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Lord Tyrie says consumers must be put at heart of competition law regime

first_img James Booth “Giving the regulator stronger powers and a duty to put consumers first will help tackle the imbalance of a system that has for too long worked in favour of powerful businesses rather than consumers.“The government must now ensure that these proposals are swiftly implemented so that consumers are given the protection they need against harmful business practices.” whatsapp Share Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which, said: “We strongly support these proposals to establish a much more effective consumer enforcement system and competition regime. Read more: Watchdog may block Sainsbury’s-Asda mergerHe said this was “taking place against the backdrop of an erosion of trust” in authority which he said the reforms could play a part in rectifying.Tyrie, who was appointed to chair the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, said he was asked by business secretary Greg Clark in August to advise on “legislative and institutional reforms to safeguard the interests of consumers and to maintain and improve public confidence in markets.”One of the key proposals put forward is a new duty for the CMA to make the economic interests of consumers and their protection from detriment “paramount”.The duty would apply to the courts as well which would be required to act to put the consumer first. Lord Tyrie says consumers must be put at heart of competition law regime center_img Monday 25 February 2019 1:50 pm Tags: Asda The chair of the competition regulator Lord Tyrie today said consumers would be put at the heart of a new competition law regime to help fix the “erosion of trust” between the public and the authorities.Speaking in London at the launch of a set of proposed reforms, Tyrie said there is a “growing sense that consumers, particularly vulnerable consumers… are being poorly served by those charged with making the economy competitive.” The proposals will be consulted on over the next few months and would need primary legislation to come into force.Consumer groups welcomed the proposed reforms with James Plunkett, executive director of Citizens Advice, tweeting: whatsapp Read more: Competition regulator set to launch reforms to beef up consumer protectionTyrie also proposed a statutory requirement for the CMA to “conduct its investigations swiftly, while respecting parties’ right of defence”.He also asked for new tools and powers for the CMA including the power to impose interim measures on parties and the power to levy fines if its requests or orders are flouted.Others powers asked for include being able to seek the disqualification of company directors for breaches of consumer law and civil fines for individuals who make serious competition law breaches.The CMA also asked for the power to levy turnover-based fines on companies that refuse to supply it with information or that supply false or misleading information.last_img read more

Alcohol board approves ban on distilleries serving cocktails

first_imgJuneau | Southeast | State GovernmentAlcohol board approves ban on distilleries serving cocktailsJanuary 24, 2018 by Associated Press Share:A matcha libre cocktail served at Amalga Distillery in July 2017.(Photo courtesy Scott Ciambor)JUNEAU — The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board upended the state’s distilleries by approving new regulations that forbid them from serving mixed drinks.The board’s decision came Tuesday at the end of a daylong meeting, the Juneau Empire reported.The state’s nine licensed distilleries have previously testified that mixed drinks served in approved tasting rooms are key parts of their individual business plans. But under the new rules, licensed distilleries may provide mixers, and they may sell alcohol distilled on site, but it will be up to the customer to mix them into a single drink.“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Brandon Howard, a co-founder of Juneau’s Amalga Distillery. “Here’s your 1.5 ounces of gin, and here’s your cup of tonic. If I dump the gin into the tonic, I’m breaking the law.”The alcohol board received more than 540 letters from Alaska residents during a month-long public comment period on the issue.Erika McConnell, director of the state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said “probably into 80 percent or 90 percent of the comments” were in favor of keeping the existing interpretation and allowing distilleries to serve mixed drinks.But despite public support, members of the board felt constrained by an ambiguous state law approved by the Legislature in 2014. That law states that distilleries “may sell not more than three ounces a day of the distillery’s product to a person for consumption on the premises.”The two-drink limit at all distilleries will remain in effect.The new rule goes into effect 30 days after Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott signs the new regulation.It is not clear when that signing will take place.Share this story:last_img read more

Southwest Florida coronavirus case totals for Friday, March 12

first_imgAdvertisementRecommended ArticlesBrie Larson Reportedly Replacing Robert Downey Jr. As The Face Of The MCURead more81 commentsGal Gadot Reportedly Being Recast As Wonder Woman For The FlashRead more29 comments Southwest Florida coronavirus case totals for Thursday, June 3 June 4, 2021 Advertisement Southwest Florida coronavirus case totals for Tuesday, June 1 June 2, 2021 Data per the Florida Department of Health as of Friday, March 12. Additional case data compares to the previous update.TOTAL CASES IN FLORIDA:  1,967,865 (+5,214)TOTAL DEATHS IN FLORIDA:  32,744 (+105)TOTAL IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA:  110,793 (+ 237)LEE COUNTY –  59,518 (+147) | 899 (+0) COLLIER COUNTY –  31,126 (+52) | 477 (+5)CHARLOTTE COUNTY –  10,959 (+25) | 381 (+0)HENDRY COUNTY –  4,359 (+2) | 75 (+0)DESOTO COUNTY –  3,920 (+11) | 77 (+1)GLADES COUNTY – 911 (+0) | 16 (+0) Southwest Florida coronavirus case totals for Friday, May 28 May 31, 2021 AdvertisementTags: Covid daily totals Advertisement RELATEDTOPICS AdvertisementDC Young Fly knocks out heckler (video) – Rolling OutRead more6 comments’Mortal Kombat’ Exceeded Expectations Says WarnerMedia ExecutiveRead more2 commentsDo You Remember Bob’s Big Boy?Read more1 commentsKISS Front Man Paul Stanley Reveals This Is The End Of KISS As A Touring Band, For RealRead more1 comments Southwest Florida coronavirus case totals for Wednesday, June 2 June 3, 2021last_img read more

Horizons launches China dividend ETF

first_img IE Staff Companies Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. Share this article and your comments with peers on social media The new ETF seeks investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond in general to the performance of the Hang Seng high-dividend yield index, according the Horizons ETFs announcement. This underlying index is designed to measure the performance of 50 of the highest-dividend yielding equity securities, which include real estate investment trusts, in the Hang Seng Index. “Historically, many Canadian investors sought exposure to emerging Asia by holding North American multi-national stocks, which have business interests in Asian economies,” says Steve Hawkins, Co-CEO of Horizons ETFs, in a statement. “The dynamics of the Chinese economy are changing and, in order to really capture China’s long-term economic growth, investors should consider the direct exposure that HCN provides.” China is currently the world’s second-largest economy, by gross domestic product, surpassing US$10 trillion in 2014 and predicted to more than double to US$22 trillion by 2030, according to South Korea-based Mirae Asset Global Investments, Horizons’ parent company, in a statement. China’s growth rate is expected to range between 6% and 8% over the next few years — almost four times the growth rate expected for developed economies such as the U.S. and Canada, Mirae adds. Through the new ETF, investors gain exposure to China’s robust economic growth through equities securities that have a consistent three-year track record of paying dividends. A significant number of the Hong Kong-listed dividend-paying companies are China-based companies or have substantial business interests in mainland China, according to Horizons ETFs. “By investing in top dividend-paying companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, investors are not only getting timely exposure to Chinese companies with consistent dividend yields, but are also getting the added benefit of Hong Kong’s modern market reforms, regulatory oversight and structure,” Hawkins adds. Beginning with the entire universe of large-cap and mid-cap issuers in the Hang Seng index, the Hang Seng high-dividend yield index is created by screening for three factors: liquidity, dividend-paying track record, while eliminating listings with the highest one-year volatility. In addition to HCN, Horizons Hang Seng High Dividend Yield ETF, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and managed by Mirae Asset Global Investments (Hong Kong) Ltd., a Mirae subsidiary, also tracks this underlying index. “This is essentially the first cross-listed mandate offered in Canada that also exists in our Hong Kong-based ETF business,” says Taeyong Lee, co-CEO of Horizons ETFs and president of Mirae’s global ETF business. Headquartered in South Korea, Mirae Asset Global Investments Group has in excess of US$75 billion of assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2015. Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Toronto-based Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. has announced the launch of Horizons China High Dividend Yield Index ETF, which provides exposure to high dividend yielding Hong Kong-listed equity securities. Units of the exchange-traded fund (ETF) began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday in Canadian dollars under the ticker symbol “HCN.” last_img read more

Your Corner Wrench: What to do when your car burns oil

first_img We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” Oil changes: Do it yourself or leave to the pros?If you head off to your dealership to get this problem checked out and they don’t find anything amiss after an external check-up, you’ll be required to get an oil consumption test for your vehicle.  This usually requires the dealer completing a fresh oil change and instructing you to return when you notice the oil is down to the first hash marks below full on the dipstick.The easiest way to check this is to pull the stick before the first start-up of the day.  If the vehicle is parked on a relatively level grade you’ll get a very accurate picture of the oil level without having to wipe the dipstick off and reinserting it.  Some dealers will require a new oil change any time a top up is required during this test – that’s overkill, pure and simple.  They simply need to record the mileage on the odometer and the amount of oil needed to bring the level to the correct mark on the dipstick.You should get copies of any and all of this documentation for your own records. While simple engine designs can make topping up the oil and rechecking it a quick affair, some more involved builds can require as much as 15 to 20 minutes of time before the majority of oil runs back down into the oil pan where the dipstick can measure it.  So, plan your visits to the service department accordingly. The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? Check these 5 things first | Used Truck Advice | Driving.caPlayCanada’s most efficient trucks in 2021 | Driving.caPlay3 ways to make night driving safer and more comfortable | Advice | Driving.caPlayDriving into the Future: Sustainability and Innovation in tomorrow’s cars | Driving.ca virtual panelPlayThese spy shots get us an early glimpse of some future models | Driving.ca See More Videos Trending in Canada Trending Videos COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTScenter_img The first hurdle car-owners face is what auto manufacturers refer to as “acceptable rates of consumption.”  Every carmaker publishes their standard for oil consumption and it varies between companies from as much as 1 litre per 1,800 kilometres.  If your engine falls within these guidelines, you’re not likely to get any further in getting warranty repairs to correct things.  It’s unfortunate because at 1 litre per, say 1,700 kilometres, you’re likely to empty the engine’s crankcase between oil changes. If any engine on any vehicle burns enough oil to have to top it up between recommended service intervals, it has a problem.  And putting this artificial hurdle up to customers is just a way of someone avoiding an expensive repair.RELATED RELATED TAGSSafety and MaintenanceMaintenanceNew VehiclesAutomobile ManufacturingBusinessConsumer CyclicalsConsumer Products and ServicesConsumer ProtectionDriving.caIndustriesManufacturing SectorMotor Vehicle ManufacturingProduct Guarantees advertisement If your car’s oil consumption rate falls within the manufacturer’s “acceptable” limits, you’re pretty much out of luck with getting any action under warranty. Then again, you could always ask your carmaker, “if that’s an acceptable rating, does it mean all your vehicles burn that much oil?” It’s one of a car owner’s worst nightmares – pulling the engine oil dipstick, only a few weeks after an oil change service, and finding it down a litre or two. With no leaks or tell-tale stains on the driveway in sight, it looks like a case of internal oil consumption.  And you can add to this aggravation the uncertainty of dealing with your vehicle manufacturer – that is, if it’s under warranty.The most common causes of oil consumption can be boiled down to two areas – cylinder heads, or piston/cylinder walls. If a cylinder head has defective oil seals on their valves, they can leak oil down into the combustion chamber.  This type of fault usually produces a noticeable puff of bluish smoke from the exhaust on start up as the seals can drop oil onto the tops of the pistons when the engine is shut down for a few hours.The other main cause is due to poor sealing between the cylinder walls and pistons due to either defective piston oil rings or excessive clearance.  Either way, it can be a very expensive symptom to correct – which is why most carmakers will put their customers’ vehicles through a series of tests and checks to verify the amount of consumption before taking any corrective action. Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 If you have to top up your car’s oil at any point between changes, consider yourself warned – that could be a very expensive problem to fix. ‹ Previous Next ›last_img read more

Two pedals prove difficult for one Korean actor and Tesla owner

first_img Trending Videos advertisement Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 Son Ji-chang’s crashed Tesla Model X. ‹ Previous Next › If you’re going to blame your car for driving through your garage wall by itself, you’d do well not to blame a car that automatically uploads driver inputs to a cloud where the manufacturer can see it.South Korean actor Son Ji-chang recently posted photos to Facebook of his Tesla Model X rammed through his garage wall and protruding into his living room. Ji-chang claims the car took off by itself and went on a murderous quest towards the sofa. But unlike most cars, a Tesla is always recording driver actions and the manufacturer can pull that data very easily.Information such as pedal movement, speed, steering wheel position and even whether or not the drivers hands were on the wheel, were all recorded. According to the National Post, the accelerator pedal was pressed down to 100 per cent at the time of the crash. It would seem he mixed up the stoppy-blocky pedal with the speedy-skinny pedal. The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” RELATED TAGSModel XTeslaElectricElectric CarsElectric VehiclesNew VehiclesNational PostToyota Priuscenter_img Various “unintended acceleration” scandals date back to Audi and Toyota‘s debacles. Both were later proved to be a combination of over-excited media and driver error.  We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. Trending in Canada COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? Check these 5 things first | Used Truck Advice | Driving.caPlayCanada’s most efficient trucks in 2021 | Driving.caPlay3 ways to make night driving safer and more comfortable | Advice | Driving.caPlayDriving into the Future: Sustainability and Innovation in tomorrow’s cars | Driving.ca virtual panelPlayThese spy shots get us an early glimpse of some future models | Driving.ca See More Videoslast_img read more

Fisheries Officers Trained in Extension Services

first_imgFisheries Officers Trained in Extension Services AgricultureMay 17, 2010 RelatedFisheries Officers Trained in Extension Services RelatedFisheries Officers Trained in Extension Services FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail The technical capabilities of a number of the island’s fisheries officers have been significantly enhanced, by their participation in a five-week extension training course at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Fisheries Division, Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston.The course formed part of capacity building activities being implemented under the sustainable marine fisheries management component of the Improving Jamaica Agriculture Productivity Project (IJAPP). Just over 30 fisheries officers and instructors participated in the course. They are currently providing extension services to the over 40,000 fisherfolk.The IJAPP is a three-year project, funded at a cost of just over C$5 million by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.In addition to sustainable marine fisheries management, the project is also focusing on expanding green house activities.Project Manager, Mr. Peter Reid, told JIS News that the course was the second in a series of technical training programmes being executed for fisheries officers and fisherfolk, under the initiative focusing on safety at sea. Participants included personnel working with stakeholders at the six beaches earmarked for rehabilitation – Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine; Rocky Point, Clarendon; Black River and Calabash Bay, St. Elizabeth; and Negril and Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.Mr. Reid explained that the training courses were designed for implementation by Capacity Building Specialist with the programme, Mrs. Denise Erskine-Jones, after a needs analysis was conducted.Key areas of focus include: public health, proper handling of fish and money management. Areas covered under the extension course included: communications; fisheries extension; the role of the extension officers; sociology; planning; and information dissemination.Module components were executed by Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Joseph Lindsay.“From the feedback that we are getting, they are well suited to go back and do their jobs, enhancing the fisherfolks’ livelihood and the methods that they use in the fishing industry and on the beaches. They will (now) go out and interact with them, and they will be better able to impart what they have been taught,” Mr. Reid advised.Mrs. Erskine-Jones pointed out that her primary focus was to assist the fisherfolk operating from the six beach rehabilitation project areas, in their personal and vocational development “in a holistic way.”“So that they can embark on a sustainability effort once the Canadians have completed their part of the project, which is to put up the money to rehabilitate the six beaches,” she explained.Mrs. Erskine-Jones disclosed that there are five additional training courses to be undertaken, including the third scheduled for this month, which will focus on re-sensitisation of stakeholders to fisheries management.She pointed out that the course modules, which will be imparted by UWI lecturer, Dr. Karl Aiken, will target the fisherfolk councils, which have been established in the six beach rehabilitation project areas. The remaining courses are scheduled to be executed later this year, into 2011.Addressing graduates of the extension training course, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dr. Marc Panton, highlighted their role within the sector in terms of educating stakeholders and the wider public.“If we do not have the buy-in of the fishing community, if we are not able to convince them of the importance of the fish sanctuaries, the importance of why we are putting up gear sheds and really developing the environment within which they work, it really will (come) to (nothing). The buy-in, the maintenance, the development will rely on these folks who you interact with on a daily basis,” Dr. Panton saidcenter_img RelatedFisheries Officers Trained in Extension Services Advertisementslast_img read more

HEART TRUST/NTA Partners with JEF

first_imgRelatedEducation Minister Satisfied With Start of New School Year The Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) and the HEART Trust/NTA have renewed their partnership agreement to develop training programmes to benefit the Jamaican workforce and companies.Speaking with JIS News, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the official launch of National Employers’ Month celebrations, at the JEF’s headquarters, in Kingston, on September 5, Chief Executive Officer of the JEF, Brenda Cuthbert, said the agreement, which will last for two years, deals with cooperation and collaboration.“We want to make sure that the whole business of certification is underscored. We want to make sure that we have a workforce which is ready and employees who are certified and ready for work,” she emphasised.She informed that the JEF will provide the HEART Trust/NTA with the names of companies that need assistance regarding certification and training.For his part, Executive Director, HEART Trust/NTA, Dr. Wayne Wesley, said the partnership will assist in advancing the mission and vision of the HEART Trust.“This partnership is critical to the Trust, given the fact that the Trust Fund is maintained through the loyal three per cent contribution of our employers. We cannot underestimate your commitment in that regard, and in turn we are making training available. Let us know what your training needs are, so we can respond accordingly,” he urged.Dr. Wesley emphasised that on-the-job training through apprenticeship, internship and industry work experience is crucial to the HEART Trust/NTA.He added that his agency is committed to nation building and economic development, through the provision of an internationally recognised certified and competent workforce.The HEART Trust/NTA serves as a model in developing and implementing competency-based skill standards and qualifications in the Caribbean.The mission of the JEF is to remain the premiere employers’ organization in the region, by continuously providing valuable services to their members, thereby assisting them in achieving global competitiveness.In the meantime, National Employers’ Month, which was officially launched during the function, will be celebrated this month.Activities for the month include a church service at the Tarrant Baptist Church on Sunday, September 7; members’ forum on Monday, September 8; members meeting on Thursday, September 11, and seminars.National Employers’ Month is being observed under the theme: ‘Our Agenda…Growth, Development, Partnership for Prosperity’. HEART TRUST/NTA Partners with JEF EducationSeptember 8, 2014Written by: Chris Patterson FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail Photo: JIS PhotographerMinister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes (seated left), looks on as Executive Director, HEART Trust/NTA, Dr. Wayne Wesley (seated centre) and 2nd Vice President, Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), Raymond Eytle (seated right), sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the JEF’s headquarters in Kingston, on September 5. Others (standing from left) are: Senior Director, Workforce Development and Employment at HEART Trust/NTA, Denworth Finnikin; Chief Executive Officer, JEF, Brenda Cuthbert; and Senior Manager, Learning, HRD and Workplace Solutions, Yvonne Davis. The signing signals the renewal of a partnership between the HEART Trust/NTA and the JEF, which will, among other things, develop programmes to benefit the Jamaican workforce. HEART TRUST/NTA Partners with JEFJIS News | Presented by: PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQualityundefinedSpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreenPlaycenter_img RelatedNeed For Greater Balance Between Skills And Academics – Education Minister Advertisements RelatedMount Olivet Boys Decked Out for Back-to-School Story HighlightsThe Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) and the HEART Trust/NTA have renewed their partnership agreement to develop training programmes to benefit the Jamaican workforce and companies.Chief Executive Officer of the JEF, Brenda Cuthbert, said the agreement, which will last for two years, deals with cooperation and collaboration.She informed that the JEF will provide the HEART Trust/NTA with the names of companies that need assistance regarding certification and training.last_img read more

Facebook faces fresh privacy pressure

first_img AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to MoreAddThisMore 19 DEC 2018 Author Apps Facebook was again forced to defend deals involving sharing users’ data, after The New York Times (NYT) alleged special terms offered to leading technology companies breached the social media giant’s own privacy terms.The newspaper said agreements with giants including Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon and Yahoo resulted in Facebook sharing more information than users had consented to.Furthermore, with some of the practices continuing after Facebook claimed to have improved protections in the wake of a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, NYT said the social media company could have breached an historic agreement with the Federal Trade Commission protecting users’ privacy.Facebook responded swiftly, stating none of the “partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission”.It said it struck deals enabling users to access their accounts through devices and platforms from “known integration partners” including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry and Yahoo. Other agreements covering “popular apps” from Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and even NYT enabled “more social experiences”, by enabling users to see recommendations made by their connections.Ime Archibong, VP of product partnerships at Facebook, in June said it was “not aware of any abuse” of deals with device manufacturers, after NYT reported the agreements had enabled vendors to access information on users who had declined to share data with third parties.In its latest statement, Facebook said many of the partnerships have either already been closed, or are being wound-down. Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back Related Facebook to pay News Corp for Australia content HomeAppsNews Facebook faces fresh privacy pressure Previous ArticleSoftBank unit shares stumble on market debutNext ArticleLenovo in line for Snapdragon 855 first center_img Facebook trials feature to connect neighbours Facebook continues content crusade Michael doesn’t want to admit that he has been a journalist and editor for close to 20 years covering a diverse set of subjects including shipping and shipbuilding, fixed and mobile telecoms, and motorcycling…More Read more FacebookPrivacy Tags Michael Carroll last_img read more

Where Franchises Failed, Independent Video Stores Open

first_img With three DVDs tucked under her arm, new customer JoAnn Lee said some of her friends don’t have credit cards, so they can’t set up an account or rent from Netflix or Redbox. And she prefers the experience of walking into an actual store, as opposed to tapping on a Redbox screen, while others wait in line for her to make a movie selection. “I like coming in and physically touching the movie and reading the back,” Lee said. “It’s nice that there’s a store here in town that’s inexpensive.” In January, the Oregon-based company Movie Gallery filed for bankruptcy due to steeply declining revenues and an inability to handle the debt it took on after acquiring the Hollywood Video rental chain. Two Movie Gallery stores in Kalispell closed shortly thereafter. Blockbuster Inc., headquartered in Texas, now teeters close to the same fate as it undergoes corporate restructuring. In Kalispell, the Blockbuster store on West Idaho Street closed in March after 10 years of business. By most accounts, the downward slide of these formerly successful international movie and game rental businesses can be attributed to the popularity of Redbox kiosks, mail-order services like Netflix, streaming movies available on the Internet and the movies-on-demand options offered by most cable and satellite TV services. But for the Larkeys and John King, who with his brother Gary and local developer Shannon Nalty, owns Hometown Video, the failure of the parent companies aren’t indicative of the Kalispell stores themselves not turning a profit. In fact, just the opposite was true. “The former Movie Gallery location that we took over,” King said, “was very profitable, even with a much higher layer of administrative overhead.” Upon the south side Movie Gallery’s closure, several people who formerly operated local video rentals approached Nalty and King, the developers of that shopping center, to open another video rental store at the location. “That was kind of a tipoff,” King said. “Maybe there was something there.” “We saw that all that demand wasn’t going to dry up overnight,” he added. “Being landlords of the building, we had a good idea of what the fixed costs were of the store.” Both businesses bought up much of the movie inventory of the closing chain rental stores, and both new ventures also made the conscious decision to rely heavily on local expertise. “We have given full control of decision-making to the staff to make the customer as happy and pleased as possible,” King said. “Those (Redbox) machines are not going to give anyone advice as to what movie to pick.” At Video Plus, the Larkeys hired Mary Griffith, who formerly managed two Kalispell Movie Gallery locations, to run their new venture. Unlike her former position with a corporate franchise, Griffith said she appreciates the flexibility that a locally run, independent business provides, particularly when it comes to accommodating the viewing requests of customers and rounding out the video library with classics. “We’re still ordering videos today that people come in and ask for,” Griffith said. “You have to root around those bins at Walmart – see if they’ve got Dr. Zhivago.” Both businesses also touted how much more quickly the customer can see the movie they want to watch than with a mail-order service. “We are not in Seattle or Denver, where things are mailed out for a distribution center on the other side of town,” King said. “It’s pretty hard to see more than one movie per week.” Yet both Video Plus and Hometown Video have an eye on the future, as broadband access improves, making streaming movies through the Internet increasingly easy. “In another four of five years I think video rentals may be gone,” Larkey said. “So we’re going to branch out a little bit.” In addition to renting DVDs, Blu-ray discs and games, Video Plus plans to sell home theater and gaming systems, refurbished computers, video accessories and begin performing some computer repair and disc resurfacing. Video Plus will buy used games and offer store credit on their trade-in value. DVDs and games are also for sale, and the store features a lounge area with free wi-fi and coffee. Hometown Video also plans to expand, but is waiting to see what works. “We’re trying to get the basics right first and do a good job with the core part of operating the business, adding bells and whistles as we go,” King said. Aware they’re not likely to put Redbox or Netflix out of business, however, Hometown Video and Video Plus believe they can fill a niche with video rentals that are distinctly local. “We think we can successfully coexist with the kiosks and the subscription product,” King said. “We’re offering a different kind of experience and we think it’s a better one.” Larkey agrees. “The only way brick-and-mortar businesses are going to survive is if they can compete with the dot-coms,” Larkey said. “Really and truly they are, that’s the way of the world.” Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Jonathan Massie helps out by putting DVD movies into security cases at the new Video Plus video rental in Kalispell. At a time when Redbox movie kiosks stand in front of most grocery stores and Netflix DVD envelopes fill enough mailboxes to put chain video rentals out of business, local video rental stores seem a relic of a former era – a time when you could run into the video store, with a take-out dinner cooling in the car, and a clerk would point you in the direction of a movie they think you’ll like. But in Kalispell, two such stores have opened recently, and owners report that business is booming. On the south side of town, Hometown Video has opened in the site of the former Movie Gallery along U.S. Highway 93, and on East Idaho Street, Video Plus is now open in the site of the former Stoick pharmacy. “I think there’s a necessity for it here,” said Mike Larkey, who with his wife Connie opened Video Plus and, within a week, had more than 200 members. On a recent afternoon, customers filed in and out of the store, opening new accounts, dropping off movies and games, and browsing the aisles. The philosophy behind these new ventures is basic, but could prove durable in these tough economic times: Offer low prices, customer service and variety in a way less personal video rental mediums simply can’t, because they’re not locally owned and run. Emaillast_img read more