A damning Federal Court judgment has found their Australian 4WD Hire business systematically lied to customers and used unfair contracts to demand they pay the full costs of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles, even if there was no damage.
Ruling on a lawsuit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Justice Darren Jackson cancelled those contracts and fined parent company Smart Corporation $870,000 for misleading or deceptive conduct.
But its former controllers — businessman Vitali Roesch and his wife Maryna Kosukhina — have been given 21 days to repay customers $9,500.
If they do not, they “will be liable to imprisonment, sequestration of property or other punishment”, along with anyone who knowingly helps them breach the order.
The couple will also be forced to pay fines of $179,000 and $174,000 each.
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“But I’m a bit of a funny one. I like that boy who sits in the classroom and now has a voice. Instead of being laughed at or ridiculed or ignored, now he’s got a friendship group that actually understands what he’s involved in.”
More than just an elite talent pathway, the AFL academies are a recruitment program for the code wars – and business is booming, particularly in areas that were once regarded as rugby union heartland.
AFL insiders are reluctant to broach that subject, even privately. They insist they have grown the sporting pie in NSW – not eaten into rugby’s share of it. But the evidence is compelling.
According to AFL NSW/ACT, participation in Sydney’s north and around the city has rocketed by nearly 200 per cent over the last decade. Sport Australia’s AusPlay data shows that, between 2016 and 2019, adult AFL participation in NSW (71,325 in 2019) overtook rugby (52,999).
In 2012, Waratahs amost matched the Swans for average crowds sitting in the mid-20,000 range. After a steady decline since, the Waratahs’ average crowd is almost one-third the size (31,069 vs 13,176 in 2019).
The north shore and eastern suburbs have emerged as footy strongholds, and GPS schools which once pumped out Wallabies are now putting up AFL goalposts to satisfy surging student demand. In 2013 there were only six independent schools in Sydney with AFL programs. Now there are 14, with 62 boys teams.
The academies have helped accelerate a process that was already underway. There are myriad factors involved: the Swans’ ability to contend for finals almost every year, the addition of the GWS Giants in 2012. A cohesive governance and management model, where junior clubs and state bodies know their place in the pecking order. The raging success of AusKick, and growing concerns amongst parents about concussion in the rugby codes. All of these have combined to boost Aussie rules at every level in NSW.
Rugby’s recent struggles, and the woes of the Waratahs, certainly haven’t helped. Anecdotally, there has been a migration of fans from the Waratahs to the Swans, which former ARU chief executive John O’Neill first noted to the Herald two years ago – and current Waratahs boss Paul Doorn also admits has probably occurred.
Greg Harris – the former Waratahs CEO, who played first-grade football in Aussie rules, rugby union and rugby league in Sydney, and was the Swans’ chairman of selectors in 1994-1996 – can also recognise it.
As he made his way to Olympic Park for a Wallabies Test match in 2018, he saw families clad in red and white, orange and charcoal, heading the other way after an AFL derby at Giants Stadium.
“I said to my wife, there’s a whole generation rugby’s lost,” Harris said.
“These things are generational. They don’t happen overnight. I don’t think it’s been a deliberate strategy by the AFL to say, ‘let’s take rugby union’s supporters’. But the AFL long ago identified that every participant brings along a commercial partner. In other words, if my kid’s playing footy, I go and watch footy, and so does my wife and my parents. Participation brings commercial benefits.
“The most important thing you have in any business model is control of your business. That’s what the AFL has. The attitude in rugby is if we beat the All Blacks, the game will be OK. Any business that depends upon one focal point to develop its income stream is always going to be susceptible to failure.”
The phenomenon is being led primarily by the Swans – although that’s to be expected given they have a 30-year head start on the Giants, who face a much tougher task converting the masses in the western suburbs. Most of GWS’s academy graduates come from regional NSW, not western Sydney, but their presence is still being keenly felt, and their average crowds are now almost on par with the Waratahs.
”We are struggling for players. We’re not the only ones,” said Brian Blacklock, the president of the Western Sydney Two Blues rugby club, which is based in Parramatta.
“Whether that’s a byproduct of the growth of Aussie Rules I can’t say, but it certainly wouldn’t be helping. From a branding point of view, they’re killing it. In terms of their ability to be able to clearly identify what their offering is and the potential pathways are, they’re miles in front.
“I remember 20 years ago, there was a fantastic campaign, I want to be a Wallaby. How do I become a Wallaby? Well you start playing here and away you go. That doesn’t exist now. I struggle to name Waratahs players and I’m in the game. Now I couldn’t name a single Swans or Giants players either, but I’m sure their fans have clearly identified who they are and what they’re about.”
Blacklock recalled an old story from a friend, whose son – a Swans and Waratahs fan – was turning 10. He contacted both clubs to see if they could send him any memorabilia.
“The Waratahs sent out a couple of posters and a signed footy. The Swans sent out two injured players to his birthday party,” he said. “It was a while ago, but it sort of shows the difference in resources, and that’s the bottom line.”
Getting them early seems to be the AFL’s modus operandi, and it’s working. Smith said the influence of winning over young athletes, who are “peer leaders” in classrooms and friendship circles, was key to bringing more kids into the tent.
Doorn, who joined the Waratahs at the start of 2020, watches on in envy.
“I’m sure there’s a percentage of people that have shifted from one sport to the other,” he said.
“And I’d like to suggest that when rugby’s going well, there’s a lot of people who would come back. But I’m happy to admit that the success of the Swans in particular and the growth of the GWS Giants means that people have other things they can support.
“We don’t see them as a threat, but they do certain things really, really well, and we aspire to do as well one day.“
A crowd of around 30,000 is expected on Saturday for the AFL derby. The Swans are heavily favoured to go 5-0, and are still riding the wave of energy provided by an influx of impressive draftees – like Gulden, the academy product who is already a fan favourite, four games into his career.
The next ones are coming. Smith can remember how at the start of the Swans academy, there were only about a dozen players in each age group who were competent kicks.
“Now within the academy, the way the boys are whizzing the ball around – and we’re slowly getting that traction with the girls as well – the skill level and the game knowledge has increased significantly over those 10 years,” he said.
“We’ve always been confident that our game, once you actually do play it, it’s a very enjoyable game. All we needed to do is at least give kids at school and in the community an option to play it.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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Start-up Practice Innovators Pty Ltd (PII Australia) has joined forces with health management platform Wanngi to launch a private telehealth service to serve Australia’s aboriginal communities.
The service, launched under PII’s GPNow brand, is designed to help communities make better lifestyle choices and improve their quality of life. These services will be delivered through Wanngi’s platform where users will be able to build personal health accounts that will have symptoms, chronic health conditions, medications and immunisations (including COVID-19) uploaded to one secure place.
“Nothing will ever replace face to face consultations with our medical professionals, however, program-based telehealth services such as SCIA (a service PII launched previously for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia) and now Aboriginal services provide a new way to reach out and improve service for community members,” Robert Hicken, Founder & CEO of PII Australia, said.
“One of the benefits of working with a locally-based partner such as Wanngi is the ability to quickly tailor the platform to meet our client’s specific needs.”
Introduced in 2017, Wanngi is a health management platform that creates a personal medical library for its users. The app enables them to store all their details in one secure HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) Compliant online location and export their history to enhance telehealth sessions.
“Our mission at Wanngi is bringing social change within the health industry by giving individuals the control of managing all of their health and fitness information all within one secure and private mobile platform,” Maree Beare, Founder and CEO of Wanngi, said.
“Time is your enemy with sufferers of chronic illness and delivering of update to date health records in a telehealth appointment can save lives,” Beare added. “We are pleased to be working with the GPNow. Our companies work with similar philosophies and it’s an ideal collaboration coming together as a team to create patient-centric solutions which open up care for the most vulnerable.”
Initially working in conjunction with the Project Telehealth Champion, GPNow and Wanngi are aiming to develop the service a culturally sensitive, pragmatic manner to achieve long-term sustainable healthcare outcomes for aboriginal communities, and to “close the gap” between healthcare for aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians.
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Five start-ups from across Australia have been selected to receive a share of the $200,000 Optus Future Makers Grant to help bring their innovative business ideas to life.
The five finalists were chosen from among the many that have submitted their respective pitches and presented to an expert panel of Optus executives that included Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CEO, Richard Webby, MD Digital, Kate Aitken, VP HR, Andrew Buay, VP Group Sustainability and Helen Maisano, Director Optus Group Sustainability. Clive Dickens, VP TV, Content and Product Development was also involved in selecting the start-ups and presenting during the program.
Nitin Fernandez, Co-founder of the care and rehabilitation start-up Maslow received the top grant of $75,000 as well as winning the $10,000 People’s Choice Award which will go towards delivering a voice-enabled rehabilitation assistant for young people living with paralysis.
The other grant recipients are:
Narelle Priestley of AIBLE, a job search app that uses artificial intelligence to match abilities, personality types, experience, skills and certifications with job requirements.
Frances Atkins of givvable, a data-driven platform that helps companies find, source and track the impact of sustainable and social spending.
Bronwyn Covill of Need a Tutor, which helps address the problem of education for people living in rural and geographically isolated areas.
Clive Vaz of PeepsRide, which provides transport service to care organisations for the elderly and those with disabilities to get outdoors more often.
“We are incredibly proud of our Optus Future Makers program and our alumni of purpose-driven innovators,” Helen Maisano, Optus’ Director for Group Sustainability, said. “Now in its fourth year, it enables valuable opportunities to support innovation and purpose-driven social entrepreneurs to ensure they can make a positive social impact with the use of technology.
“Accessing technologies and bridging digital divides is core to driving what we do at Optus; improving the lives of those across the country, especially those disadvantaged and vulnerable,” Maisano added. “We look forward to experiencing the future innovations as part of this program, as its incredible to not only have the chance to mentor but take key learnings from these outstanding talents.”
Clive Dickens, Optus’ Vice President of Television, Content and Product Development said that the panel of experts were once again inspired by the range of meaningful and purpose-driven innovations the winners presented.
“Collaboration between established organisations and start-ups is critical to harnessing technology innovation in Australia,” Dickens said. “I can speak on behalf of the entire team on the panel that it has been a privilege to be a part of this program and drive technology innovation for social good.”
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Dotted with shops, restaurants and high-rise apartments, it’s hard to imagine the centre of Port Macquarie’s CBD on the New South Wales Mid North Coast is where the first commercial sugarcane crops were grown in Australia.
President of the Port Macquarie Historical Society Clive Smith said before the plant found its home in Northern New South Wales and Queensland, European settlers believed Port Macquarie could be the perfect area for sugarcane production thanks to its relatively warm climate and easy access to a river system.
“It was recognised very early on that Port Macquarie might have a climate suitable for sugar cane,” he said.
During the first six months of settlement, around November in 1821, seven sugarcane stalks were brought to the region for a crop test.
“In the space of something like 15 or 16 months that increased to about 7,000 stalks,” Mr Smith said.
“That was enough to plant out [sugar cane] on acreage.”
In 1824, a penal settlement sugar plantation was established at Rollands Plains, about 40 kilometres west of Port Macquarie.
The site was home to Australia’s first purpose-built sugar mill and produced sugar, molasses and rum.
“The convicts were not meant to get any rum.”
The mill was predicted to produce 500 tonnes of sugar and 76,000 litres of rum in just two years.
“It didn’t quite happen, they ended up discovering the weather was a bit more capricious than they had originally thought,” Mr Smith said.
By 1831, the government farm at Rolland Plains was abandoned, as growers discovered sugar cane preferred a warmer climate like that in Northern New South Wales and Queensland.
A number of commercial private farms were established on the Mid North Coast and continued to operate well into the 1870s.
“Many private farms were around the place … the Muscio brothers had [a farm] at Sancrox where they were growing sugar cane and crushing it and producing sugar and molasses and possibly rum,” Mr Smith said.
Today, 95 per cent of Australian sugar is produced in Queensland and about 5 per cent in northern New South Wales, along 2,100 km of coastline between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, more than 80 per cent of all sugar produced in Australia is exported as bulk raw sugar, making the nation the second-largest raw sugar exporter in the world behind Brazil.
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This week we chat with Maree Beare, founder and CEO of Wanngi, a health
management platform on which people can track and manage their symptoms, injuries,
medications, allergies, immunisations and fitness progress.
ISB: Why did you give up the “safety net” of a salaried
position to launch your own start-up?
MB: As a technologist I had a burning desire to use my skills to
advocate for consumers in accessing their health information. When someone
tells me “you can’t do it” (which happened a lot), it makes me want
to do it even more. I spent a decade delivering innovation projects for large
corporations and government agencies, and whilst they paid the bills, I
constantly felt there was something lacking and that I was born to do more. When
the idea of solving problems for social change came to me, I knew that was my
calling and I went for it.
ISB: And what was the inspiration behind tackling the healthtech sector
for this start-up venture?
MB: There is a lot of noise in the healthtech sector. And whilst the
healthcare system tries to be patient-centric, there is little advocacy for
consumers. I wanted to create one platform that made people with chronic health
issues feel safe and heard. When it comes to a patient’s entire medical
history, it can be stressful to remember everything, and for doctors to gather
everything they need to know. I created Wanngi as a central place for people to
track all their symptoms, health records, medication and treatment plans, so
they can improve their diagnosis and have more effective conversations with
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise
off the ground?
MB: It’s disappointing that this is still something we have to address
in 2021, but being an ambitious woman in a male-dominated tech industry has
definitely been an ongoing challenge. As women, finding investment funding is
quite daunting. Due to a lack of knowledge about the healthtech sector amongst
Australian investors, scaling a company like Wanngi is hard locally. Adding the
fact that I’m a female certainly doesn’t help the situation. Crunchbase data highlights
this problem – female founders globally received only 2.3 per cent of the
funding available in 2020, a decrease from 2.8 per cent in 2019. It’s
frustrating that more often than not, when women entrepreneurs pitch to
investors (mostly men) questions focus on the risks rather than the
opportunities. It’s a shame because the healthtech sector is certainly a growth
ISB: Bearing in mind that there are other health management apps out
there, how do you ensure yours stands out from the crowd?
MB: We are in a world that is more connected than
ever before, with healthcare that is not connected. Consumers want to cut
through the noise for an authentic customer-first experience. Not only does Wanngi
help people track their health in one place, it also allows them to export
their entire medical history and share it with multiple doctors. As telehealth
has skyrocketed, an app like Wanngi is so relevant. It also lets users record
all immunisations – including COVID-19 vaccines – and store test results so medical
professionals have access to them as and when required.
ISB:What is your vision for the
development of the business in the next couple of years?
MB: We’re scaling our health management platforms
to provide a direct-to-consumer approach to provide efficiencies in the $47 billion
clinical trials market. Our mission is for Australia to become the hotspot for
conducting clinical trials globally, which will be achieved by enabling a fast
and efficient recruitment process for consumers to participate in clinical
trials. Pharma companies globally have been unable to conduct many clinical
trials in countries impacted by COVID. We are in a country where COVID is under
control, and yet people with chronic illness who are seeking help for their
illness are currently finding blocked pathways when searching for appropriate
ISB: And, finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d give to
women who aspire to launch their own start-up?
MB: Go for it. As women, only we know our struggle. We’ve all been there.
Surprisingly, sometimes it’s women who dissuade other women from following
their dreams, which is why it’s so important for us to be true to ourselves,
stay determined and – last but definitely not the least – girls in this
industry need to support each other.
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A second member of the Heal family is hoping to make it big in the US.
Shyla Heal, the teenage daughter of Australian basketball legend Shane Heal, is heading to the WNBA after Chicago Sky selected her with pick No. 8 in Friday’s (AEST) draft.
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Shane played in the NBA with Minnesota and San Antonio and was by Shyla’s side at The Star in Sydney on Friday morning when the announcement came through she was off to the Windy City.
She joins Opals icons Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson as the only Aussies to go top-10 in the WNBA draft and will ply her trade Stateside in the most competitive league in the world.
Shyla enjoyed a stellar 2020 season Down Under playing for the Townsville Fire, winning the Youth Player of the Year award to cement her status as one of Australia’s brightest up-and-coming basketball talents.
Her hot streak put the 19-year-old on the radar for national selection ahead of this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup, and earned her a spot in the All-WNBL Second Team.
Townsville coach Sandy Brondello said late last year: “She is going to be an Opal; it is just a matter of when.
“She has got really good skills and I think she has improved in her playmaking ability.
“Not just being a scorer, but it is also about being a creator and distributor.
“She is on the up and she is only going to get better and better.”
Heal has long been touted for big things after debuting in the WNBL at just 14 and finished last season among the league’s top five scorers, averaging 25.3 points and 7.3 assists per game.
Heal was documenting her day on social media as the WNBA Draft took place, and looked excited as she waited with her family for her name to be called out.
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One of the objectives of any digital
transformation process in business is to improve workplace productivity, and
this is where digital automation makes a big difference.
Today’s digital automation technology allows you to not only automate time-wasting, repetitive tasks, it provides a better customer and employee experience. Automation is not about replacing people with computers. It’s about changing the way we handle everyday jobs so that we can concentrate on purposeful work, resulting in optimised productivity.
Automation of workflow
for increased efficiency
Research by McKinsey Digital states 60 per cent of businesses said they could save 30 per cent of their time by automating workflow. Some of these tasks that could be automated include approving paperwork, timesheets and processing documents.
Most established small businesses have some degree of automation already in place despite workflow automation playing a significant role in digital transformation, a large percentage of small and medium businesses are still running operations with manual tasks.
For example, if you run a recruitment firm, replacing a manual recruitment process by using tools that automatically screen CVs, schedule interviews, phone calls and gather feedback, can restructure recruitment. This saves significant time, freeing up your employees to focus on more important areas.
Whatever industry you are in, introducing digital automation to your operations can have a huge effect on consistency and efficiency in business. Implementing them to repetitive, back-end processes also reduces errors.
payments can improve business
Even with numerous accounting tools readily
available, business owners spend a majority of their time manually processing
invoices, sending payments, and reconciling finances. This process is tedious
and prone to human errors.
Digital payment automation drastically reduces the cost of processing an invoice and speeds up the average payment collection time.
An example of this is the Federal Government’s initiative in 2020 to improve processing payments by implementing the internationally-recognised structure for e-Invoicing. Businesses that process their invoices online will receive payments within five days, as opposed to the 20-day payment-term through paper invoicing.
The post-COVID-19 environment is pushing more
businesses to re-think their financial structure to recover cashflow. This
calls for better financial visibility, and digitising payments is the best way
to stay on top of things.
This is an area that might seem obvious to some, but in fact, a lot of small businesses don’t focus on nurturing their mailing list due to lack of time. This is where email automation can really help you to manage that.
With automation, businesses can create a series of emails to ensure that new customers feel valued by receiving immediate responses to inquiries, purchase etc. You can set up multiple email lists in one go for different areas of your business, schedule replies, send invoices and even promote new products through automation. Best of all, unless you make major changes in your business strategy, your initial email sequence can continue running as is.
Email automation is a great tool for testing marketing promotions or new product ideas with your customers, just remember to check-in weekly/monthly to see if you need to make any amendments to these types of emails.
These are just a few examples of the way digital automation can change the way we do business. Accepting the power of automation not only gives small businesses a competitive edge but can also improve your satisfaction in day-to-day work.
A digital strategy that harnesses the power of digital automation
does not need to be a complicated project. Start small with a focus on improving
one manual process or one business function, and soon you will be reaping the
Dinesh De Silva, Founder and CEO, NetStripes
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The Australian livestock export industry has distanced itself from the New Zealand trade, which has been banned from exporting livestock by sea.
The Australian Government says it has no plans to ban livestock exports and New Zealand’s move is expected to help Australian farmers win lucrative trade deals with China, which had been spending big on dairy breeding heifers.
Chief executive of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council Mark Harvey-Sutton said the Council was sympathetic to its Kiwi colleagues and disappointed by the ban.
“We have full confidence in the standards the Australian industry upholds and expect the impacts of the New Zealand decision to have limited bearing on the strength of the Australian industry and its continuing growth,” he said.
New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the decision this morning, to phase out live exports of animals by sea.
The decision followed an inquiry into the sinking of a ship carrying 43 crew and thousands of New Zealand cattle off the coast of Japan last year.
According to the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, the live export trade was worth $200 million to Kiwi farmers last year, with 110,000 animals exported live.
The lobby group said it saw no reason for the ban.
“We’re a little bit surprised really that it’s come out now, and that they’ve decided to go down this route,” NZFF spokesman Wayne Langford told the ABC.
New Zealand had already stopped the export of livestock for slaughter in 2008, but the export of breeding cattle had been increasing, with strong demand from China.
Dairy industry analyst Emma Higgins said the decision to ban exports from New Zealand left Australian dairy producers “in the box seat” to take up the trade of dairy heifers into Asia.
“The good news for Australian exporters and dairy producers is that there’s an opportunity there for Australian farmers to fill the gap that New Zealand will leave,” Ms Higgins said.
In a statement, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said “this is a matter for the New Zealand Government and Australia has no plans to suspend or ban live animal exports”.
“The Federal Government is confident in our standards, regulations and laws to ensure high standards of animal welfare for livestock exports,” the statement read.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals used the NZ announcement to renew calls for an end to the Australian live export trade.
“New Zealand has made the right decision, and with it, is cementing its international reputation as a world leader in high quality, ethical agricultural products while Australia is left behind yet again,” RSPCA spokesman Jed Goodfellow said.
Dr Goodfellow said Australia exported more than 170,000 breeding cattle last year, primarily to China and Pakistan.
“And there are no laws to protect them once they are there,” he said.
The Opposition’s agriculture spokeswoman Julie Collins was approached for comment.
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The Retail Doctor Group has announced the six winners of the 2021 edition of its Australian Retail Innovators awards. The awards are designed to showcase retailers who are outstanding in their approach to innovation and out-of-the-box thinking across the six categories. An international panel of retail experts were invited to select the winners from a pool of finalists chosen for their contributions to the retail industry over the past year.
The winners, chosen for their exemplary service and performance, in each of the six award categories are:
Customer Experience category
Genesis Motors took out this category for their “fresh take on the car sales model, and meeting customers more than halfway in the purchase journey.”
Between The Flags for Digital Innovators category
Between the flags were lauded by the judges for “having grasped the possibilities of digital technology” with their implementation of in-store touchscreens that enable customers to pick up where they left off online, without having to restart the buying process from scratch.
Omnichannel Excellence category
Mecca were named as the omnichannel champions for bridging the gap between their online community and in-store service experience by offering video calls with their beauty experts, livestreamed tutorials and a physical selfie studio directly connected to social media platforms.
The Party People for Research & Strategic Focus category
Inside Small Business 2020 Top 50 Small Business Leader Dean Salakas added to his trophy cabinet by bagging this award category for having “successfully kept on top of rapidly changing consumer needs during a volatile year” through adapting their product range top offer a coronavirus survival category of party goods.
Good Sammy Enterprises for Social Cause category
Good Sammy Enterprises in WA won this award category for or providing opportunities for the people with a disability in the state through training and development programs, in-house jobs and advocating for opportunities in the wider community for their clients.
Inspiring retail leaders
Five people took this category out for their innovation and having “proven themselves as outstanding leaders, guiding their teams to greatness and pushing the boundaries of success”. They are:
Anthony Grice, CEO of Clark Rubber
Anthony Heraghty, CEO & MD of Super Retail Group
Feras Karem, CEO & MD of Pharmacy 4 Less
Sean Farrell, Head of Retail at Ben & Jerry’s ANZ; and
Stephanie Leathers, General Manager at Aje.
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