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  • JB Hi-Fi hits back over pay dispute

    JB Hi-Fi says the Unite union shouldn’t be targeting the company in New Zealand with strike action because it pays more highly than other local retailers. In a statement last week, the union said it had been negotiating with JB Hifi management for more than six months for a wage rise for member workers under a collective agreement. The statement said JB Hi-Fi workers are paid $13.50 per hour in New Zealand, saying Australian staff are paid nearly twice as much. It says the workers haven’t had a pay rise in nearly two years. Unite organiser Omar Hamed said it was negotiating on behalf of 100 JB Hifi workers nationwide. JB Hi-Fi’s Australian-based CEO Richard Uechtritz says comparisons between rates of pay in the two countries aren’t warranted because of differences in factors including taxes and costs of living. Uechtritz says JB Hi-Fi’s rate of pay is above the $12.75 minimum wage rate paid by some other retailers in New Zealand, saying this is the rate given by The Warehouse, Harvey Norman, Number One Shoes and Noel Leeming. “There’s something wrong in targeting JB Hi-Fi,” he says. “If they want to get their members a pay rise it would be easier to use our payment as a good example and get people up to $13.50. Why pick on one of the top paying retailers?” JB Hi-fi always pays “above what it should pay” to obtain the best staff, he says. Unite said the approximately 100 member workers planned further pickets after disrupting operations at the chain’s Wellington store last Friday. These plans included rallies outside flagship stores. Referring to the industrial action, Uechtritz says JB Hi-Fi “won’t be caving in to demands like that”. “If any staff wanted to work for other [retailers] in New Zealand, they’d be going backwards.” 100 staff represents a small proportion of the company’s workforce in New Zealand, says Uechtritz.

  • JB Hifi CEO posts record profit, then quits

    JB Hi-Fi CEO, Richard Uechtritz, is stepping down after announcing his company’s half-year profit jump of 29 per cent to $76 million. The result was achieved despite a tougher Christmas sales period. Uechtritz leaves the retailer in top form after 10 years at the helm, having led it through years of steady growth in profit and market share against stiff competition and the recent Global Financial Crisis. He is being replaced by COO, Terry Smart, but will return as a non-executive director by July or August. According to the JB Hi-Fi’s results, revenue rose by 23.16 per cent to $1.55 billion in the half-year ending December 31, 2009. Comparable store sales also grew strongly despite missing last year’s Government stimulus spending. “We are once again extremely pleased with this strong result, particularly the comparable store sales growth of 6.5 per cent in December,” Uechtritz said. “JB has proven very resilient throughout the economic downturn, which led to low consumer confidence and spend. “We opened new stores, expanded our offering and reduced our prices on the back of increased economies of scale and [had] a continued focus on cost.” Analyst predictions of a slowdown in Christmas sales were recently borne out by December sales figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics , which showed a drop by 0.7 per cent. Despite continuing doubts from both retail analysts and global markets, the retailer said it was on track to deliver its promise of a 20 per cent full-year revenue increase to $2.8bn. It also expects profits to rise 24-27 per cent to $117m-$120m.