BRIEFS

MIGRANTS

MIGRANTS

Brits, Irish pour in

Rising unemployment in Europe has seen an influx of Irish and British skilled working migrants to Australia in recent months. But skilled migration from Greece, where unemployment topped 20 per cent in November, remains low as Australian recruiters target already strong labour streams from Britain. The Perth offices of a large global recruiter reports a surge in Irish and British citizens on temporary visas seeking employer sponsorship although the east coast only reported a conservative rise. The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry has forecast the boom state would need 500,000 additional workers by 2020.

RETAIL

DJs targets online

Department store chain David Jones hopes to make about 10 per cent of its sales online as it tries to lure new customers and avoid closing stores. Chief executive Paul Zahra would not reveal details of the company's new online strategy until next month, but said he was not concerned about the prospect of overseas-based online players entering the Australian market. Mr Zahra drew comparisons between DJ and upmarket US department store chain Nordstrom which was making about $1 billion in online sales each year. "They've been operating an online business for just over a decade and they're doing about 10 per cent of sales." Mr Zahra said.

UTILITIES

Outlook improves

Takeover target Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund has narrowed its full year net loss and says the outlook is favourable. The company reported a net loss for the 2011 calendar year of $29.9 million, from a net loss of $37 million for 2010. Chief executive Colin Atkin said the completion of the South West Queensland Pipeline expansion project on time and under budget ensured the company was positioned to benefit from an expected increase in domestic gas demand. Mr Atkin said, it was clear that a hostile $1.8 billion takeover by rival APA Group undervalued the target and did not recognised the value of its strategically positioned pipelines.

MINING

NRW buoyant

Civil and mining contractor NRW Holdings has booked a record interim profit on the back of strong work in iron ore and coal, and says it expects to achieve a 75 per cent surge in full year revenue. The company announced a net profit of $45.3 million for the half year ending December 31, up 123 per cent. A 72 per cent rise in revenue to $610 million was mainly attributed to the ramp up of its five-year Middlemount Coal mining contract in Queensland and work on Fortescue Metals' Solomon iron ore project in Western Australia. NRW said it was well placed to achieve a 75 per cent jump in full year revenue to about $1.3 billion.

METALS

Golden future

South America-focused gold and silver producer Troy Resources has posted a jump in first half net profit after a production ramp up at its new Casposo operation in Argentina and strong performance at its Andorinhas mine in Brazil. Troy unveiled a 76 per cent surge in net profit for the six months to December 31 to $10.7 million. Gold production amounted to 57,327 ounces, while silver production totalled 415,087 ounces. Commercial production commenced at Casposo in March and the ramp up was hindered by extremely cold weather during the September quarter. Troy said it was on track to deliver annual production of more than 100,000 ounces.

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