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TABLOID: Retail Spray

TABLOID: Retail Spray

When you have just reported to the ASX a 53-week after-tax profit of $10.2 million on revenues of $227 million from a company started in your garage, you have the right to an opinion.

The Strathfield Group Limited's managing director, Andrew Kelly, let loose with a spray at fellow retail success story Gerry Harvey the other day when talking about the acquisition of Eworld and his company's fiscal 99 results.

SGL is a Compaq reseller, so an ARN scribe thought it would be prudent to ask what he thought of Compaq's retail plans and Harvey Norman's split with the vendor. Tabloid is compelled to publish those parts of his response that ARN couldn't or wouldn't.

Kelly said Compaq's stores don't represent a problem to him as he is "used to that sort of competition" in the communications business.

"We had to cope with that. It is just reality," he said.

"Gerry Harvey going on like that [over Compaq stores] is just a joke. Computer manufacturers can sell direct if they want to. That is what they are in business for.

"If we tried to tell Telstra, 'You can't sell mobile phones,' they would just laugh. They own the thing."

Kelly also warned that HN would have to look out for companies such as Bing Lee. "Unless you are a retailer that can provide a point of difference and add value, then you can't exist," Kelly said. "You see Bing Lee on TV saying they will come and deliver after hours and I think, well Gerry, you better start doing that or you won't survive. I don't know whether HN delivers at night, but Bing Lee is on TV saying, 'We are doing things different and we do it better.' That's what the punters want to hear."

Tabloid will be pleased to publish Harvey Norman's reply . . . (Gerry, please address it to arn_tabloid@idg.com.au).

It's silly season already . . .

Barely into September and the silly season has already started in earnest, though some would ask if it ever stopped.

The folks at business diagramming software house Visio decided to have a casual day at the new office in North Sydney. By a quirk of fate, a visitor with an uncanny resemblance to a current spy movie character dropped in on the staff meeting and, well, a Tabloid spy managed to "capture the moment". We understand that Angus (Gus) Robertson, who started the Visio Australia story in his basement in 1996, is excited about his new digs, and together with brother Scott as channel manager is looking for the next excuse for a party.

While Tabloid refuses to be reduced to the worn-out references such as "shagadelic", limited copy space and common sense suggests that for information on Visio or the Visio staffers pictured here, you contact marketing coordinator Bianca Yellas (middle row, second from right).

And in a different role than normal, Toshiba ISD national marketing manager Mark Whittard decided to entertain some of his channel buddies with an impromptu performance during the recent TargetBuster tour to Fiji. According to another Tabloid source, few thought the usually mild-mannered Whittard had the ticker to get up in a grass skirt in front of his industry colleagues . . . a straw pole conducted by Tabloid suggests he certainly doesn't have the legs.

Minister gives Yank a serve

By Sandy Cremorne

Even Sir Les Patterson would have been proud of the way that his counterpart, Senator Richard Alston, Federal Minister for Communication, Information Technology and Theyaartz, dealt with the President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Nadine Strossen, last week.

After Strossen was reported to have described Australia as a "global village idiot" in relation to its policies intended to protect children from illegal material on the Internet, Alston fired off a few salvos of his own in a press release.

Among the pearls addressed to Strossen by our minister were:

"Her comment is an unfortunate example of the arrogant disdain shown by some visiting 'experts'."

"Australia is not the US."

"Australians believe that promotion of individual 'freedoms' must be balanced by the wider social good."

"Australians are proud of our sensible approach to issues such as gun control, health care and social welfare. We believe it compares very favourably to the US approach."

"We are similarly proud of our approach to content classification which is in contrast to the US approach, under which free speech considerations have led to the outlawing of attempts to protect children from pornography or extreme violence."

In the release, Alston asked, "Does she seriously believe that material which is illegal offline - such as bomb recipes, paedophile lists and incitement to racial violence - should be permitted on the Internet in the interests of freedom of speech?"

Thought for the week

A blonde, a brunette, a redhead, a vicar, a priest, a rabbi, two giraffes and a duck, a farmer, a lawyer, an accountant, a Mexican, an Indian, a Chinaman, an Irishman, an English- man and a Scotsman walk into a bar.

The barman says, "Hang on a minute, is this some sort of joke?"


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