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  • 15 Sep 2020 2:09 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    On 1 September Restaurant Brands New Zealand Limited (NZX: RBD) announced that it had received consent from KFC and Taco Bell for the purchase of 58 KFC stores and 11 multibrand KFC and Taco Bell stores, together with a head office facility in Southern California, USA from an existing franchisee.
     
    RBD is pleased to announce the settlement of this acquisition was completed overnight.

    Despite significant disruption to trading due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the acquired business has maintained a 12 month trailing turnover of $US95 million and store EBITDA (pre-G&A) of in excess of $US12 million.

    Russel Creedy, RBD Group CEO said, “The resilience of the Restaurant Brands business during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the benefits of investing in trusted brands and maintaining geographically diverse operations.  We are pleased with the strong trading performance of the acquired stores during the COVID-19 pandemic in California and are excited about the future prospects in the US market.”

  • 03 Sep 2020 7:52 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Premier visual effects company, known for The Lord of the Rings and Avatar, goes all-in on AWS to accelerate innovation and content production, while enabling artists globally to create and render visual effects.Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced that Weta Digital is going all-in on AWS, leveraging the proven performance of the world’s leading cloud to create a new, cloud-based visual effects (VFX) workflow. This workflow includes a set of technologies for VFX artists that will underpin the studio’s global expansion, accelerate key portions of film production, and expand Weta Digital’s New Zealand operations, enabling its team of artists to collaborate on visual effects remotely. In the past 25 years, Weta Digital has brought to life some of the most memorable worlds and characters in film, including Middle-earth and Gollum in New Line’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Na’vi and beautiful landscapes of Pandora in Avatar. Over the course of this multi-year deal, the studio will migrate the vast majority of its IT infrastructure to AWS to support a pipeline that includes 100 proprietary tools and its LED-stage virtual production service, which creates immersive new worlds onset. In addition, Weta Digital will use AWS to produce and render original content from the newly announced ‘Weta Animated’ and deliver on its multi-year movie slate.

    Visual effects artists use a wide range of animation and compositing software to integrate computer-generated imagery with live action footage, creating scenes that go beyond what can easily be captured with film alone. This imagery generates a massive volume of video and image files that can put a strain on IT resources and requires delicate load balancing efforts to keep production facilities operating at peak capacity. Leveraging AWS’s global infrastructure and AWS services, including compute, storage, security, machine learning (ML) and analytics, Weta Digital can spread its workloads more efficiently around the world, freeing up talent and resources to continue to create ground-breaking visual effects, and gain the flexibility to render VFX scenes remotely wherever its creative staff is based. With Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Weta Digital will have expanded access to a broad range of specialized Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) instances for better integration of ML into the VFX creation process, enabling artists to create more life-like, detailed movie creations.

    “Weta Digital has been an innovator in the visual effects industry for decades. By adopting AWS’s ultra-scale infrastructure, we can implement a proprietary cloud pipeline and globally scale our production to greater levels than ever before,” said Prem Akkaraju, CEO of Weta Digital. “Weta established a remote collaborative workflow in March due to the pandemic to seamlessly continue work on the Avatar sequels and other films. With the power of AWS, we can now take that success to a global scale. Drawing on AWS’s virtually unlimited compute capacity, we can empower our artists to work safely and securely where they want without technical limitations. In addition, using the breadth and depth of AWS services we can more easily test new ideas and technologies as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in visual effects today. AWS services, such as machine learning and data analytics, will help Weta deliver projects faster and more cost effectively, and our customers will enjoy the fruits of Weta Digital’s continuous innovation.”

    “Weta Digital has earned fans around the world through its innovative approach of combining technology and creativity to push the boundaries of visual effects in the movie industry while bringing some of cinema’s most memorable characters to life,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS. “Weta Digital will rely on AWS’s unmatched portfolio of services to continue redefining what is possible on screen and at a scale that was not previously possible. Through its collaboration with AWS, Weta Digital is reducing technology barriers for those in the filmmaking industry, strengthening its operations in New Zealand and globally, and paving the way for immersive, new experiences for moviegoers.”

    Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news


  • 30 Aug 2020 11:08 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    International retail brands Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are gearing up to open their first New Zealand stores next week once Auckland has moved to alert level 2.

    The American clothing and underwear retailers have each taken up a tenancy at Auckland's Commercial Bay shopping precinct and expect to open their doors for the first time on Monday, August 31 after facing months of delays because of Covid-19.

    Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, owned and operated by NYSE-listed PVH Corporation, has had its eye on a launch in the New Zealand market since 2017.

    The retail company will invest about $2 million and create 44 jobs this side of Christmas to expand into the country.

    Craig Barnett, chief executive of PVH Brands Australia, said plans to launch in New Zealand were briefly put on the back burner as it focused on meeting a surge in demand in Australia, where the group operates 30 Tommy Hilfiger and 38 Calvin Klein stores.

    Barnett said Commercial Bay owner Precinct Properties reached out to PVH Brands to offer its brands tenancies in the billion-dollar development in 2018.

    PVH took over Tommy Hilfiger in Australia in 2015 and Calvin Klein has been trading in the market since 2002. Barnett said both brands were "going nuts" across the Tasman, resonating with the millennial consumer, and expected them to be received here similarly.

    "Even during Covid, our e-commerce has gone nuts. The stores that are open are trading well up on last year," Barnett told the Herald.

    "We hope these initial stores in Auckland are going to be so successful that we want to do more. We think there is a lot more potential."

    New Zealand's population size could service "at least" two stores of each brand, he said, but was coy about any plans underway or locations for future stores.

    The company's online businesses were growing at a significant rate, partly because of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it would launch local domain websites for both brands by November, Barnett said.

    "We're reading what the consumer wants, at the moment; they certainly like the physical showroom of a flagship ... but they probably don't need as many of them as they used to.

    "We're a little bit more guarded than we were six months ago in terms of the mix of physical stores and online. We're seeing such strong growth online - it's clearly what the consumer wants and we've got to take that into our decision making."

    PVH has a stock warehousing facility in Auckland, which it will eventually use to fulfil online orders. In the first instance, orders will be fulfilled from Sydney.

    The company operates a wholesale business in New Zealand through Smith & Caughey's and David Jones. Barnett said it would take some time for the two new stores to overtake that business as the breadwinner.

    The opening of the two stores would create 44 jobs this side of Christmas, he said.

    Barnett said PVH Brands had no worries or concerns about opening the Commercial Bay stores despite the borders being closed to cruise ships visitors and international tourists.

    When we saw the whole cruise thing shut down we didn't flinch; it doesn't make a big difference to our model or our concerns.

    "We actually don't really on tourism that much - it's not a big part of our demographic. We typically have a younger demographic than those cruise ships are filled with - the core demographic is 18 to 25."

    Barnett was unable to share any sales or visitor number forecasts for both stores before the company's half-yearly earnings result.

    Global retail sales of products sold under the Tommy Hilfiger brand were about US$9.2 billion ($13.8b) and US$9.4b ($14.1b) under the Calvin Klein brand in 2019.

    Van Hessen chain to set up shop

    Other brands in the PVH portfolio include Pierre Cardin, Nancy Ganz and men's suits and business wear brand Van Heusen, which is evolving to become more of a casual offering

    Van Heusen has a retail network of 16 stores in Australia and Barnett said PVH was looking into way it could expand that into New Zealand.

    He said the company would wait for Covid to be behind it before it looked to invest in physical stores, but it was "already on the lookout for retail opportunities" in the market.

    It was looking for high street and traditional shopping centre store locations, he said.

    Barnett said the company was not concerned about the impact Covid might have on its business under various restrictions in the New Zealand market.

    "We've set up our retail presence in New Zealand for the long term. What happens in the next six months isn't material to our long-term ambitions for retailing," he said.

    "Kiwis love fashion and big international brands, all evidence is that they are going to embrace our brands, and the four seasons New Zealand has really appeals to us for fashion [collections] and we think we're going to do well."

    The Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein stores were originally planned to open alongside the official opening of Commercial Bay in March before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the centre's opening was once again delayed and opened in June.

    The stores were unable to open in June because of a series of Covid-related delays including part of its store fit-out stuck in China.

    Retail analyst Chris Wilkinson said the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein stores at Commercial Bay would draw people into the centre after the initial fanfare it received when it opened in June.

    The presence of the well-known international brands, along with other big names in the centre, and when the transport works were complete, would replicate a similar world-class offering to that found in the likes of London and Sydney, he said.

    "The success of retail going forward is to be able to develop strong clusters where you have a lot of complementary offers within a smaller area, where consumers can have confidence going there to find a range of products and experiences."

    Wilkinson said he expected both brands would be successful in the New Zealand market.


    Source: NZ Herald. By: Aimee Shaw
  • 19 Aug 2020 4:28 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Portainer.io is preparing to launch version 2.0 to support Kubernetes as well as Docker containers

    After securing half a million active users already, New Zealand tech startup Portainer.io has closed a US$1.2 million international seed financing round.

    The round is backed by US-based Bessemer Venture Partners and Australia's Black Nova Group, as well as top New Zealand investors including Sir Stephen Tindall's K1W1, AmpliPHI Ventures and a number of experienced senior business figures.

    Portainer launched in 2017 as an open source product to simplify the deployment and management of
    Docker Swarm container-based environments.

    To date, the technology has been downloaded more than two billion times and is actively used by approximately 500,000 users per month.

    Portainer, which its founders say is enjoying 50 per cent year-on-year growth, is also poised to launch version 2.0 including an open source product and commercial business edition for Docker Swarm, the fast-growing Kubernetes platform and Edge computing.

    Portainer CEO and co-founder Neil Cresswell said Portainer was developed to bring "expert simplicity" to the
    complex technologies in use by everyday IT teams.

    “Extending Portainer to manage Kubernetes will enable organisations of any size to take advantage of the rich
    functionality without having to learn Kubernetes itself,” he said. 

    “It quite literally makes an incredibly complex environment available to the average IT team, unleashing an immense advantage to teams using Portainer to deploy into Kubernetes or troubleshoot issues across its environments.”

    The seed round enables Portainer to accelerate growth of its open source version in the Kubernetes market,
    as well as bringing a fully supported business edition to market.

    Funding will be allocated to additional software engineering resources around the world, growing the Kubernetes community uptake and building traction for the commercial product.

    Bessemer partner Michael Droesch said the firm had been watching the explosive growth of Portainer for some time.  

    “We have been encouraged by what the team has achieved with their open source product and the engagement they have generated within the Portainer community," he said.

    "We believe Portainer can help bring ‘expert simplicity’ to leading cloud-native technologies like Docker and Kubernetes."

    Black Nova Group managing partner Matt Browne said Portainer’s development of a container management platform was helping software engineers and developers navigate through a rapidly growing market gap, as B2B SaaS increased in ever-changing market conditions.

    Portainer.io co-founders Cresswell, Derek Leitch and Geoff Olliff have been long-standing partners across a range of New Zealand tech businesses, most prominently ViFX and Service Dynamics.

    Source: Rob O'Neill (New Zealand Reseller News)https://www.reseller.co.nz/

     
  • 14 Aug 2020 11:20 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Sky Television has offloaded its outside broadcasting subsidiary OSB which films its live sports broadcasts to US-owned company NEP.

    Chief executive Martin Stewart said the deal which had been tipped since November would ensure Sky continued to deliver high-quality sport productions.

    Sky bought OSB from Australia's Prime Media Group in 2010 for $35 million.

    It owns the specialist trucks and equipment that can frequently be seen outside sports venues when events are on.

    NEP entered New Zealand in 2018 by taking over Auckland company NZ Live.

    Sky's ability to produce its own sports programmes from events in New Zealand had been assumed to be one of its key competitive advantages as it faced growing competition for sports rights from rivals including Spark.

    But NEP's entry into the New Zealand market in 2018 eroded that advantage.

    Sky said NEP would acquire OSB’s assets including its six broadcasting trucks and two warehouses and the 38 OSB staff would move across to NEP New Zealand.

    Sky would retain its “world-class sports production team” who would work closely with NEP New Zealand, it said.

    Stewart said the sale would let Sky reduce future capital investment in “multi-million dollar” outside broadcasting equipment and instead leverage NEP’s “global network of technology developments”.

    About $50m of capital expenditure would be avoided over five years, Sky said.

    Sky said it had “robust plans in place” to continue to deliver services to customers during level 3.

    The majority of staff would be able to immediately work from home with “essential crew” operating from Sky’s offices, it said.

    Sky said in a separate statement to the NZX that its revenues and profit for the year to June would be in line with the guidance it gave investors on May 21, subject to the completion of its year-end audit and an assessment of the carrying value of goodwill.

    By Tom Pullar-Strecker, www.stuff.co.nz

  • 08 Aug 2020 1:19 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The University of Auckland has formalised a longstanding strategic partnership with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa to strengthen ties across the Pacific.

    This month, the University of Auckland formalised a strategic partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa centred on our close ties through the APRU network and APAIE, our long-standing student exchange and academic cooperation, and our strong research cooperation.

    The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is a research university of international standing with a heritage, people and location that create close links to the Asia Pacific region. Committed to being the leading indigenous serving university in the United States, UH Mānoa delivers a multicultural global experience, with a long history of adherence to the principles of sustainability and the essence of aloha.

    The University of Hawai’i partnership with the University of Auckland is being led by our Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries, and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences with an early focus on language study, indigenous studies, urban and regional planning, and indigenous health.

    Initial discussions have identified opportunities to leverage long-standing faculty and research connections and to expand our student mobility programmes. As a network partner through APRU our academic and professional staff members may apply to International Central Networks and Partnerships Grant (ICNPG) for mobility support.

    For more information on this strategic partnership please visit the University Strategic partnerships page or contact Gabrielle Edwards in the International Office.

    www.auckland.ac.nz

  • 07 Aug 2020 10:32 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    An Auckland company which makes filters based on wool has been selected by US space agency Nasa to supply its next mission to the Moon and Mars.

    Lanaco makes respiratory filters and devices using wool from specially selected sheep flocks in Central Otago.

    The company’s Helix filters, which are used by a number of local washable mask manufacturers, are also used in industry, ventilation and appliances.

    And now the filters will be used to go into space, chief executive Marc Michel said.

    '’We’ve been working on it for a number of years but the first product went off to the contractor two weeks ago,’' he said.

    The filters will be used in the emergency fire protection equipment that crew will wear inside Nasa’s Orion capsule.

    Commercially, the deal was not very significant but it was ‘’massive validation’’ for Lanaco's science, Michel said.

    Lanaco was founded to help lift the value of wool, and over the last decade, it has been genetically breeding its wool for ‘’bulk filtration media’’ which it supplies to clients like 3M.

    It was also supplying material to Chinese mask makers but the Australian bushfires and Covid-19 related supply chain disruptions in March prompted the company to start making its own face masks.

    As the lockdown approached, there was also an upsurge in interest from Kiwi companies wanting to make washable masks, so Lanaco shared with them a mask design from Hong Kong and produced the filters for it.

    ‘’We probably supplied 400,000 filters since March, and it means we’ve preserved 400,000 medical masks for frontline health workers. And it created employment and some other positive spin-offs,’’ Michel said.

    The company is about to launch its own medical grade face masks, which passed international certification last month.

    Founder Nick Davenport said wool was excellent at capturing germs and had capabilities synthetics could not match.

    ‘’Wool is the world’s most positively-charged natural fibre, which translates to an electrostatic filter which acts as a magnet to capture a whole range of particles in the air.

    ‘’It’s naturally bacteria-static, so germs don’t remain on it and it naturally absorbs toxins.”

    The company had been ‘’beseiged’’ with orders and it was scaling up to supply the new mask to hospitals and hardware stores here and abroad, Michel said.

    Chairman Andy West said there was a lot of innovation and technology being developed in primary industry at present.

    “We are definitely going to contribute to the Government’s ambition to increase the value of primary sector exports by $10 billion per annum in the next 10 years through productivity growth.'’

    By Catherine Harris, Stuff




  • 06 Aug 2020 1:28 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    When Bradley, Carl and I founded TradeGecko in 2012 we had a vision to enable entrepreneurs to build the business of their dreams.

    We have built a profitable business serving thousands of omnichannel commerce customers in over 100 countries processing over 5 billion USD in GMV. In 2020, our customers around the globe have seen their businesses transform as the world moves online.

    Today I am excited to announce the next stage of our journey. TradeGecko is joining Intuit, a trusted partner to over 7 million small businesses around the globe.

    From our very first conversations with Intuit’s leadership it was clear that we not only had highly complementary values and culture, but that we shared a common purpose: To help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed.

    We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accelerate our long-term mission of building the commerce platform to power millions of SMBs globally. Integrating TradeGecko’s robust inventory and order management system with QuickBooks’ suite of financial, payment, reporting and accounting tools will help product sellers run and grow their business, all in one powerful platform.

    Bradley and I are excited about the future - all of this has been made possible with the support of our amazing customers and our incredible team of Geckos.

    Partnering with Quickbooks is going to be an amazing opportunity to build the platform to power millions of SMBs.

    Cameron Priest,
    co-founder and CEO

    The NZ Herald quotes the deal is worth more than $100m.
  • 04 Aug 2020 3:33 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    We do a lot of work in Silicon Valley,” Company-X co-founder and director David Hallett said. “What’s the difference between New Zealand and Silicon Valley? It’s just the scale. You add extra zeros to numbers.”

    One client asked Company-X to build a system that enabled billion-dollar decisions.

    “One of our Silicon Valley clients initiated a process where they evaluated all of the teams that do work within that organisation,” said Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes.

    “We had a couple of teams in there, and our team came out on top. We were kind of blown away that we were in that position, but we have got a lot of skill available and a pretty fantastic attitude.

    "This particular client has a metric around the best developers across their whole organisation and our guys have been up on that leader board a number of times."

    Hallett said New Zealand consistently punched above its weight in software development capability.

    This capability was recognised by a Silicon Valley-based consultant in the USA who joined a Company-X team for nearly two years.

    “She said she didn’t want to leave our team,” Hallett said. “She wanted to stick around because we were the highest performing team she had ever encountered globally, and that’s from us here in New Zealand working remotely.”

    “When she left,” Hughes added, “she said that our team was the most capable team she had ever worked with. So I really enjoy that quote. Rather than us claiming, someone else is telling us.”

    Such feedback is the result of Company-X culture and team capability.

    “Our client’s regularly praise us for the professionalism of our team, in terms of the interaction of our teams across all responsibilities and skills, in terms of the way we do the work, but quantitatively they are also praising us on the quality of the work,” Hallett said.

    “It’s great to hear our work being acknowledged as really good quality. The user experience is fantastic, the level of maintenance required is very low because it’s generating such high quality. It’s around methodologies as well, the way in which you do the work. We’re being praised for the Agile way we engage, they really love the communication and camaraderie and the professionalism that comes with those kinds of engagements.

    “It’s about both being professional and delivering a really good service and they praise us on those two aspects. It's neat. You feel like we do what we say we’re doing.”

    https://companyx.com/

  • 01 Aug 2020 12:04 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand businesses are not letting a global pandemic get in the way of opportunity.

    Wellington-based Antipodes Nature launched in the United States and Canada this month, despite ongoing concerns about Covid-19.

    In June, peanut butter company Fix & Fogg opened its first shop outside of New Zealand in Texas, United States.

    According to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand exporters sold $10.5 billion of goods and services to the North America last year.

    Antipodes founder Elizabeth Barbalich was in New York negotiating distribution for her skincare product range when the US began to lock down due to the spread of Covid-19 in February.

    While the global situation was uncertain, Barbalich decided to forge ahead with the US and Canadian launch.

    The US market had previous untapped potential for Antipodes, despite the uncertain economic environment, she said.

    During the lockdown, Antipodes’ 50 staff continued to work to prepare for the launch.

    Packaging had to be changed to meet US regulations, she said.

    Making the decision to push forward during the Covid-19 crisis was not straightforward. Stores that would otherwise stock Antipodes products and uncertain supply lines were closed.

    “It has been kind of exciting for us. I mean, we have been through the 2008 global financial crisis. We have seen the market go from hero to zero in a day. We have also seen the China market have massive swings. So, for us, this crisis is another market swing.”

    The company was working with a distributor in the US that had close ties to Amazon and was set up to ship directly to customers as well as get products on the shelves in stores, Barbalich said.

    Antipodes’ annual revenue target for this year was $100 million, with 85 per cent of sales coming from the company’s international markets, she said.

    Barbalich expected the North American market to grow to 10 per cent of the company’s annual turnover.

    Antipodes is now sold in New Zealand, Australia, in China through websites like Alibaba, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and in Sephora across the rest of Europe.

    Global expansion has not been all smooth sailing, says Barbalich.

    It took Antipodes Nature three attempts to find the right distributor in Australia, she said.

    “If we get a partner that has the same thinking, that’s 50 per cent of the problems solved. Otherwise, we have this push-pull situation where we are trying to push a distributor, and they are not moving at the same pace as us and it just makes it a lot harder.”

    Leigh Paulden, managing director at business advisory firm Scalable Sustainable Business Growth, said the US and Canada were still attractive markets for Kiwi businesses, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

    North America offered a huge pool of potential customers, he said.

    The US population was 331 million and the population of Canada 37 million.

    But on the flipside, the sheer volume of product required to meet demand dwarfed anything New Zealand companies could imagine, he said.

    Paulden encouraged his clients to limit what they offered when they launched.

    “Your volumes are so big compared to New Zealand’s market, which is tiny in comparison. So you have to really narrow down what you enter the market with,” he said.

    None of his clients had entered North America with their entire product range, and some focused on one state.

    One client recently launched just in California, he said.

    While they could technically try and launch in all 50 states, the company would struggle to manufacture enough product to keep up with demand, he said.

    Covid-19 had not changed the need to consider who a business’s ideal customer was and how it would distribute their product around the country, he said.

    By Debrin Foxcroft, Business Reporter, Stuff

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