Grant Maughan ultramarathon man 

DUDLEY’S Grant Maughan had hundreds of American’s shaking their heads and wondering ‘‘who the heck is this Aussie guy’’ this week after he finished second in the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 217 kilometre endurance race across Death Valley in California.
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Maughan, a 49-year-old professional sea captain, was second across the line in a field of 96 starters in the time of 24 hours, 53 minutes and 57 seconds.

The winner Portugal’s Carlos Alberto Gomes De Sá, 39, finished about 15 minutes earlier.

He described the feat – achieved in 46 degree heat – as the crown in his endurance career.

‘‘It was incredibly hard,’’ he said.

‘‘The first 42 miles (67 kilometres) are the hottest down below sea level in Death Valley.

‘‘If you make it through that then its a 5000 foot (1.5 kilometres) climb, then 4000 feet (1.2 kilometres) down into the next valley then another 5000 foot (1.5 kilometres) climb.

‘‘Then a long 30 mile (48 kilometres) leg to Lone Pine before the last really brutal 5000 foot (1.5 kilometres) climb to the finish.

‘‘The finish was epic with the top three spots on the the last mountain all close.

‘‘I managed to grind it out and moved into second going up then closed on the winner all the way to the end.

‘‘It was definitely the pinnacle of my endurance journey so far but the best part was everyone asking ‘‘who the heck is this Aussie guy’’.

Mr Maughan, who used this year’s Boston Marathon as a warm-up event, will head to Colorado in three weeks to attempt the Leadville Trail 100 run.

The event starts at higher than 10,000 feet (3048 metres) above sea level, finishes at 14,000 feet (4267 metres) and spans 100 miles (160 kilometres).

ENDURANCE: Grant Maughan is competing in several US ultramarathons.


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Business targeting disability dollar

Minnie Baragwanath, CEO of Be. Institute in New Zealand, and former Paralympian swimmer Chris Holmes MBE at Hunter Stadium. Attending a conference at the stadium on disability access at sporting venues and attracting the “yellow” dollar. Picture Max Mason HubersHUNTER businesses could benefit from the ‘‘yellow dollar’’ by making themselves more physically accessible and inclusive to people with a disability, a conference in Newcastle heard on Thursday.
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International disability advocates joined more than 100 delegates for the Accessible Events = Smart Business Forum at Hunter Stadium.

It came ahead of the region hosting both the International Children’s Games next year and the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games later this year.

One of the keynote speakers was Minnie Baragwanath chief executive of the Be. Institute in New Zealand.

Baragwanath, who is partially blind, said the Hunter could harness some of the $5 billion yellow tourism dollar.

‘‘People with a disability and their families travel,’’ she said.

‘‘If you’re not clearly accessible you may not lose one person’s business, you may lose three or four people because people do not travel alone.’’

She said accessibility was not just about wheelchair access.

‘‘There are people with hearing, sight, impaired mobility…who need hip replacements – they want someone to cater to their needs.’’

Ms Baragwanath said access also extended to the baby boomers who would have increased access needs as they aged.

‘‘That’s also the group that travels most often and has the most discretionary spending.

‘‘It’s a massive market opportunity.’’

The other keynote speaker was former British parlaympian swimmer Chris Holmes who was the Director of Integration for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He spoke about spreading wheelchair seats throughout stadiums so people could sit with their families, having audio commentaries and seating vision impaired people near big screens.

However he said accessibility started with training staff to create a culture of accessibility.

‘‘So it’s not just an accessible but an inclusive experience,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not just about mega-events it’s about events right down to the most local community event.’’


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Ten takes another bite at breakfast show market

Wake Up hosts, from left, Nuala Hafner, James Mathison, Natarsha Belling and Natasha Exelby. Photo: Anthony Johnson Ten’s former Breakfast hosts, from left, Magdalena Roze, Paul Henry, Andrew Rochford and Kathryn Robinson.
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Eight months after axing its failed Breakfast program, Channel Ten is having another crack at the lucrative early morning TV market – launching a rival to Sunrise and Today called Wake Up.

Hosted by journalists Natarsha Belling and Natasha Exelby, and former Australian Idol co-host James Mathison, it will be broadcast from a surf club in Manly instead of a traditional TV studio.

The program has been created by TV “wonder boy” and former Sunrise producer Adam Boland, who took that show to No. 1 and turned hosts Melissa Doyle and David Koch into household names.

Wake Up will be the only breakfast show to feature local news in every state. Nuala Hafner will be the national news presenter, based in Melbourne.

The show will begin later this year but Ten has not revealed the date.

“The show is looser than the other mobs’,” Boland said. “There’s scope for an adult conversation. When you take the straitjackets off, interesting things happen.”

Boland said Wake Up was modelled on FM radio shows and that it would rely heavily on social media and viewer interaction.

He described his final years at Channel Seven as “frustrating”, claiming that “no one was willing to take a risk” at Sunrise.

“Sunrise has an average of 14 guests [every day], who are booked the night before,” he said.

“Most of my producers will be working the early morning shift and we won’t be booking as many guests. This is Australia: chances are that some of those guests won’t be that great. We want to give [the hosts] the freedom to chat.”

Ten hopes that Wake Up – in addition to a slew of new local drama, reality, comedy and sport shows – will reverse its mid-year ratings slump, which has seen the network fall into fourth place behind the ABC.

Boland is also creating a late-morning program to be hosted by Ita Buttrose, Joe Hildebrand and others. It will also launch later this year.

Wake Up’s short-lived predecessor Breakfast, hosted by controversial New Zealander Paul Henry, was a critical and commercial flop, rarely drawing more than 50,000 viewers.

Boland said: “I think it was pretty obvious what went wrong with that show … and it was obvious to Channel Ten after 7 o’clock on the first morning.”

In addition to announcing Wake Up, Ten revealed that former Australian Idol co-host Osher Gunsberg – previously known as Andrew G – will host its local version of reality program The Bachelor, to debut later this year.

Steven Bradbury and Alisa Camplin have joined its Winter Olympics commentary team, and former batsman Sir Viv Richards will host the Big Bash League cricket with Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh and Damien Fleming.

Wake Up is being launched as the established breakfast shows enter their toughest battle in years, with Today now threatening the once-unbeatable Sunrise.

Fewer than 10,000 viewers separate the two rivals, with Sunrise still in front.

It’s a far cry from 2006, when Sunrise was ahead by more than 200,000 viewers. Two years later, its lead halved to 100,000 and it has steadily declined ever since.

While Sunrise retains the national ratings crown, its win comes from its dominance in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. In Sydney and Melbourne, Today is the top-rating breakfast show.

Sunrise co-host Melissa Doyle will be replaced by Samantha Armytage around September, with Doyle to move on to other roles. Some in the industry view this as an attempt to “rejuvenate” Sunrise before the launch of Wake Up.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.


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Woolworths fails to master nuts and bolts

Company Accounts 2012.
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Woolworths has confessed to struggling with basic operational issues with its incursion into the $42 billion hardware sector – from a blowout in wages and selling unwanted stock to what store managers should do with the keys at the end of each day.

The chief of the loss-making Masters chain, Melinda Smith, said not even the experience and reach of its US joint-venture partner Lowe’s had prevented it from making early mistakes – with the fact that Christmas in Australia fell in summer, and not winter as in America, just another headache it had to contend with.

”With a new business as a start-up, a lot of these things, including the stock that you need to order, including every single process that we write … including what does the store manager do with the keys at the end of the day … It’s all built from scratch, and so there’s a lot that you don’t know,” said Ms Smith.

”We didn’t know a lot about the seasonal curve. We’ve got a great joint venture partner in America but when it’s Christmas time over there it’s also winter.

”Our Christmas time lines up with spring and Father’s Day so it’s quite a different seasonal curve and there’s no doubt there’s a heap of opportunities to better capitalise on that.” Ms Smith and Woolworths finance director Tom Pockett were forced to lay out all the challenges besetting Masters to analysts on Thursday, admitting actual losses would be more than expected when the chain was launched two years ago. Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien did not attend the investor update, where the market was advised that hardware losses would rise to $139 million from a forecast $81 million for 2012-13. Mr O’Brien is thought to be travelling overseas for work. Masters is now expected to record a pre-tax loss of $157 million for the last financial year against an original target of $119 million.

The business ran foul of optimistic sales projections for its stores that were up and trading as it went into fiscal 2013, while relatively higher wage costs for new store openings and lower margins had dragged Masters further away from its earnings targets.

Danks, Woolworths’ wholesale hardware business, has also suffered from similar factors and would see its 2012-13 pre-tax profit more than halve to $18 million.

The profit warning for Masters overshadowed an actual improved guidance for the Woolworths group, with profits now forecast to grow in the range of 5 per cent to 6 per cent, from previous guidance of 4 per cent to 6 per cent. Its sale last year of Dick Smith would realise total proceeds of $94 million and allow it to book a profit on the deal of $7.9 million.

Shares in Woolworths fell 1.1 per cent to $33.32.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.


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New CSL chief keeps the faith

Paul Perreault, the new boss of pharmaceutical giant CSL, has a message for those who believe the $31 billion company is overvalued or should start buying businesses: it’s not and it probably won’t.
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Mr Perreault said CSL had looked at 200 buying opportunities last year but was wary of ”lemons”. It made two big acquisitions under previous boss Brian McNamee’s leadership.

”The investment community always get excited when they see something like that [an acquisition] and then the next year they get disappointed because it’s hard to grow on top of it,” Mr Perreault told BusinessDay.

”So the organic growth story for CSL is still very strong and that will be supplemented by the future products in our portfolio.”

He added CSL’s share buybacks had been ”very successful” but another was a matter for the board.

Mr Perreault, an American who this month took over the top job, said Australia was an expensive country that had coped well during the financial crisis but faced challenges if the mining sector slowed.

”You’ve survived a financial crisis quite well. Mining, banking have been stellar sides of the business.

”Manufacturing has been a bit of a tough go. Retail has been up and down. Housing has been too high, probably, maybe a bit of a bubble that needs to be watched.

”I’ve seen it in other countries, including the US, where things get out of whack from a real estate perspective.”

He added that there were differences between the US and Australian housing markets.

”My impression is that people are still out spending [in Australia]; the restaurants are still full … coffee shops seem to be going well,” he said.

”It’ll be interesting to see how the mining goes, because that’ll be a big swing. The banks are still doing pretty well.”

CSL, the one-time government-owned vaccines group, is one of Australia’s top 10 companies.

And the recent departure Dr McNamee has not stopped its shares reaching new record highs.

But the share price surge, from about $40 a year ago to $64.46, has led analysts to call the company overvalued and question its growth.

CIMB director, healthcare, Derek Jellinek said Mr Perreault had ”his work cut out for him” and that Dr McNamee had exited at a great time.

But Mr Perreault said: ”I think we’re great value. We add value.

”My goal is to have a sustainable, growing business that services the patient.”

Formerly the head of the company’s chief money-spinning business CSL Behring, Mr Perreault said there were opportunities in haemophilia and developed markets. CSL would also invest more in sales and marketing and research and development.

Retail shareholders comprise about one-third of CSL’s share register and Australia is home to about 1800 of its 11,000-strong workforce, but 89 per cent of CSL’s sales in the 2012 financial year came from operations outside of Australia.

Despite a bruising conflict with unions last year, Mr Perreault said CSL planned to boost local jobs.

”We love it here in Australia, we’re not looking to exit … we want to do more, we want to hire more people but we also need to have the right balance of productivity along with the employment that we offer for people,” he said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.


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