Business stories of interest this week

Business stories from the past week, compiled by Jason Maywald:

1. Mountain Designs to close one in three stores

Outdoor adventure gear company Mountain Designs has made the “difficult decision” to close one in three stores in 2018.

Shops at Joondalup, Wagga Wagga, Toowong and Dubbo closed on January 7 followed by branches at Cannington, Bendigo, Toowoomba and Wollongong on January 10, according to a statement from the company.

Stores at Pacific Fair, Ashmore, Bunbury, Moorabbin and Warringah will also close, although a date is yet to be confirmed.


2. Amazon won’t kill Aussie retailers but evolution might 

Shoppers are growing so accustomed to the ease of buying online that bricks and mortar stores struggle to satisfy them anymore, Intel’s global head of retail has warned Australian traders.

Jon Stine said he visited Australia recently and thought talk that Amazon’s arrival on its shores in November would cause a “retail Armageddon” was “nonsense”.

Rather, the sector globally was entering a period of “accelerated Darwinian evolution” in which businesses could either change or perish, he told a group of Australian retail managers in New York City on Sunday, ahead of the National Retailers Federation’s annual expo.


3. It’s banking, but not as we know it 

Banking will be in the spotlight this year, and not just from next month’s Royal Commission.

Big changes for our money are on the way, say financial services specialists, as new technologies combine with market forces to reshape banking.

“People can position themselves to benefit from the changes,” said People’s Choice Credit Union spokesman Stuart Symons.

Fast payments will be one of the first moves, enabling immediate money transfers as BSBs and account numbers get replaced by email addresses and phone numbers known as PayIDs.


4. Astronomical new Iphone X pushes retail sales sky high

So big was the spending splurge on the new iPhone X that it pushed pre-Christmas retail sales to a record high in November, confounding expectations of a weak lead in to Christmas.

Market economists had forecast a lift of 0.4 per cent in November. Instead, sales shot up 1.2 per cent, the biggest jump in almost five years.


5. Ford pledges $11b investment in electronic cars by 2022

Ford Motor Co will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup, Chairman Bill Ford said on Sunday at the Detroit auto show.

The investment figure is sharply higher than a previously announced target of $4.5 billion by 2020, Ford executives said, and includes the costs of devleoping dedicated electric vehicle architectures. Ford’s engineering, research and development expenses for 2016, the last full year available, were $7.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2015.