recently managed a race-day for agri-products trader Cory Johnston to celebrate their 50 years in business in 2018.

 

Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane was the venue for the day where Cory Johnston took out naming rights sponsorship for the nine-event race card. This was a great platform for them to leverage the day through television signage exposure and at the racecourse.

 

120 guests were entertained with Brisbane Racing Club’s hospitality team looking after the guests superbly in a private room and trackside experiences offered to guests including rail access to the starting gates and opportunities to watch a race from the race caller’s room, with a view of the action not to be missed.

 

Experienced MC and race day host Mark Forbes of Game On International was engaged to facilitate the formal proceedings and entertain guests. Event photography was provided by EV Photo – if you’re going to the expense and trouble to organise a significant event then make sure it is covered properly by a professional photographer. The results are priceless.

 



Racing clubs are not just in the business of horse racing, they’re in the business of hospitality


 

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Client News

 

Meat and agri-products trader Cory Johnston is celebrating its 50th year of operation in 2018 and is confident about its future after a decade where turnover has doubled in size through a strong commitment to customers and a diversification of its product range.

 

Specialising in sourcing and supplying an extensive range of protein-based produce: chilled and frozen meats, grains, pulses, oil seeds, and various vegetable and animal protein meals, Cory Johnston is targeting the food service industry, smallgoods manufacturers and opportunities for growth through its grain and meals division.

 

Cory Johnston director Peter Shearer said domestic meat trading had been the main foundation of the business but that the company was looking at opportunities in new markets.

 

“International trade is expanding for us and we’re looking at new markets including in Latin America and Europe,” Shearer said.

 

Shearer said that grain and associated products, whilst making up about a quarter of the business, would look to expand as the company invests more resources into that part of the business.

 

He said that a focus on the supply of food products in the community was centred on quality and sustainable operations.

 

“People are becoming a lot more concerned about where their food comes from,” Shearer said. “We work closely with suppliers to get the right quality products to the right sections of the market.”

 

Cory Johnston was formed in 1968 after frozen beef retrieved from a distressed cargo ship – which had caught fire off the Queensland coast – needed to be sold in the domestic market on behalf of the insurance company. This opportunity lead to Douglas Cory and the late Don Johnston forming a partnership which lead to the creation of Cory Johnston Pty Ltd later that year.

 

The continued growth in business, as well as astute investments, allowed Doug Cory to diversify into cold storage which led to the establishment of the Doboy Coldstores in 1976.

 

Late in 1987, Doug decided to purchase Don Johnston’s share in the business. This resulted in Cory Johnston (NSW) which operated together with Cory Johnston for the next eight years. After that time the Cory Johnston (NSW) office was (by mutual agreement) divested.

 

In 2001, Doug decided to step back from his commitments and negotiated the sale of Cory Johnston to younger brother Trevor and long-time employee Peter Shearer. Under the direction of Trevor and Peter, the business has continued to diversify and prosper. In early 2012, Cory Johnston moved from its home of 26 years at Doboy Coldstores to new offices in the Metroplex Development at Murarrie.

 

Trevor Cory will be retiring from the business in 2019 and attributes much of the success of Cory Johnston to its staff and their market knowledge.

 

“Knowing what our clients need and making sure that need is filled coupled with our financial reliability has been the cornerstone to our longevity and in building successful relationships,” Cory said.

 

“We see opportunities to build the by-products part of the business, such as tallow, poultry oil and feather meal and to increase supply to stock feed manufacturers.

 

“Whilst I’m looking forward to retirement, the business is in very good hands with opportunities in the near term for continued expansion.”

 

For further information on Cory Johnston visit: www.coryjohnston.com.au

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Blog

 

When State Street Global Advisors wanted to make a statement about boardroom diversity in companies around the world, they settled on a PR ‘stunt’ that captured public attention and ensured millions of dollars in publicity for their company and their cause.

 

What they didn’t bargain on was themselves being subject to action for a gender-related issue with their own employees to take the gloss off what was a well-executed installation.

 

The bronze statue ‘Fearless Girl’, with hands on hips in a defiant pose, was commissioned and installed near Wall Street in front of the famous Charging Bull statute which itself was commissioned following the stock market crash of 1987 to signal the American people’s strength and power.

 

Fearless Girl was originally installed on Wall Street on the eve of International Women’s Day 2017, accompanied by a call on the companies in which State Street Global Advisors invests to increase the number of women on their corporate boards.

 

Since that day, State Street – which has assets under management of nearly $3 trillion — has focused on more than 700 publicly-traded companies without a single woman on their board. Among those companies, 152 have since added a female director to their board and another 34 companies have pledged to do so. The firm has also voted against more than 500 companies that failed to take action.

 

The statue dominated social media from its launch, garnering more than one billion Twitter impressions in the first 12 hours, eventually reaching 4.6 billion impressions and 745 million Instagram impressions over 12 weeks. Millions of dollars in news media value has also been generated.

 

The statue and campaign has been successful in sending a strong diversity call into boardrooms not just in the US but around the world. She is soon to be relocated to Wall Street, opposite the New York Stock Exchange.

 

What wasn’t factored into the campaign was action against the company itself discriminating against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than male colleagues, according to US regulators.

 

In late 2017, the company announced it was paying $5 million to settle charges that it underpaid about 300 of its own female employees. Whilst it has disputed the findings of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programmes relating to salaries back in 2010-11, it decided to cooperate and settle in order to bring about a resolution.

 

The irony in the timing of the settlement of the charges was not lost on many as it occurred while Fearless Girl was still gathering massive attention for its gender-equity goal.

 

It shows that despite the best intentions, such a high-profile marketing ploy ensured intense scrutiny of the company and its own operations and would have caused many red faces at the Boston-based financier.

“We feel comfortable that the issue of gender diversity within our own company is an area where we are very committed,” State Street Global Advisors vice-president of marketing communications and global marketing Liz Serotte, who was part of the team who created the Fearless Girl campaign, told The Australian Financial Review.

 

“We’ve made steady progress and we can point to a lot of the advances that we’ve made in the past five years or so in hiring women at executive levels, [and] promotions of women at executive levels.”

 

Fearless Girl also was met with criticism from the American-Italian artist who created Charging Bull, which has stood south of Wall Street for nearly 30 years, alleging that Fearless Girl breached his copyright and distorted his artistic message and vowed to sue.

Main image credit: Flickr Anthony Quintano | quintanomedia

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Client News

Travellers paid more for their domestic tickets in 2017, while corporate international fares remained flat and leisure travellers paid on average 4.3% less for their long-haul tickets.

 

According to the latest 4D FOCUS – AUSTRALIA Aviation and Airfare Analysis, compiled by Flight Centre Travel Group’s 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting division – (purchased) domestic economy corporate and leisure ticket prices rose, on average 3.5% and 8.9% in 2017 respectively.

 

The report includes a benchmarking study that compares tickets purchased from FCTG’s corporate and retail businesses in 2017 compared to 2016 and 2015 airfares.

 

Felicity Burke, General Manager of 4D, said the ticket increases the business had witnessed during the year in the domestic space had been driven by strong consumer demand, steady tourism growth and gradual increases in carrier published fares.

 

“Both Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia increased their published airfares during the year, with the largest percentage increases on the economy class restricted airfares,” Felicity said. “The carrier-driven increases have pushed the cheaper ‘leisure traveller’ airfares upwards to the range of 2.5% to 8%. Also noted are business class fare increases of between 2% to 8% and economy class flexible fares 2% to 7% during 2017.”

 

Felicity said the positive news was that international economy fares for corporates had remained flat in 2017 and leisure travellers had another year of excellent value, low-priced long-haul fares.

 

With approximately 62 airlines now servicing the international landscape, Felicity said Australian travellers continued to be ‘spoilt for choice with carriers, flight frequencies and in-flight product’.

 

FCTG Managing Director, Graham Turner, said the golden era of travel continued to shine brightly for travellers.

 

“Competitive international airfares, new direct flights such as the Perth to London, more frequent services, continually improved in-flight amenities plus unprecedented discounting on some routes are but a few of the positive takeaways from 2017,” Mr Turner said.

 

“If the price of oil continues to rise this could potentially mean ticket prices may increase in the near term. But we’re still going to see some excellent value across the international and domestic landscape as airlines compete for both the corporate and leisure dollar.”



Qantas’ recent start of non-stop services between Perth and London is the first of new city pairs to be offered by the airline as it welcomes new long-range aircraft to its fleet.  Qantas is also targeting ultra-long haul flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York by 2022.

 

John Simeone, Qantas’ Head of Business and Government Sales, said in the report, ‘We’re seeing growth across all markets including the resources sector and the arrival of new aircraft allows us the chance to open new routes, just like Perth-London’.

 

The report indicated that Virgin Australia continued to focus on its guests’ travel experience rolling out wi-fi across the majority of its fleet, introducing Melbourne to Hong Kong flights in 2017 and commencing Sydney to Hong Kong services in July this year.

 

Some of the key findings in 4D’s report are below.

 

Domestic Travel – CORPORATE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

 

(based on 2017 fare benchmarking against 2016 fares)

 

  • Domestic economy class price changes for tickets purchased through FCTG’s corporate brands ranged from a 1% to 9% increase on key routes

  • Corporates flying the CBR – SYD route incurred the lowest increase with fares rising by 1%

  • Those corporates travelling on the ADL – SYD and HBA – MEL routes incurred the largest economy increases of 6% and 9% respectively.

Domestic Travel – LEISURE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

 

(based on 2017 fare benchmarking against 2016 fares)

 

  • From 2016 to 2017 the average price of domestic economy class leisure fares purchased through FCTG’s leisure division increased by 9%

  • The biggest increase for leisure tickets was for the ADL – SYD and MEL – SYD routes where prices increased by an average 14% over 2016

  • Leisure economy travellers flying BNE – PER saw the smallest increase of 4%.

BENCHMARK SUMMARY – Economy Class

 

 

Felicity said the increase in in-bound visitors and domestic tourism, had also impacted the availability of domestic seats with load factors reaching nearly 80% in 2017.

 

“The demand for domestic seats in the leisure space was very strong last year, which has also affected ticket prices,” she said.

 

The 4D report indicated a 2.5% and a 4.6% increase for corporate and leisure domestic fares during the next 18 months provided the carrier mix remained the same along with a positive outlook for the domestic economy.

 

Additionally four key industry themes have been highlighted for the year ahead:

 

  • Shifting airfares due to continued airline transformation, strong tourism numbers, solid load factors, a rise in oil prices and positive economic outlook

  • Connected technology such as biometric systems are producing a frictionless international passenger experience, speeding up processing times and reducing airport congestion;

  • Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia ending their trans-Tasman alliance, and Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia making tactical moves to increase market share across the Tasman; and

  • International airlines continuing to adjust their networks from and to Australia, and deploy new aircraft for an improved flight experience.

FAST FACTS

  • MEL- SYD is the busiest domestic route (10.8 million seats – up 1.2% on 2016; 54,500 flights) and 2nd busiest route in the world in 2017 (up from 4th in 2016)


  • Brisbane – Sydney is the next busiest domestic route with 4.7 million seats flown during 2017


  • 8 million inbound visitors into Australia during 2017 (+6.5% on 2016)


  • 62 international airlines operated to/from Australia during 2017


  • 2017 On-time performance:

Virgin Network – departure 85.3%; arrival 83.4%

 

Qantas Network – departure 85.1%; arrival 84.4%.

 

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Client News

Shopping centre owner and manager SCA Property Group (ASX: SCP) has backed continued investor demand for neighbourhood shopping centre investments, launching the third iteration in its highly successful SCA unlisted retail fund strategy, SURF.

 

The third SCA Unlisted Retail Fund, SURF 3, seeks to raise $35 million to help acquire a $57.9 million portfolio of neighbourhood shopping centres in Moama and Swansea in New South Wales, Woodford in Queensland and Warrnambool in Victoria. The opportunity to invest is open to both retail and wholesale investors.

 

The Moama Marketplace, Swansea Woolworths and Woodford Village properties are anchored by a Woolworths supermarket and Warrnambool by Target. Moama is also anchored by a Woolworths petrol outlet.

 

The fund income is primarily from the anchor tenants with 71% of income from Woolworths Limited and Target Australia. The specialty tenants are primarily non-discretionary focused including medical centres, pharmacies and food-based tenancies.

 

The fund has a weighted average lease expiry over 10 years and is forecasting an attractive initial distribution yield of 7.1 per cent.  The fund term is 6.5 years and approximately 30 per cent of distributions are expected to be tax deferred. It is an unlisted closed end property unit trust registered as a managed investment scheme with a minimum investment of $25,000.

 

SURF Fund Manager Melissa Kingham said, “Already we have over 50% registered interest from SMSF trustees who are looking for long average lease expiries and stable distributions.”

 

SCA engaged Australia’s leading economic location advisory firm Location IQ to undertake a demographic review of each of the assets. The research found the main trade area for all locations was growing and primarily comprised couples with dependants. The populations are typically strongly associated with the local convenience shopping facilities.

 

Location IQ also found the Warrnambool Target had a trade area population of more than 95,000, nearly double the typical trade area population for a discount department store-anchored shopping centre of 50,000 people.

 

SURF 3 Fund Manager Melissa Kingham said the research gave SCA confidence that each of the assets was well positioned to deliver on the targeted distribution rate.

 

“All four assets are surrounded by populations that, demographically speaking, are pre-disposed to visit their local shops for groceries and other essentials,” she said.

 

SURF 3 Portfolio Overview*

Property

WALE (years)

GLA (sqm)

Anchor Tenant

Valuation

Moama Marketplace, NSW

14.39

4,514

Woolworths

$14 million

Swansea Woolworths, NSW

15.76

3,677

Woolworths

$15.3 million

Warrnambool Target, Vic

5.82

6,983

Target

$16 million

Woodford Woolworths, QLD

8.39

3,668

Woolworths

$12.6 million

TOTAL

10.3

18,842

 

$57.9 million

*As at valuation date of 31 March 2018


SCA Property Group Chief Executive Officer Anthony Mellowes said the SURF series had proven extremely popular with retail investors seeking exposure to convenience-based shopping centre assets, underpinned by the security of long leases to anchor tenants.

 

“Both the SURF 1 and SURF 2 offerings are now closed and investors are happy with their quarterly distributions,” he said. “Each of the assets has a strong lease profile, quality tenant base and together provide broad geographic diversity.

 

“SCA will manage the assets on behalf of the fund and will co-invest a minimum of 20% of the amount to be raised.”

 

The SURF 1 and SURF 2 unlisted property funds have delivered unitholders annual returns more than 8% and 7% respectively since being launched in October 2015 and June 2017.

 

SURF 3 was independently reviewed by Core Property Fund Research and Ratings and ‘recommended’ for investment.

 

Managing Director of Core Property Dinesh Pillutla commented that the interest for direct property investment was due to predictable income distributions with potential for capital growth. SMSF investors are also looking for regular distributions with tax deferral benefits.

 

The properties are currently owned by SCA Property Group and will be acquired on an arm’s length basis following an independent valuation carried out by JLL of $57.9 million with a weighted average capitalisation rate of 6.92%.

 

SCA utilises the SURF structure to provide existing unitholders and other investors with an opportunity to invest in assets that are non-core to the Group’s future strategy. The SURF 3 portfolio takes to 11 the total number of properties that have been syndicated in this way.

 

The SURF 3 portfolio has a total Gross Lettable Area of 18,842 square metres and Total Site Area including car parking of 44,822 square metres.

 

SCA Property Group owned and/or managed over $2.5 billion of retail properties in Australia as at end December 2017. SCA announced Funds From Operations (FFO) of $56.1 million for the six months to 31 December, 2017, up 4.9% on the same period last year.

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Client News

Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) powerful, pocket-sized chatbot travel assistant, is super-charged and ready to battle the travel grind on behalf of the country’s corporate road warriors.

FCTG today is announcing the Australian arrival of Sam at the btTB GBTA conference in Sydney. The award-winning mobile travel assistant app has been developed by the group’s innovation lab in Europe.

Employing a blend of AI (artificial intelligence) and integrated travel consultant support, Sam overlays the most important features that a business traveller needs with the experience that a leisure traveller enjoys.

Sam is now available for clients of FCTG brands FCM Travel Solutions and academic travel provider Campus Travel. FCTG’s SME business travel specialist Corporate Traveller and entertainment and sports travel brand Stage and Screen, will make Sam available for clients, second half of 2018.

FCTG’s corporate division executive general manager, James Kavanagh, said today’s launch was an exciting milestone for the Australian business travel community following the launch of Sam in the UK and the USA in 2017.

“By downloading Sam, our customers won’t miss a thing,” Mr Kavanagh said. “Sam’s messages are intuitive, helpful and include practical information and advice that is based on context, relevance and a traveller’s personal preferences.”

Mr Kavanagh said Sam fulfilled the necessary travel management functions, but went a step further by tracking a traveller’s location, providing real-time information for traffic and flight delays, and featured interactive city guides, weather updates and gate changes.

“Sam will even give you information about what carousel your luggage is on and allows you to book an Uber ride within the app,” Mr Kavanagh said. “Plus, some of the new functionality that’s on its way, is a perfect example of how AI is redefining the travel management space.”

“Across the USA and UK FCM has travellers from more than 80 national and multi-national companies currently using Sam. A recent survey of our USA clients who had downloaded the app, included comments from customers who were loving the ‘automated weather and traffic’ alerts and many praising the real time updates following the recent storms across the US East Coast.”



Sam Also Brings The World’s First ‘Chatbot Assisted Community’


As part of FCTG’s announcement, customers will also be shown the new ‘Community’ functionality – which is a first for the Australian and global business travel industry.

‘Sam Community’ – soon to be released, taps into the knowledge and experience of a global community of business travellers, serving up user-generated tips and advice based on a traveller’s location or when they ask Sam for assistance or inspiration.

FCM Travel Solutions general manager Melissa Elf said the tips and advice that would be available through the ‘Community’ function were provided by business travellers for business travellers.

“Sam Community acutely focuses on the experience of the traveller and how to enhance that traveller’s situation then and there. By providing locally relevant and personalised advice that’s consistently up to date, the entire traveller experience is going to be safer, easier and more enjoyable,” said Mrs Elf.

As well as ‘Sam Community’, the FCTG team will also be showcasing other new Sam functions that are coming soon including:

Sam for Travel Bookers:
Sam will ensure Travel Bookers are aware of potential issues impacting their traveller(s) and prompt appropriate actions including booking changes and communication with the traveller to ensure their wellbeing.

Enhanced traveller safety features:
Sam will soon recognise the user’s location via a blend of itinerary information and GPS and match this to any critical incidents, triggering real time relevant alerts with an ability to respond with appropriate action for the individual traveller.

Deeper integration:
Sam currently integrates with many leading service providers including Uber, Lyft and Certify, and is in the process of growing its integration with global travel suppliers.
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