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Tech & Science Blackmores hikes China investment in pursuit of 'modern career women'

23:30  26 february  2020
23:30  26 february  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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Blackmores says it will open a "centre of excellence for the modern career woman " in Shanghai as it targets "very stressed" working women in the Vitamins company Blackmores will substantially lift investment in China in a bid to better appeal to the “ modern career woman ” in the world’s most

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a close up of a bottle: Blackmores' overhaul strategy has laid out four key priorities for the group; rejuvenating its Australian operations, drive new growth in Indonesia and India, appeal to the © John Woudstra Blackmores' overhaul strategy has laid out four key priorities for the group; rejuvenating its Australian operations, drive new growth in Indonesia and India, appeal to the "modern career woman in China", and make the organisation world class.

Vitamins company Blackmores will substantially lift investment in China in a bid to better appeal to the “modern career woman” in the world’s most populous nation, the group's number one customer around the globe.

The company is also considering exporting pet supplements and products to China, a market segment tipped to more than double to $US260 million by 2024.

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Why Blackmores Group? I was attracted to Blackmores ’ unrivalled reputation for quality and building the I think we need to guard against the pursuit of the quick fix. We love hiking or walking for hours as we discover new places. Fly fishing in beautiful locations is also a favourite activity of mine.

Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India. The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labour markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain

It also plans to enter the Indian market within a year and boost its presence in Indonesia.

The moves are part of an overhaul of Blackmores’ strategy unveiled on Tuesday, as the group seeks to address its ailing profit performance. Blackmores also confirmed that its first-half net profit had fallen 47 per cent to $18.2 million.

New Blackmores boss Alastair Symington said he hoped investors would recognise that the company's plans were "far more consumer-centric than they've ever been".

"Rather than just talking about capitalising on a market place like China, we're actually now talking about a specific group of consumers in China. So the modern career woman is one which we feel is highly lucrative, she's the most discerning consumer that we see globally.

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a man wearing a suit and tie: New Blackmores boss Alastair Symington hopes investors recognise that the company is more consumer focussed than ever before. © Provided by The Age New Blackmores boss Alastair Symington hopes investors recognise that the company is more consumer focussed than ever before.

"She's the one with the greatest influence around the choices that her family and her friends are making," he said.

In an investor presentation, Blackmores said the modern career woman in China felt a strong need to achieve but also look good and sought control of a frantic life.

The presentation said 85 per cent of these women were "very stressed", and faced pressure balancing the demands of work and home. It said these women want "the best" and felt a "high level of guilt".

Mr Symington said Blackmores would open a new innovation centre in Shanghai - the "centre of excellence for the modern career woman" - which would develop new products for the China market that could also be exported.

The China investment also includes more spending on consumer research and hiring new staff.

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Chinese Yuan (¥CNY). Working with us. At the Blackmores Group we are empowered Well Beings, focused on quality & innovation. It is with this ethos that we are able to offer rewarding career opportunities to people just like you!

Blackmores also told investors that a 2019 report found that the pet supplements segment in China was worth about $US116 million ($175 million) per year, and was forecast to rise to $US260 million by 2024.

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"Over the past few months, we have identified opportunities to focus our strategic effort and investments on fewer, more premium brands in a focused group of markets and channels," the company said in a statement.

"To begin on a path to deliver sustainable, profitable growth over the next four years, we will simplify our operations and increase productivity over time," Blackmores said.

The new Blackmores strategy identified four key priorities: rejuvenating its Australian operations, driving new growth in Indonesia and India, appealing to the "modern career woman in China" and making the organisation world class.

Blackmores went into an unexpected trading halt earlier this month ahead of a trading update which disappointed the market. In response to the update, which revealed the profit plunge, Blackmores shares fell 12.8 per cent on the day.

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The market was much more pleased with Tuesday's strategy overhaul, with Blackmores shares closing down 1.8 per cent at $68.50 against a broader market fall of 1.6 per cent.

But this is a far cry from the heady days of early 2016, when the stock traded above the $220 mark thanks to booming Chinese demand for its products.

In the period since, it has run into regulatory hurdles in China, was forced to find two new CEOs and lost its market darling status. Domestic sales in Australia have been flat for the past four years.

The strategic revamp comes just a few months into the tenure of Mr Symington, who was selected to fill the role after a lengthy global executive search.

Morgans analyst Belinda Moore said Blackmores had released a "very credible strategy" to repair the business, but said short-term challenges remained, including the coronavirus.

In October Mr Symington said the company was trying to develop too many products at once, and needed to sharpen its focus on products that were financially viable.

"We've got more than 200 projects in our innovation funnel right now. [For] a company of our size that's too many, we need to get to a much sharper list," he said at the time.

Blackmores made only limited comments on the coronavirus in its statement to the ASX, effectively repeating recent comments that the virus would be one of a handful of factors that would have "a material impact" on its full-year result.

The company said earlier this month that the biggest adverse impact on its full-year result, to the tune of $9.5 million, would come from a blowout in manufacturing costs related to its recently acquired manufacturing plant.

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