Business stories of interest this week

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

1. Toys R Us enters administration

TOYS ‘R’ US Australia has gone into voluntary administration months after the US and UK retail giant’s collapse.

Directors of the company resolved to appoint voluntary administrators McGrathNicol after the withdrawal of the final bidder for the sale of the Australian business, McGrathNicol said in a statement on Monday.

All Toys ‘R’ Us Australia stores will remain open and continue to trade while the administrators explore options for the sale.

The stand-alone Australian business operates 44 retail stores across Australia and employs about 700 permanent staff.


2. From Pokemon to try ’em on: augmented reality is no game for retailers

If you hoped Pokémon GO was the first and last time you came across augmented reality, think again.

Retailers are increasingly using the same technology as that video game – which sent millions of people scampering outdoors to chase virtual creatures which, when viewed through the screen of a smartphone, had been superimposed onto the urban landscape – to sell products and overcome one of the biggest problems consumers have shopping online.

New research by Paypal released on Tuesday found that about a third of small to medium Australian retailers that had an online store intended to release an augmented realty (AR) “experience” for their customers.


3. Nutrition care eyes a slice of Blackmore’s market

A Melbourne-based nutritional medicine and vitamins company which Blackmores tried to buy years ago is about to take on the big players in the retail channel with a brand known as NC, which is also being targeted at daigou buyers.

Nutrition Care Pharmaceuticals, which has operated its own nutritional pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant at Keysborough in Melbourne for decades and employs about 80 people, has the backing of Hong Kong-listed Ausnutria Dairy Corporation. Ausnutria acquired 75 per cent of Nutrition Care in August, 2016 for $26.4 million in a transaction which went under the radar during a period of much bigger transactions.


4. McDonald’s unveils flagship Sydney airport store featuring seethrough kitchen

MCDONALD’S has unveiled its fancy new Sydney Airport store, where burgers and fries are delivered to customers via conveyor belt from a glowing yellow glass box dubbed its “kitchen in the sky”.

The “Instagrammable” new restaurant features a see-through kitchen raised high above terminal one, with design firm Landini Associates briefed with creating an “iconic, memorable customer experience, like nothing seen before”.

“The McDonald’s restaurant in T1 International has become one of the most Instagrammed places at Sydney Airport,” said general manager of retail Glyn Williams. “And why wouldn’t it? It’s a piece of theatre, full of colour, movement and surprises. People have started arriving early for their flights just to see it.”


5. Starburst dropped by Coles, Woolworths

Say goodbye to your childhood.

Coles has confirmed it has made the difficult decision to remove Starburst from its shelves, joining with Woolworths which quietly axed the iconic fruit chew in December 2015.

“Unfortunately we can confirm that Starburst varieties have been removed from our national range,” a Coles spokesperson wrote in response to a panicked Starburst fan on Facebook.

“We understand how frustrating it can be to see a favourite product disappear from the shelf and we can assure you that this decision is not one made lightly.

“It’s our job to provide customers with choice and value but with limited shelf space we have to balance providing choice with making sure the most popular products customers want to buy are available every time they shop. Keeping products that are not selling on shelf makes this difficult.