Tough Times for Super Retail Group
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, in its January’s release of Retail Trade Figures, revealed that Australian retail turnover fell 0.3 per cent in January 2020. Undeniably, the first quarter of 2020 has shown little mercy on local businesses as the country grapples with the outbreak of the coronavirus following the bushfire episode. Likewise, outdoors and automotive retailer, Super Retail Group, has not been spared from the brunt.
The firm has emerged as one of the first major retailers to quantify the impact of drought and bushfires on the broader economy, cautioning that sales across its outdoor and camping wear businesses were hit over the past few months. More notably, Super Retail revealed that more than 50 of its BCG camping brand outlets were directly hit by the fire and drought. At the same time, sales slowed by 0.5 per cent as Australians steered away from the bush.
Chief executive Anthony Heraghty noted that the bushfires have clashed with BCF’s peak holiday trading period and that it indeed was a unique trend occurring in the retail space. Additionally, the owner of flagship Supercheap Auto and Revel sport has noted that like-for-like sales, which excludes store opening were flat for November and December 2019.
Evidently, these effects have subsequently been reflected in its half-year earnings. Super Retail Group announced a 19.9 per cent decline in net income for the period as well as close to 20 per cent dive in profits. The firm’s performance was also weighed down by one-off expenditure, including a $12.6 billion expense related to back paying underpaid employees and the impact of the new accounting standard. Despite the poor performance, the retail conglomerate continued to declare an interim dividend of 21.5 cents per share.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) has called on Super Retail Group for underpaying its employees, a collective sum approaching $8 million more than what was previously announced. While Super Retail has already announced an underpayment of workers in 2018 and 2019, the latest results brought the total sum from $40 million two years ago to $61.2 million today.
The firm which has admitted to underpaying its staff asserted that the number had jumped as its employees did not receive all overtime payments and allowance stipulated under the award. While workers are paid on an annualised structure, checks that workers have not been working rosters that entitle them to more than they have been getting by way of an annualised pay have not been implemented.
SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer noted that the growing list of employers underpaying their workers posted as an epidemic for the local economy. While clocking on and off may appear to be additional protection for employees, the string of recent underpayments reported by major retailers further emphasised the need for the reinstatement of random spot checks of company’s payrolls.
By Caroline Wong
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