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Contents 12 Retail therapy

51 Under cover

Victor Calleja meets Vince Farrugia, GRTU Director General, to discuss whether local retail is heading towards recovery.

There are various types of insurance available for retailers, says Andrew Falzon.

16 Buying and selling a brand

Branding creates a bond which is based on a unique and personal channel between products and customers, says Chris Mifsud.

While companies which represent franchises in Malta often do a great job, franchising a Maltese brand overseas is more challenging, says Vanessa Macdonald.

23 Duel on high street Can shopping complexes and high street shops coexist, or are they killing each other off? Veronica Stivala speaks to representatives from shopping complexes and high street shops to find out.

31 Being of service Gino Cutajar outlines the services that the Malta Chamber provides to retailers.

35 S  upporting micro enterprises Micro enterprises are being encouraged to invest and reduce their tax bill through the MicroInvest scheme and the European Investment Fund, says Chris Galea, Malta Enterprise.

39 Reading the fine print The retail experience is packaged with rights and obligations for both consumer and trader, says Odette Vella.

43 Getting ahead

59 E-commerce for the real world In today’s world, no business can afford to be offline, says Rene Magri.

61 In search of retail marketing edge Ray Grech outlines the key marketing and communication strategies that can determine profitable success for local retailers.

65 Traditional advertising is dead Joseph Borg gets excited about this year’s most intelligent viral campaigns.

69 On the label By attracting customers’ attention, effective packaging plays an important role in the retail process, says designer Ramon Micallef.

70 Drawn to design Photographer and prospective architect Kris Micallef draws up plans with architect Matthew J. Mercieca.

82 The man comes around

When managed responsibly, trade credit can help the Maltese retailer gain and sustain competitive advantage, says Josef Busuttil.

The life and times of ‘The Man’ Franck Bobinski.

45 Investor protection

Up the sleek factor and get the party started this festive season in these head turning party pieces.

Before making any investment decisions, you must be equipped for any eventualities, says Mark Hollingsworth.

49 From the starting line Entrepreneurship is about passion, tenacity and business shrewdness, says Peter Sant.

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55 The name is bond

84 Luxe living

88 Paradise found Surf’s up for Mona Farrugia as she finds treasure on her island.

90 Seasonal blues Take time out and deal with your internal pressures, says Claude Camilleri.


They called it “the partnership that consolidated Lighthouse Group as Malta’s leading marketing company.” A veteran of the local market Lighthouse has stretched its reach to foreign shores and partnered with Ashley Worldgroup. If you were mesmerised by the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics, if you were spellbound by the Greek pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, if you were enticed to holiday in Greece by the multinational campaigns of the last few years, if you were influenced by the Hyundai campaign in the South African World Cup, then you have already met Ashley Worldgroup. Welcome to Lighthouse and Ashley. Let’s talk.

Lighthouse and Ashley. 14, C. Mallia Street, San Gwann SGN 2202, Malta t: (356) 21 387 900 e: info@lighthouse.com.mt | www.lighthouse.com.mt


Welcome At first glance, the transaction seems quite straightforward – you browse through a selection of items, make your choice, pay, and the item is yours. We do it every day, in various forms and to satisfy a diversity of needs. Yet behind this, at most, five-minute exchange, there are hours invested in market research, product design, marketing, and creating a space to serve as both a showcase and as a place from where an item can be sold. In this issue of Money, we look at how retail makes the world go round. From a consumer’s point of view, buying a product involves an investment of our senses, attention and money. For a retailer, manufacturing, producing and marketing a product entails issues such as credit, insurance, retail space, competition and marketing. In our main interview, Vince Farrugia, Director General of the GRTU, discusses the challenges that local retailers must meet in order to survive in a highly-competitive market. We discuss whether high street shops and shopping complexes can coexist side by side, showcase local franchise efforts, look at how marketing and branding enrich the conversation between retailer and consumer, and highlight issues such as traders’ obligations, consumer protection and the architectural elements involved in retail spaces. Since Money prides itself on an effective mix of business and lifestyle, we take a wellearned rest in the Maldives, organise a gorgeous fashion shoot, and gladly suffer the heat in the kitchen to come up with some mouth-watering recipes. Read on and enjoy.

Editor Anthony P. Bernard Email: anthony@becommunications.com Consulting Editor Stanley Borg Email: stanley@becommunications.com Design Porridge | www.weareporridge.com Printing Progress Press Distribution Mailbox Direct Marketing Group Hand delivered to businesses in Malta and selected Vodafone corporate clients and all their retail outlets. All 5 Star Hotels including their business centres, executive lounges and rooms (where allowed). Maltese Embassies abroad (UK, Rome, Brussels, Moscow and Libya). Some Government institutions and ministries. For information regarding promotion and advertising contact Jamie Maher Tel: 00 356 2131 4719, 2134 2155 Email: money@becommunications.com

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Money is published by BE Communications Ltd, 37, Amery Street, Sliema SLM 1702 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed in Money are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, but the editor and publishers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in articles, advertising, photographs or illustrations. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome but cannot be returned without a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The editor is not responsible for material submitted for consideration.


Retail therapy Victor Calleja meets Vince Farrugia, GRTU Director General, to discuss whether local retail is heading towards recovery.

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conomist Vince Farrugia has headed the GRTU as Director General for the past 16 years. During these years, through his anti-VAT stand, Mr Farrugia indirectly helped the Labour Party claim its only, short-lived electoral success in the past 23 years. He also contributed to Malta’s accession to the EU through his association’s support and was a Nationalist Party candidate for MEP elections. Mr Farrugia today represents Maltese employers on the European Economic and Social Committee and is a member of the Employers Bureau of EESC, member of the Board of Administration of Eurocommerce and UEAPME. Mr Farrugia is no doubt a colourful character, blunt and opinionated. He also manages to dominate public opinion, even on subjects far removed from the retail trade. I meet him to discuss the local trading scene and what his organisation is doing in a fast-evolving, ever-changing, globalised world. Explaining the major challenges facing the local retail sector, Mr Farrugia says that, “The whole distribution network in Malta needs serious reform. It is an economic area which has been allowed to develop without any planning. The policies of the various Public Regulatory Authorities for this sector are haphazard and hardly followed when permits for retail outlets or other wholesale or distribution systems are introduced. Logistically, commercial centres and special services areas are planned in the most chaotic manner, with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) failing to offer a holistic strategy.

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Malta has too many retailers and service providers for the limited size of the market.

“This causes various enterprises to lose money because of excessive costs in a very inefficient system of distribution from wholesale to retail, with too many delays and too much unnecessary costly space being utilised wrongly and uneconomically. Malta is a country where the value of land is high and where competitiveness is extremely acute and profitability in retail highly depends on the optimal use of land and location.” With regards to planning, there is also the issue of traffic rules. How has traffic management, especially in Valletta, impacted on the retail world? Should more locations have park-and-ride schemes? “Park-and-ride schemes are important but not always practical,” says Mr Farrugia. “We prefer parking facilities close to shopping areas, even if at a cost. Valletta is a difficult case as are all walled historical cities. We strive to educate our members that people go to a historical city because such cities are beautiful, attractive and convenient. Parking is one essential convenience but not the only one. In the right ambience, people assemble and visit regularly and that is good for business. In Valletta we have not yet found the right balance. This is also because so much work is still going on, over a short period of time. The

authorities are listening to too many confusing voices, not all attuned to the realities of Valletta. “Politics is also being introduced so there is an element of negativism which is not helping to resolve matters. I am personally optimistic that, once the immediate, difficult period is over, the future for Valletta businesses is bright, much brighter than many perceive it now. It is sad to see that Members of Parliament have selfishly grabbed for themselves, and for free, on a 24 hour, seven days a week basis, the best parking places in Valletta. If this attitude by people, who should know much better, ends, and we all learn to be more cooperative for the common good, then Valletta will have a much better future.”

store will, however, have to be intensely competitive in the provision of a speedy and quality customer service if it wants to survive in a highly competitive market. “Malta has too many retailers and service providers for the limited size of the market and this is creating issues even for the larger supermarkets, department stores and quality shopping alleys, as the market to make certain high-level investment feasible is simply not there.” A solution for the smaller entrepreneurs could be to team up and pool resources in order to come up with an innovative marketing plan to compete with the big boys.

In a globalised world, where big international brands are practically taking over the market, what is the future of the individual, independent retail outlet?

“All attempts to move in this direction, at least in Malta, have failed,” says Mr Farrugia. “By nature, smaller business operators are extremely independentminded and, for this reason, they are the least likely to make a cooperation exercise work.”

“The globalised world has made life difficult for the general store,” says Mr Farrugia. “The smaller retail outlet that specialises in the servicing of clearly identified niches in the market, even in a limited market like Malta, could have an excellent future. The small general

Another issue for local retailers is opening hours, which are regulated by Government. Yet shouldn’t opening hours be up to the retail outlet itself to decide? But then, if all restrictions were to be removed, wouldn’t the smaller trader find it difficult to compete with the big stores?

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“In the past, the GRTU argued that owners and employees in the retail trade have the right to a family day on the same lines as other operators on the market, especially those in the public sector and in finance,” says Mr Farrugia. “However, the pressure from consumers and trade unions representing employees in a selected number of larger stores, was for Sunday to remain free for shopping and additional earnings for employees. The majority of independent, smaller retail outlets and their employees were, and continue to be, against Sunday shopping. The GRTU, as the national organisation representing retailers, and as an organisation traditionally entrenched in its dislike of the nanny state, tried hard to educate and encourage store owners to accept that the best way forward is for the individual owners to decide on their own whether or not to open on Sundays and public holidays. “The GRTU today argues that the value of the trading licence is at its highest when the restrictions imposed are at their lowest. The GRTU believes that it makes no sense for something like Sunday trading to become something imposed at law. We cannot have a police regime in action every Sunday to enforce the law. For a long time the state was doing all it could to enforce the law strictly as to who could or could not open and at what time. This depended on the efficiency of a police force which was most unwilling to carry out such responsibilities. On the instigation of the GRTU the law has now been sufficiently changed so that most shops can, if they choose to, open on Sundays and public holidays. In Gozo there are no trading restrictions at all. The next step is for the whole of Malta to follow suit.” Does the GRTU in any way help budding entrepreneurs come up with an interesting business plan? This could help them come to the conclusion whether their planned retail outlet makes market sense or not. “We strive hard, at national and EU level, to obtain funds to assist new startups in the retail and services sector,” Mr Farrugia confirms. “We have faced great

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opposition as traditionally funds were only available for manufacturing enterprises. Things are now changing. We, as an organisation, offer assistance programmes through a number of private organisations with whom we coordinate special deals and rates for our members without us competing with private entities that offer training and assistance services.” Is the Maltese trader gearing up for the change that has happened and will continue growing with the introduction of e-commerce? Has the GRTU tackled this? “The trader is geared up but the authorities are not,” says Mr Farrugia. “The new Government-financed system supports enterprises which choose an e-commerce option but is not fair for small businesses. It is using Government aid to distort the market against small businesses as it supports larger firms that circumvent the whole system to push smaller retailers out of the market by outpricing them. Independent retailers are now faced with prices offered by their suppliers on the state-aided e-commerce portal at the same level the wholesaler sells to retailers. State aid should never be used to disadvantage micro firms. On the contrary, state aid should be used to level out what is competitively unlevelled.” Last June, Mr Farrugia stated that retail and wholesale had stopped sliding and were on the way to recovery. What is the position now and how do you see the prospects for the next year? “Private and public consumption in Malta has still not reached the levels of annual growth that were registered up to the end of 2007,” says Mr Farrugia. “Since the economic recession started in 2008 total private consumption has moved forward only slightly or not at all. In June 2010 we reported that 30 per cent of retailers stopped sliding backwards on turnover and sales started moving up again. The situation today is that total sales of up to 50 per cent of retailers are again stable compared to first quarter 2008 figures. “The situation however is still not comfortable as the other 50 per cent have not reached previous figures. Total private

The GRTU today argues that the value of the trading licence is at its highest when the restrictions imposed are at their lowest. consumption growth is very marginal and the consumption of the public sector is being restrained due to pressure to cut the public sector financial deficit. The shortfall in total private consumption, which is so necessary to sustain retail sales, remains unsolved. The money that small businesses were promised to help them reinvest and improve their efficiency to cope better in a more competitive market has not materialised. The general level of earnings in the economy has not boosted household income sufficiently to push demand. Unless action is taken to boost consumer purchasing power the situation will remain worrying for many retailers for at least another six to twelve months.”

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Buying and selling a brand

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While companies which represent franchises in Malta often do a great job, franchising a Maltese brand overseas is more challenging, says Vanessa Macdonald.

Research shows that customers are twice as likely to buy from a franchise as from an independent business.

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ranchising is not a guaranteed path to success. A number of companies in Malta have been hoping to establish themselves enough locally to be able to sell their brand abroad – but local success stories don’t always translate well. Franchising is big in the US, a position it has built up since the concept was introduced in the 1930s, mostly in the service industry. In fact, the largest franchise is Subway, with McDonald’s in second position. But franchising is by no means limited to food. It is a business model used in over 70 industries, and accounts for around 800,000 outlets in the US alone. The British Franchise Association explains that the principle is simple: “Some companies choose to grow, not by developing in the conventional way, but by granting a licence to others to sell their product or service.” There are clear advantages to this. First, you don’t have to come up with a new idea – someone else has had it and tested it too. Also, larger, well-established franchise operations will often have national advertising campaigns and a solid trading name.

Another advantage is that good franchisors will offer comprehensive training programmes in sales and indeed all business skills. Good franchisors can also help secure funding for your investment as well as, for example, discounted bulkbuy supplies for outlets when you are in operation If aware that you are running a franchise, customers will also understand that you will be offering the best possible value for money and service – although you run your own show, you are part of a much larger organisation. The franchisor usually receives an upfront fee from the franchisee together with regular management service fees, which are usually based on a percentage of annual turnover or markups on supplies. In return, the franchisor has an obligation to support the franchise network, notably with training, product development, advertising, promotional activities and with a specialist range of management services. What does the franchisee get? Basically a short cut – the franchisor has spent time and money building up a brand and business model, which the franchisee gets instant access to. Why is it worth it?

Because research shows that customers are twice as likely to buy from a franchise as from an independent business. Franchising agreements involving Maltese expand in various ways. For example, companies which represent franchises in Malta often do such a good job that they are offered the chance to take over other regions. This was the case with Premier Capital, which has represented McDonald’s in Malta since 2005 but which now looks after dozens of restaurants in the Baltics. Other franchisees have also reached their limit in Malta but have entered growing markets in Europe – but as is so often the case in Malta, they tend to be rather media-shy. The other end of the stick is franchising a Maltese brand overseas. This has proved to be much more difficult and only a few companies have dared to dream, let alone succeed. Malta itself is too small for franchising – anyone who wants to add outlets can do so fairly easily without having to franchise, so the only reason a company would look at franchising would be to expand beyond Malta’s shores. But to succeed, the brand has to become a household name.


Jonathan Shaw Mr Shaw is a partner and local franchisee for Tommy Hilfiger in Malta and co-founder of the ChooseToTravel.com group of travel websites.

My motto for franchising is that we have to think global and yet also be able to act local.

Photo: George Scintilla If one is looking at being a master franchisor and expanding by franchising the business, one should look at doing so when a proven business model and support framework exist which can provide an added advantage to the client, in this case, the franchisee. Using franchising as a model of expansion to generate funds to sustain the same development or make up for loss of business in the original set-up would, in my opinion, be a short-lived and expensive strategy. On the other hand, if you are a franchisee and you achieved your development plans in a particular region or country, looking elsewhere for expansion with the same franchise is a feasible strategy to pursue.

The main factors that contribute towards the success of a franchise are 50 per cent the franchise and brand itself, 40 per cent local knowledge, management and expertise, and 10 per cent external market factors. Processes are extremely important in franchises, but yet again, the franchisor needs to allow a certain degree of flexibility to adapt to the local market and give a certain degree of autonomy to the franchisee. Yet this could be debateable according to what type of franchise one has – catering, for instance, would have a different degree of rigid processes than a fashion franchise. Whether franchising your own brand, or someone else’s, control is key to maintain a brand image

which is consistent globally – ultimately, this is what makes a franchise and a brand. It is important to have a local manager but it’s more important to have the right local manager. My motto for franchising is that we have to think global and yet also be able to act local. The first franchise is the hardest to set up. Yet for Tommy Hilfiger, my partners Joseph Borg and Simon Galea had been established in retail and fashion for a number of years so this facilitated the process. We are now also looking at expanding the franchise overseas and we hope to do so by 2012. With regards to the ChooseToTravel.com group of travel websites we first launched ChooseMalta.com six years ago and we now

own and manage over 70 destination-specific travel websites. We are currently working on a franchising model to have local experts in different countries as franchisees for the various domains, such as ChooseItaly. com and ChooseDubai.com. I’m not an expert on franchising and I’m also sure that there are better qualified, more successful and experienced local entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, speaking from my limited experience I think that the biggest misconception that one can have when dealing as a franchisor or franchisee is the assumption that if it works in Malta it will work overseas or vice-versa. Like any business proposition there is an element of risk, yet the basic groundwork, franchise or not, has to be done.

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Melo Hili Mr Hili is managing director of Premier Capital Ltd.

I think there is no singular answer to at what stage of its business a company should consider franchising. As is the general case in business, one has to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities and then seize the right ones. Obviously the success of any undertaking is hugely facilitated by having the right people in place – people who are flexible and who can quickly adapt to and improve processes. Franchising is in fact very much about the adoption of processes. Common processes are an intrinsic strength of franchises and help guarantee the delivery of a consistent product of the highest quality. Local insights and integration are hugely important even to companies of the size of McDonald’s. Having a clear understanding of the demands and preferences of a local audience is key. Furthermore understanding the business terrain present in the country one is operating and knowing how to navigate through this can hugely facilitate matters and ensure one is always ready to hit the ground running. This is generally also facilitated by continuously adding to one’s professional network.

The business terrain is constantly changing and one must remain flexible and constantly updated so as to ensure one is seizing all opportunities. 18 - Money / Issue 04

The first franchise is the biggest learning experience as one is starting from nothing – but from there on the learning never really stops. We are currently involved with McDonald’s in four markets across two very distinctly different regions of the world and everyday we learn something new and face new challenges. Processes help deliver a clear and consistent approach – however the business terrain is constantly changing and one must remain flexible and constantly updated so as to ensure one is seizing all opportunities. It is also important not to allow one’s processes to hinder growth and development and one must constantly continue to challenge the status quo. With regards to franchising pitfalls, I don’t think there are general pitfalls that are common to all – I think there are opportunities and threats as in every business venture. The fact is that there is no silver bullet to success and one has to be ready to work as hard, if not harder, than one would in a non-franchised business. In our experience, being part of a company like McDonald’s means we are constantly pushing ourselves to do more and to do better. The up side is that a good franchising partnership can really lead to a fruitful and successful relationship for all involved.


Alex Scicluna Mr Scicluna is chief executive officer of Jubilee Group of Companies. Any company wishing to expand through franchising would require a reproducible product or service and detailed documentation of all the policies and procedures necessary for a potential franchisee to follow successfully. In the case of Café Jubilee, it was only after the bistro concept had been honed and reproduced in three separate locations in Malta and Gozo and seen to function smoothly for several years that the decision to franchise the concept was taken. Although it was seen at the time that Café Jubilee had saturated the local market, this does not have to be a

requirement for a company to seek expansion overseas. Retaining control through a local manager naturally depends on the nature of the franchise agreement that is put in place. In some instances control of the observance of the terms of agreement requires the presence of a local manager, but this is not necessarily always the case. Modern-day technology can be a very useful tool and the provision of back-office services to a franchisee is but one way of achieving this remotely. The first franchise is a glass ceiling that may seem impenetrable before the

Basic types of franchising Investment franchise The franchise owner puts up substantial funds to capitalise on a high-cost franchise system and, although retaining overall strategic management, invariably hires others to manage the franchise outlet. Examples are hotel and restaurant franchises.

Management franchise The franchise owner controls several territories or a region, or manages a team of operatives. Examples are van-based franchises run from regional HQs, depots or hubs.

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first concrete agreement is achieved. Although psychologically it may feel easier after having obtained the first breakthrough, there is no such thing as an easy road in franchising and the formula and brand must be continually improved alongside unstinting efforts to get the brand recognised and weeding out potential successes from time-wasters. To expand beyond Malta, one must feel that the time is right, and this comes only after having followed a tough path of documentation, due diligence and discipline in getting one’s product in perfect order.

Executive franchise The franchise owner runs a one-man, white-collar business involved in areas including financial services, personnel, consultancy or project management. Premises are not vital because work tends to be taken to client premises. Examples are debt and cost control consultancy franchises.

Franchising can be very rewarding once the company overcomes the tendency to operate on an ad hoc basis. Certainly, thorough preparation is fundamental and franchising is not for the faint hearted – the initial investment is substantial, and there is no way of knowing when and if there will be a return on this investment. In business nothing can be taken for granted and the better one prepares and the more one persists, the better the chances of success. Having said that, for the right concept, with thorough preparation and a smidgen of luck, franchising can reward the entrepreneur like no other business model.

Sales and distribution franchise The franchise owner is on the road, selling and/or distributing products in the territory and where other driverdelivery personnel could be hired to cover areas as the customer base grows.

Retail franchise

Mobile servicing (job) franchise

The franchise owner makes a significant investment in commercial property, costly equipment and staff to help operate a high-yield business system, which can often be sold at a profit should the franchise owner wish to retire and capitalise on the investment. Unlike the investment franchise, owner-operators are the norm here. Examples are high street fashion and mobile phone chains.

Source: The Franchise Magazine

The franchise owner makes a lower level of financial investment to buy the right to operate, typically, a man-and-van home-based service, installation and/or repair business in areas like cleaning, motor services or maintenance.


Duel on high street

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Can shopping complexes and high street shops coexist, or are they killing each other off? Veronica Stivala speaks to representatives from shopping complexes and high street shops to find out.

hen I walk into a shopping complex, the rain could be beating down as hard as ever and the wind could be raging outside, but who cares, I can choose from as many shops and brands as I like. Then I can do my grocery shopping and I can have a snack or a meal as I please without having to worry about walking far or braving the elements. And, speaking of nature, if it calls, I know I can easily find a clean facility. Then again, when I walk into my favourite clothes shop on the high street, many times there is more variety of the particular brand that the shop supplies. The fact that it stands alone also gives it more character. Admittedly, choosing between one and the other is not an easy decision as both have their perks. Naturally, there are always two sides to a coin. For example, in a shopping mall, the scenario is always the same in that one is inside the same building. Out on the high street, the scenario is constantly changing and the variety can be entertaining. Understandably, where to shop depends on the shopper. Indeed this is the main point that both the representatives of high street shops and shopping complexes agree on – both can coexist. Although the President of Valletta’s Republic Street Business Community

Paul Fenech says that there are too many shopping complexes and that as a result of this, quality suffers, the other representatives point out that both types of outlets have their advantages. Managing Director of the Embassy and Main Street Complexes, Bettina Azzopardi says, “I would always opt for smaller complexes in the heart of existing shopping destinations where shoppers can drift between the complex and the high street.” Echoing this idea that shoppers like both experiences, Arkadia General Manager Antoine Portelli notes that, “It is just a question of supply, demand, and location. People have different habits and different needs. It is all about the experience.” The most important thing, as Christine Pace, representative of the Sliema Retailers Association, points out, is that “There is the correct environment and a good sense of fair play.”

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Shopping complexes facilities, security and the marketing force that results from having a number of shops pulling the same rope.

Bettina Azzopardi Managing Director, Embassy, Valletta and Main Street, Paola The issue of whether high street shops and shopping malls can coexist is non-existent for Bettina Azzopardi as she says the concept has been tried and tested over decades and has been proven to work. In a densely populated and highly built-up country, the option to go vertical and condense shops into a communal complex makes sense in the light of making the most of space. As Ms Azzopardi puts it, “With premium spaces in the city centres often being limited, it is the obvious way to satisfy the demand by having more floors than just street level.” As a shopper, Ms Azzopardi likes the mix and chooses her shopping destinations according to her mood. Despite the notion that both malls and shops won’t make the other obsolete, Ms Azzopardi draws attention to the benefits that complexes enjoy, including a sheltered environment in times of rain and extreme heat, cleaning

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In comparison with large complexes abroad, like Westfield in London, where you can choose from cars, endless designers, foie gras and truffles, local shopping malls are admittedly limited.

also strive to attract attention in an environment that is already designed to look good.

“On the high street, there is often an interruption of shop facades by neglected buildings while other shops have not changed their image over the years and have hence become outdated and no longer of retail interest to the customer.”

Understandably, this great difference in size in Malta is a reflection of the scale of the country, its inhabitants and tourists too.

Antoine Portelli

Ms Azzopardi does not believe larger complexes that stand alone are the way forward here in Malta as distances are small. “I would always opt for smaller complexes in the heart of existing shopping destinations where shoppers can drift between the complex and the high street,” she says. When asked whether the whole scene may become stereotyped with the rest of the large town image with shopping complexes as opposed to the more attractive individual large and small shops, Ms Azzopardi draws attention to the fact that individual shops are not necessarily more attractive than those in shopping complexes. “I invite you to take a closer look at the Maltese high streets and compare them to the prominent complexes on the island where standards are imposed on the outlets and shops are obliged to maintain the shops, keep abreast of new trends due to the competition among the brands in the complex and

General Manager, Arkadia, Gozo In Mr Portelli’s words, “It is just a question of supply, demand, and location. People have different habits and different needs. It is all about the experience.”

Because people like novelty and variety, the concept of having both high street shops and shopping complexes coexist is a perfectly viable one, if the businesses play their cards right. Antoine Portelli says that, “Customers are continuously searching for new shopping options. At the same time, retailers are continuously searching for retail space to provide customers with the choice they want.” It stands to reason that by both working to make their shops attractive to customers, then shoppers will visit both shops on the high street and in the shopping mall.

An advantage shopping complexes have is that they can provide the extra supply of retail space which, for structural reasons, cannot be extended by the high street. Although one may argue that shopping complexes are, and probably always will be, limited in providing an ‘all-inclusive’ shopping experience, in that the metaphorical ‘everything under the sun’ can never be offered, the glass is still half full for Portelli – precisely because of its diminutive nature and lower number of customers, the shopping complex can adapt and cater for the individual’s personal whims and needs. As he puts it, “The flexibility of our business model provides us with the opportunity to offer what is requested by the market.”


High Street shops Christine Pace Sliema Retailers Association “Keeping shopping complexes and individual high street shops on their toes with the right amount of competition is, naturally, the best possible scenario for maintaining quality and variety in retail,” says Christine Pace, representative of the Sliema Retailers Association. “The most important thing is that there is the correct environment and a good sense of fair play,” she says. The corollary to this is that shoppers are presented with a good mix of products. In this way, they can find different products in both ‘areas’. Such variety in the different venues hopefully results in strong footfall, that is, a large number of people visiting the shops. In the light of this, Ms Pace does not believe that shopping complexes pose a threat to individual shops. “If an individual shop offers a good product and service, this should not be the case,” she says. What challenges does she find shopping complexes present high street shops? “A shopping complex can offer very positive challenges. High street retailers have to change their individual one-shop mentality and grasp the opportunity to unite as one major force to offer their customers a better all-round package. “Challenges in reality work both ways, it always depends on the shopping experience consumers get.” Continuing with the fact that both malls and individual shops can both survive without killing off each other, Ms Pace says she is in favour of the building of bigger shopping complexes which would provide the shopper with even more products as long as they are not only populated with shops but also with varied forms of entertainment in order to attract families and shoppers of all ages.

High street retailers have to change their individual one-shop mentality and grasp the opportunity to unite as one major force to offer their customers a better all-round package.

Paul Fenech President, Valletta’s Republic Street Business Community Paul Fenech believes the country has too many retail outlets and that a result of this, quality suffers. “When there is not sufficient business for such an influx of shops, quality and service will suffer,” says Mr Fenech. When asked to pinpoint whether individual shops or retail complexes fare better than the other, Mr Fenech noted that very often it depends on shoppers’ habits. Needless to say, high street shops are popular due to the large choice of goods they offer which shopping complexes cannot always present.

26 - Money / Issue 04

When there is not sufficient business for such an influx of shops, quality and service will suffer. Mr Fenech notes that similar to other countries, in Malta, shopping complexes are not very popular with the public. However, despite this, Mr Fenech admits that combined marketing and promotions do pose a challenge to the individual shops.


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Being of service Gino Cutajar outlines the services that the Malta Chamber provides to retailers.

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Mr Cutajar is Chairman, Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

Representation at European level is assured through Malta Chamber’s affiliation with the two leading business organisations in Europe, Businesseurope and Eurochambres.

he services offered to the retailing sector have been consolidated ever since the merger process undergone by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry (Malta Chamber). These are co-ordinated through the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group which is one of the three pillars of the Malta Chamber and which I currently have the honour to Chair. One of the key services that the Malta Chamber provides to its members in retailing is that of representation. The Malta Chamber plays an active role in safeguarding the interests of retailers and in cultivating mutual understanding between Government, unions and other employer organisations. More often than not, the needs and problems of individual retailers are common and shared by others. This is, therefore, where collective representations by the Malta Chamber can have a greater and more effective impact than individual representations. The Malta Chamber offers representation on local and European issues of direct interest to members which include: competition and regulatory policy; corporate social responsibility; economic and fiscal policy; employment, industrial relations and human resources development; energy and environmental policy; enterprise policy; innovation policy; and trade and SME policy. Representation at European level is assured through Malta Chamber’s affiliation with the two leading business organisations in Europe, Businesseurope and Eurochambres. Through this membership the Malta Chamber is regularly updated on European Union

policy and legislative developments, and the voice of Maltese business can be made heard at European level when these organisations are formulating their respective policies and positions. A second key service provided by the Malta Chamber to retailers is that of consultation with the authorities and the social partners. The successful development of Malta’s business community necessitates dialogue between the three social partners – employers’ organisations, Government and the unions – because business development and expansion depend on the maintenance of an investment climate within which enterprise can operate freely and effectively. To perform this important role the Malta Chamber is represented on a number of national boards including the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, Malta Enterprise, the Malta Standards Authority and the Malta College for Science and Technology. A third important service that the Malta Chamber provides to retailers is that of information. The Malta Chamber circulates to members business opportunities and trade enquiries received from businessmen abroad wishing to appoint agents in or wanting to initiate trade relations with Malta. The Malta Chamber’s small research department also offers members advice on economic and trade conditions at home and abroad. The Malta Chamber regularly holds information meetings on issues of concern. These meetings are organised either exclusively for members or in collaboration with other entities such as ETC, MEUSAC, Malta Enterprise, Malta Standards Authority, or the Malta Business Bureau.

Money / Issue 04 - 31


As part of its education and business development initiatives, the Malta Chamber holds seminars on topical subjects. Finally the Malta Chamber staff is always available for any queries members may have, and are well equipped to assist members in answering these queries, and through its various contacts, guiding members to the competent authority or organisation when necessary. The main media used by the Malta Chamber to communicate with its members are: the weekly ChamberLink newsletter which is restricted to members only; the bi-monthly mouthpiece of the Malta Chamber, The Commercial Courier, that is widely distributed both locally and abroad; and the annual Malta Trade Directory that lists members and their business activities, allowing direct memberto-member contact and providing opportunities internationally. From time to time, the Malta Chamber also issues special reports and policy papers. It also regularly issues press releases, opinion pieces and other articles to convey specific messages to the general public through the news media. Last, but certainly not least, the Malta Chamber has invested heavily in a modern website which, besides containing a wealth of information, is regularly kept up-to-date with all the information featured in the other publications. A fourth important service provided by the Malta Chamber to retailers is that of internationalisation. This desk provides information on internationalisation, co-operates with Government entities in organising incoming and outgoing business missions and trade delegations, and offers hands-on assistance to members as in the case of the franchise project.

32 - Money / Issue 04

The Malta Chamber believes that franchising of systems is ideally suited for Maltese business in their plans for expansion abroad. This project is aimed at local business exporting their own concept, or an international franchise. There is macro-economic benefit if local entrepreneurs pursue this strategy which is congruent with national policy of a knowledge-based economy propelled by export-led growth. The support offered by the Malta Chamber so far shall deliver training and basic templates of manuals, agreements and checklists. Additional Government funding, which the Malta Chamber is insisting about, would assist in rendering these templates more sector-specific, or company-specific – depending on the level of funding. Retailers form an important part of the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group. The group is run by a six-person Executive Board that is directly elected by the members every two years. Full representation is then assured by having the board members automatically sitting on the Council which is responsible for the management of the business of the Malta Chamber. The Importers, Distributors and Retailers Executive Board meets regularly in order to discuss the shared concerns of the sector, as well as the creation of initiatives in order to promote the interests of the sector. The board has set itself a number of aims which include: ensuring a fair competitive environment amongst all operators; working towards greater efficiency in public procurement procedures; and striving towards a rationalisation of Governmentinduced costs. There are a number of Business Sections operating under the umbrella of the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group. These are groups of members, falling within the same Economic Group and

usually having the same business interests, who associate themselves in a Business Section to represent the interests of their particular business. Business Sections operate through directly elected Executive Committees that report to the Economic Group Executive Board. At present the Economic Group has business sections of health care, importers, wines, spirits, beverages and tobacco. Very concerned at the implications on Valletta based retailers and other businesses during the rehabilitation process of our capital city, the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group teamed up with the Merchants Street Business Community Association, the Republic Street Business Community Association and the Valletta Alive Foundation to set up the Valletta Business Community Committee. This committee has gathered the support of several hundred businesses operating in Valletta to make representations to the authorities to mitigate some of the most important problems being faced at present, most notably those related to restricted vehicular access and parking. The Malta Chamber offers its members in retailing a wide portfolio of services and the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Executive Board is always striving to proactively develop this package further to ensure that it remains always relevant and useful to its retail members.

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Supporting

micro

enterprises Micro enterprises are being encouraged to invest and reduce their tax bill through the MicroInvest scheme and the European Investment Fund, says Chris Galea, Malta Enterprise.

B

usinesses which form the backbone of the Maltese economy, namely microenterprises which employ less than 10 workers, are being encouraged to invest to expand, develop and innovate and in so doing benefit from a tax credit that will knock off up to €25,000 from their tax bill. Barring a few exceptions, practically all Maltese businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises, with over 95 per cent falling within the micro-enterprises category. The MicroInvest scheme is specifically aimed at these enterprises in the belief that by innovating and expanding their business, they would create further opportunities for themselves, contribute more to the economy, and possibly generate employment while doing so. Under the MicroInvest scheme, eligible enterprises – which must have an annual turnover which does not exceed €2 million and which also include the self-employed – will benefit from a tax

credit based on the amount they invest in their business, up to a maximum value corresponding to 40 per cent of the eligible expenses. Gozitan enterprises have been given an additional bonus in view of the island’s double insularity which often places businesses in Gozo at a disadvantage. Indeed, under the scheme they can benefit from a reduction in their tax bill amounting to 60 per cent of the eligible expenses. In both cases, the capping of the tax credit has been set at €25,000. Expenses eligible for tax credits under this incentive include: furbishing and upgrading of business premises for improved operations; machinery or technologies to improve operations; machinery or technologies which save or generate energy; investments which enable compliance with regulations, including Health & Safety, Environment Directives and Physical Access; wage costs for new jobs created and/or apprenticeships taken; and cost of one commercial vehicle as long as such vehicle is involved in the transport of goods.

The investments have to be made between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011, while the applications have to be submitted to Malta Enterprise once a year, after the costs have been incurred. As part of the support given to small and medium enterprises, another scheme to facilitate their access to finance is being prepared, namely the Micro Credit scheme. An expression of interest was launched by the European Investment Fund – which shall provide the resources – to select financial intermediaries that will administer resources allocated through the Jeremie framework in order to assist micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with November 15, 2010 as its deadline for submissions. The Jeremie framework is an initiative of the European Commission specifically aimed at providing a series of coherent actions to promote increased access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Once the selection process and the preparatory work is completed, the Micro Credit scheme will set up a fund of almost €10 million for the benefit of micro, small and medium enterprises, who could be granted loans of up to €25,000 at advantageous interest rates. For further information on the MicroInvest scheme or to download the application form, visit www.incentives. maltaenterprise.com or call Malta Enterprise on Tel: 2542 0000. Further information on the Micro Credit scheme expression of interest published by the EIF is available at www.eif.org.

Money / Issue 04 - 35


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36 - Money / Issue 04

Vodafone, Malta has introduced the new BlackBerry® Curve™ 3G, an exciting addition to the globally popular BlackBerry Curve series of smartphones for customers in Malta. Designed to provide the growing mass of smartphone purchasers with a distinct and powerful, approachable and affordable choice, the BlackBerry Curve 3G supports high-speed 3G (HSDPA) networks around the world and gives users the exceptional communications features they need to accomplish more than ever, when they’re at home, at work and everywhere in-between. The BlackBerry Curve 3G is available from Vodafone stores starting from €50 per month on a Smartphone postpaid plan. To learn more about this BlackBerry smartphone visit www.vodafone.com.mt/blackberry or call at one of Vodafone’s retail outlets.


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Ms Vella is a Senior Information Officer at the Consumer and Competition Division.

Reading the fine print The retail experience is packaged with rights and obligations for both consumer and trader, says Odette Vella.

C

onsumers are becoming more conscious about their legal rights – they are aware of the powerful role they play when they go out shopping and usually use this power to ensure that they get good value for their money. Price is certainly not the only factor that determines value, and most consumers know this. To win over their competitors and gain consumer confidence, traders need first of all to know what their legal obligations are, and secondly they need to set good customer care policies that ensure that their customers get what is rightfully theirs and even more.

Traders selling goods to customers have specific legal obligations. The Consumer Affairs Act stipulates that traders should deliver goods which are in conformity with the description and specifications in the contract of sale. In other words, the goods consumers buy should comply with the description given by the trader and possess the characteristics, features and qualities which the trader has promised or shown through a sample. Sold goods should also be fit for the particular purpose for which the consumer requires them and which they had actually informed the trader during the sale. Besides this, goods should also be fit for all their normal purposes. Should traders fail to provide goods that are in conformity with what was agreed to during the sale, or should the goods sold result faulty, then traders are liable to provide a remedy. In such a scenario, the consumer’s rights are either to have the problematic goods repaired or replaced, or else to a part or full refund of the money paid for the product. Regarding these remedies the law also states that unless they are impossible or disproportionate, repair or replacement should be the first remedies to be opted for. The inconvenience of the consumer is also taken into account. In fact, if the remedy chosen by traders results significantly inconvenient to the consumer, the consumer may either require an appropriate reduction of the price or else have the sale cancelled and thus claim back all the money paid. The latter does not apply if the lack of conformity is minor or insignificant. The trader’s obligation to provide a remedy remains valid if the lack of conformity becomes apparent within

two years from the delivery of the goods. If within this period of time a problem arises with the purchased product, the two years are suspended for the duration of the negotiations carried on between the trader and the consumer with the aim of reaching an amicable settlement. To be eligible for these legal remedies, consumers have the obligation to notify the trader in writing within two months from the date on which the lack of conformity was discovered. The law also stipulates that if the goods have been purchased for less than six months when the consumer brings them back to the trader because of their lack of conformity, it shall be automatically presumed that the lack of conformity existed at the time of delivery. If the trader does not agree it will then be up to them to prove otherwise. If on the other hand the consumer had the goods for more than six months when the problem crops up, the consumer can still ask the trader to repair or replace them, but at this point it may be up to the consumer to prove that the goods were faulty at the time of purchase.

Money / Issue 04 - 39


The goods consumers buy should comply with the description given by the trader. Consumer law specifically holds retailers as legally responsible to provide redress when goods either go wrong or are not as agreed to. This is so even if retailers give their customers commercial guarantees that name the agent or manufacturer as the guarantor. The manufacturer becomes legally liable if the purchased product turns out to be unsafe and consumers are either injured or have suffered material damages due to the defective product. The legal obligation to provide free of charge remedies does not apply when the problem is due to the fact that the consumer either changed their mind or made a wrong buying decision. In these situations retailers may apply their own return policies and show their customers that they care. Retailers may for instance offer the possibility to exchange wrongly chosen items. Offering a credit note or money refund is obviously even better. Consumers do appreciate and value good customer care and not only do they become loyal customers but also spread the word and encourage families and friends to purchase from these establishments. Customers should be correctly informed about when and what returns’ policies apply. In this way traders ensure that there are no misunderstandings and that all their customers are treated equally. If or when such policies are amended, such as for instance during sales periods, it is important that consumers are notified about these changes. Failing to do so may generate bad feeling and can even destroy a company’s good reputation. Traders should also know that when their customers buy goods at reduced prices they have exactly the same legal rights as when they pay full price. When prices are reduced because the goods are damaged or shop soiled, traders should point these out to their buyers and inform them that they cannot complain later about the same defects. Any business-to-consumer transaction imposes specific responsibilities that are in the interest of both parties to be aware of and observe. Ignorance of these responsibilities may result in waste of money by the consumer and the trader may face unpleasant legal consequences. Traders who do not adhere to their legal obligations can also put at risk their reputation and this may result in fewer customers and loss of profit. This article is intended for information purposes only. Any legal claim or action taken in the event of a dispute should be based solely on the legal texts concerned. For further information you can call the Consumer and Competition Division on Freephone 8007 4400.

40 - Money / Issue 04


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Mr Busuttil is a Chartered Marketer and the Director General of the Malta Association of Credit Management. MACM is a not-for-profit organisation providing a central national organisation for the promotion and protection of all credit interest pertaining to Maltese businesses. MACM is the distributor of Graydon International Credit Reports in Malta.

Getting ahead When managed responsibly, trade credit can help the Maltese retailer gain and sustain competitive advantage, says Josef Busuttil.

I

n today’s commerce, trade credit is the oil that keeps the wheel turning. Buy now, pay later encourages more sales as it allows time for the buyer to add value or service to the goods and resell the (semi-) finished product before paying for the supplies. This makes credit not only a valuable factor but also a significant one throughout the supply chain. Hence, it definitely applies to the retail industry which has a major role in the supply chain. Retailers are working in a fierce competitive environment. They strive to satisfy the needs of consumers who are becoming more demanding and knowledgeable. From the comfort of their homes, consumers are using technology to shop around the world before making their purchases. They can compare product features, warranties and prices online. They can place an order to buy from a seller residing anywhere in the world,pay for the order and receive their purchased products at home in no time. This means that the Maltese retailer is now competing not only with other local peers but also with other sellers from all over the world. Therefore, the local retailer makes every effort to gain and sustain competitive advantage in the market. This compels

the retailer to provide better value to consumers in a consistent manner, which very often involves investing in attractive and modern outlets, offering better products, increasing marketing costs, lowering prices and providing good customer service in order to stay ahead of local and international competition. Thus, retailers can protect their market share. But money costs money. Investing in the retail business to improve the dayto-day operation does not come for free. To finance the investment required in order to improve their business and their dayto-day business operation, retailers have a number of options and sources. However, the preferred source of finance for retailers is trade suppliers (trade credit) – buying goods and services on credit, as this is less bureaucratic and costs much less than any banking facility. There is nothing wrong with trade credit as long as it is well evaluated and responsibly granted. Retailers should never request more credit than they can afford or more than their business operation can sustain. On the other hand, trade suppliers should analyse the credit worthiness of their customers (retailers) before granting or extending them credit.

Trade credit should only be granted or extended against a clearly written document duly signed by both parties – the retailer and the trade supplier. This document, commonly referred to as Credit Application Form, should include not only the conditions of sale but also the payment terms as agreed by both parties. A credit application form serves as a contract of sale between the supplier and the retailer and also as a basis to analyse the credit worthiness of the prospective customer. A sample of a credit application form is available from MACM through its website www.macm.org.mt. Retailers should never perceive the credit application form as bureaucratic, intrusive or officious in any way and should cooperate wholeheartedly with their suppliers when served with such document. Completing and signing a credit application document upon a trade credit request would ensure sound cash flow and secure long-term profit for both parties. Additionally, a written credit agreement, duly signed by the two parties, would help to build and maintain long-term business relationship since it would prevent future disputes. If a credit sale transaction lacks clear and written payment terms, what evidence of the agreed credit terms would there be if any dispute arises in the future? It would be a case of the supplier’s word against the customer’s. These circumstances would harm the business relationship between the two parties and both parties would lose business and money, especially if legal proceedings would be necessary. When credit is granted, retailers should be aware of the payment terms as agreed with the suppliers, interest and charges which may apply due to late payments, discounts for early payments, and retention of title, if applicable. These agreed conditions and terms should be clearly stated in the credit agreement document. If trade credit is granted and extended responsibly by making use of proper credit management documents and by deploying good credit management practices, both the suppliers and the retailers would benefit. Proper credit analysis, monitoring and control management would also help to identify any credit defaults at an early stage and take the appropriate action proactively. Besides, good credit management practices and control at the start of a credit relationship between a supplier and a retailer would help to review and monitor that relationship and both businesses would then reap benefits in terms of good business relationship, sound cash flow and better profit.

Money / Issue 04 - 43


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Investor protection Before making any investment decisions, you must be equipped for any eventualities, says Mark Hollingsworth.

The collapse of certain Icelandic banks in 2008 is still very fresh and severe lessons have been learned by savers who have deposited their savings with banks that offer headline-grabbing interest rates.

T

here is no doubt that the internet has opened the floodgates for potential investment scams. Socalled boiler room cold calling is commonplace and involves unlicensed financial consultants recommending investment products that offer no protection of capital. Sadly, many individuals, often those who cannot take financial risks, are taken in by these practices with serious financial consequences. Before making any investment decisions, certain steps should be taken to quantify the advice and recommendations being received. Certain questions should be asked and backed up in writing before parting with your life savings. A legitimate investment recommendation

must be supported by facts and you must be aware of the complaints procedure in the event that things unfortunately go wrong. You must be fully armed and prepared for all eventualities. You invest with the expectation of making a profit over time. By seeking professional advice from licensed institutions, you are taking the right first steps. If things go wrong then you have the peace of mind that Malta has a very strong regulatory framework which is committed to supporting aggrieved investors. All license holders are required to have Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover any claims and investors can be reassured that investing through a Maltese firm offers strong levels of protection.

Licensed and regulated advisors If a firm claims to be offering you investment advice but is not authorised to do so, then this should be an obvious reason not to proceed. A list of license holders can be found on the MFSA’s website, www.mfsa.com.mt. There are approximately 75 license holders whose services include banking, insurance and investments. The category of the license holder is also very important as this can determine amongst other things whether the firm can handle a client’s money or can act with a delegated authority.

Investor protection Are you aware of your rights if the advice that you have received turns out to be inappropriate or deemed bad advice? Can you make a claim against the firm and do they have adequate professional indemnity insurance to settle any potential claims? We are very fortunate to have a specialist complaints unit within the MFSA whose role is to handle any consumer complaints. The unit also provides an education platform to assist both existing and potential investors. During 2009, the unit received 324 written complaints, 90 of which related to investments. In addition there were 39 verbal complaints and 147 consumer queries relating to investments. The role of the MFSA as arbitrator cannot be underestimated with a freephone helpline and dedicated consumer website www.mymoneybox.mfsa.com.mt as examples of the regulators commitment to helping investors.

Bank Protection scheme Bank account holders in Malta are protected in the event that their bank fails up to â‚Ź100,000. The need to spread your cash deposits across more than one bank is therefore advisable if your cash wealth exceeds this limit. The collapse of certain Icelandic banks in 2008 is still very fresh and severe lessons have been learned by savers who have deposited their savings with banks that offer headlinegrabbing interest rates.

Experience of the individual providing advice How long has the advisor been in the industry and what are their industry qualifications? An advisor should be able to provide you with their professional qualifications and adequate experience cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, salesman often from the US or Asia regularly contact potential investors to buy into stocks with great enthusiasm. Such unsolicited actions often result in individuals entering into contracts that are worthless, buying more and more shares as the share price supposedly rockets. When attempting to recover your gains, the salesman has disappeared along with your savings. If you wish to speculate on the stock market then obtain professional advice and support and never act on the basis of a hot tip from a stranger.

Money / Issue 04 - 45


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From the starting line Entrepreneurship is about passion, tenacity and business shrewdness, says Peter Sant. Mr Sant is an Economic Research Officer EU Affairs at Bank of Valletta plc.

S

etting up your own business and developing its activity requires human, management and financial resources.

It is a known fact that about 50 per cent of businesses fail in the first three to four years from the commencement of their operations. This is why you should never be in a hurry – only when you have developed the ideal formula can you scale up. You also need to take calculated risks, but grow slowly. The European Commission has developed 10 steps that can assist in developing a viable business. This checklist for aspiring entrepreneurs suggests that you should do it for passion not for money – things don’t happen overnight, so do something you feel passionate about. Also, do something you know about. Successful businesses are usually very different from those described in their original business plan. Try something and if it isn’t working, try it a different way. The key is not to give up too early. The hard work is up to you and your team. Having a mentor can be a huge

support and can help you see the wood from the trees. With regards to funding, businesses often spend too much time and money chasing the wrong form of funding from the wrong people with inappropriate terms and then raise too little. As for cash management, manage cash well – ensure you have appropriate forecasts and monitor against expectations. Build sales before anything else. A lot of people spend too much time getting things such as an exorbitant design instead of getting out there and closing a sale. Don’t try to rush and be wary of bad advice and suppliers. When cash is tight, you don’t want to get locked in with the wrong suppliers or taking bad advice. Asking a friend can be fatal at times. Keep things at a variable cost. In the early stages, particularly when you are a small business, you don’t want to get caught into anything you can’t get out of easily. Presently, there is a considerable number of incentives and grant schemes available to assist Maltese SMEs.

MicroInvest Tax Credits for Micro Enterprises and the Self-Employed supports micro enterprises and the self-employed that invest in their business, innovate, expand, implement compliance directives and/or develop their operations. Enterprises and selfemployed will be supported through a tax credit representing a percentage of the eligible expenditure and wages of newly recruited employees and/or apprentices. Another incentive is the €20 Million for Industry, which includes investment in competitiveness, start-up, innovation, environment, e-Business and research and development. The Philoxenia project aims to establish a minimum of 18 new microenterprises in the rural localities in Malta and Gozo while the ETC Training Aid Framework offers financial assistance to companies investing in the training of their workforce. Another ETC programme is the Employment Aid Programme, which provides financial assistance to employers deploying new employees by generously subsidising employees’ salaries and the contribution to the employee’s National Insurance.

Money / Issue 04 - 49


Under cover There are various types of insurance available for retailers, says Andrew Falzon.

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owadays most insurance companies offer complete business insurance solutions to provide cover against losses arising from many different causes. Products range from a basic package policy to bespoke cover for the individual business requirements. Mr Falzon is Senior Executive Manager with Middlesea Insurance plc. Middlesea Insurance plc. (C-5553) is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to carry on both Long Term and General Business under the Insurance Business Act, 1998. COM 041110 510.

Cover is generally available for buildings, trade contents and trade stock against loss, destruction or damage by fire, lightning, explosion, storm, tempest, flood, bursting of water tanks or pipes, earthquake, impact, riot, strikes, civil commotion, malicious acts, theft and hold-up. Most insurers also provide the possibility to upgrade cover to accidental loss or damage to the property insured. Cover is also available for business interruption – this is intended to protect the business owner against loss of income that the business may suffer as a result of a loss insured under the policy. Another cover is for employers’ liability, which protects the employer from liabilities arising from disease, fatality, or injury to employees resulting from workplace conditions or practices.

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Public liability protects the business from liabilities arising from bodily injury or property damage to third parties resulting

from the business operations, while cover for goods in transit protects the goods appertaining to the business against loss destruction or damage whilst in transit from one place to another including loading and unloading. Money (including personal injury by assault) covers from the time of receipt until disposed of whilst in transit in the personal custody of the business owner of his authorised employees. The deterioration of stock cover protects stock in cold storage against loss destruction or damage resulting from a rise or fall in temperature as a direct result of damage to or an inherent defect in the refrigerator, escape of refrigerant fumes or the accidental failure of the public supply of electricity. Other covers may be purchased depending on individual needs. The important thing is to check the terms, conditions and exclusions of the insurance to ensure that these are in accordance with your requirements. Needless to say one should look out for an insurance company that has reputation, experience and a professional approach.

Money / Issue 04 - 51


News from the board room Natuzzi announces financial results The Board of Directors of Natuzzi S.p.A., Italy’s largest furniture manufacturer and world’s leading manufacturer of leather-upholstered furniture, announced its financial results for the second quarter and first six months of 2010.

See the light VCT, the lighting and electrical specialist, has opened a new showroom just a few metres away from its former premises in Ponsomby Street, Mosta. Officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, the larger showroom allows VCT to display a growing selection of light fittings and installations. VCT stocks 30 European brands, including Fabasluce and Voltolina. Three brands of LED, halogen and energy-efficient lamps are permanently in stock besides a wide range of indoor, outdoor and inground light fittings, tungsten halogen, metal halide, sodium vapour and filament lamps, fluorescent tubes, and studio lamps for theatre lighting. VCT has been awarded the Customer Service Quality Mark for the third consecutive year.

In the second quarter of 2010, upholstery net sales were €130.9 million, up 12.0 per cent as compared to the second quarter of 2009. Total net sales were €145.2 million, up 8.7 per cent as compared to the same period of 2009 while the industrial margin was €54.6 million, versus €50.5 million recorded in the second quarter of 2009. Operating Income was €2.2 million, as compared to €1.1 million for the same period of 2009. Net group loss was €2.8 million versus a loss of €3.9 million recorded in the same quarter of 2009. The positive net cash position was of €49 million. In the second quarter, total net sales were €145.2 million, an increase of 8.7 per cent as compared to corresponding period of 2009. Upholstery net sales were €130.9 million, up 12.0 per cent as compared to the same period of 2009. Industrial margin was €54.6 million, showing an increase of 8.1 per cent versus the same quarter of 2009. The increase of volumes sold and the major internal efficiencies enabled the group to offset the consequences of significant increases in raw material costs, in particular leather. Transportation costs were negatively influenced by a significant increase in freight fares. At the same time, an increase in terms of sales commissions was recorded due to the better performance in terms of sales.

New head office building for APS Bank APS Bank has just inaugurated the APS Centre in Swatar, Birkirkara as part of its ongoing centenary celebrations. Laid out on over 7,000 square metres of floor space, this landmark building houses the bank’s various core operational units with more than 120 employees working in modern and spacious offices on four floors with underground parking. The building also includes a branch office offering all the retail and commercial services of the bank, as well as an ATM machine accessible 24/7 at street level. During the opening ceremony, APS Bank’s chairman Prof. Emanuel P. Delia expressed the management’s satisfaction at reaching this important milestone in the bank’s 100-year history. The Minister of Finance, Economy and Investment, Hon. Tonio Fenech, congratulated APS Bank and augured that the improved facilities will aid in further expansion and development of the bank over the coming years. Similar feelings were also expressed by H.G. Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P. who addressed the guests and blessed the premises.

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Location, location, location SkyParks Business Centre is the ideal location for any multi-national company that wants to make the most out of its working environment and business operations. Situated next to Malta International Airport, the Business Centre provides its tenants with first class facilities, including a gym, a childcare centre, a restaurant area, and two floors of underground parking. Offering 11,000 m² of rentable office space with open plan layouts, the nine-level building boasts high quality design and green practices. For enquires send an email on info@skyparksbusiness.com or visit www.skyparksbusiness.com.


New executive chef at Phoenicia Hotel Bernd Maier is the Phoenicia Hotel’s new executive chef. In this position, Bernd is responsible for the Phoenicia Hotel’s kitchens, restaurants and banqueting. After working in Michelin star and Gault Millau-awarded restaurants and hotels, Bernd moved to Malta in 2007 to set up a new restaurant in Palazzo Parisio, Naxxar. This venture eventually developed into the Luna Collection, including Caffé Luna and Luna di Sera, one of the finest dining venues in Malta. “I like to do things differently and I hate copying others,” says Bernd, who is busy preparing new menus for the Phoenicia Hotel. Charles Azzopardi, Phoenicia Hotel General Manager, says “I am convinced that with his experience, drive and passion for food, Bernd will take our food quality to new heights.”

Francis Sultana opens showroom This autumn, Francis Sultana opens his eponymous showroom, launches a namesake furniture collection, and offers a personalised bespoke services division giving an opportunity to acquire outstanding 20th and 21st century design. Francis Sultana will showcase his own collections as well as a carefully curated selection of antiques, art-furniture, luxurious textiles and signature accessories. Through Sultana’s expertise in the decorative and applied arts, clients will now have access to purchase outstanding pieces and commission unique works

of design with international artists and designers including Zaha Hadid, Mattia Bonetti, Fredrikson Stallard, Barnaby Barford, and Oriel Harwood. 2010 also sees the launch of Francis Sultana Editions, with two exquisitely crafted collections of furniture and accessories Fusing a patron’s taste and aspirations with his sophisticated vision, Sultana curates the ambience in outstanding homes and conceives striking interiors. Francis Sultana Ltd is located at 60 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HH. For more information visit www.francissultana.com.

Midi wins prestigious Ruban D’Honneur Midi plc stepped ahead of tough competition to be selected for a prestigious Ruban d’Honneur in round two of the European Business Awards sponsored by HSBC. Receiving a Ruban d’Honneur is an impressive achievement and celebrates businesses which demonstrate exceptional performance within their sector. Midi plc will now compete as a finalist within The Infosys Business of the Year Award (below €60 million) category and hopefully win the ultimate prize of a European Business Award. Midi was one of just 90 European firms from 26 different countries to receive a Ruban d’Honneur and will be at the glittering Awards final at The Westin, Paris, on November 16. The Ruban d’Honneur is awarded to up to 10 successful entrants in each category.

Images that speak Avantech, in collaboration with Canon, is bringing you We Speak Image, an event organised for the benefit of Malta’s professional photographic community and all those passionate about photography. The event will be held on November 22, at 6:00pm, at the Intercontinental Malta, St George’s Bay. We Speak Image is an equipment demo and Q&A session by Ferenc Torok, a product intelligence professional with 15 years experience in Canon’s Photo Division. During the event, you will be the first to learn about new and upcoming technologies and network with the best in the business. Attendees will automatically be entered in the draw to win a €500 voucher redeemable against any Canon product from Avantech. For more information about the event and details on how to register go to www.canonmalta.com/ WeSpeakImage or call on Tel: 2148 8800.

Money / Issue 04 - 53


Mr Mifsud is a director of a marketing communications agency and holds an MBA from SDA Bocconi, Milan.

The name is bond Branding creates a bond which is based on a unique and personal channel between products and customers, says Chris Mifsud.

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t’s easy to forget what the term ‘branding’ really means and where it came from, in an age when terms like brand equity, brand positioning and brand value are freely thrown around like so much stale bread to a flock of pigeons. Mind you, not that we’re in short supply of self-proclaimed communications gurus. However, to really consider the obvious and not so obvious processes at play within the retail branding scene, we need to forget about such terms and take it back a notch. The word ‘brand’ arouses a much forgotten primitive use related to, of all things, livestock. Originally, it meant nothing more than a unique visual that put a permanent claim to a hoofed asset. But hang on, has this changed? As always in life, one finds that the general principles will remain the same, but the tools and terminology will differ. The crux here lies behind the most gloriously treasured dimension to this popular term that we call branding – uniqueness.

Well, enough bull now. Let’s talk about cows. Livestock all looks the same to you? Not quite sure who Daisy belongs too? That’s not an issue any more. With a white-hot magic wand Daisy now sports a unique symbol and character code that instantly proclaim to the audience that Daisy is Daisy. Nothing more than a fleeting moment of attention from our cowboy, a few minutes of pain, and problem solved. Today? Well let’s just say it’s a little more intricate. Not different mind you, just intricate. Let’s go back to Daisy for just one second. Why was it so important to leave a perpetual mark on her? Was she not feeling appreciated around the farm, or was she disappointed with her staff appraisal report? Well, no. The problem was that Daisy was not that different from her other thousand or so colleagues. She didn’t have any distinguishing mannerism. Ergo the need for a manmade distinguishing factor. The modern market place isn’t that dissimilar. In an era of commoditisation, many heavily brand oriented products and services rely more and more on their emotional

bond with their customer rather than product differentiation. Think of the true commodity and the products (in their raw form) from where this term originated – rice, sugar, coffee beans, salt. Now look around you today – the intrinsic difference between products on the shelves in front of us is likely to be less than we think. Same goes for a mobile phone service, bank, even cars, which today are converging to offer basically similar platforms. The gaps are closing. Right? Well, yes and no. Enter our investment in branding. Take your generic product. Associate it with a particular colour, tone, design, shape, symbol, and ideology. Now you’re different. Better? Perhaps, perhaps not. But different or unique? Absolutely. Because no matter what many skeptics will stoically claim, when we buy any item off the shelf or otherwise, we are not simply satisfying our cold hard utility. Rather, we are also buying into what the object represents to us, what images it evokes in our mind, what we are trying to portray ourselves to be, the promises it makes and above all the image we perceive the item to project onto our minds.

Money / Issue 04 - 55


And this is not just about a pretty façade. We buy into a proposition because our brains are hardwired into computing a logical decision-making process based on where we want to arrive as human beings. So the brand of olive oil I choose off a shelf defines who I am, the cynics might cry? Not exactly. Let’s imagine that we have two competing base products that on a product level are at a generic par. Our decision-making then falls on other differentiating criteria, such as how reminiscent is the packaging of the object to its origin, what does the name tell us about its origin, and how satisfying is any imagery associated with it in my association of the item with the positive attributes I seek? And last and most definitely not least, how does all this fall into place with who I am and how I want to live my life? Testimony to this basic belief is the fact that companies in heavily commoditised sectors, telecommunications to name one, are firm believers in communicating an emotional promise to their audience and create a bond which is based on a unique and personal channel between them and their customers, a bond that withstands the test of time, price and copious amounts of free SMS messages. No better arena to illustrate the power of branding than in our supermarkets. Row upon row of bottles, cans, jars and boxes, all promising a unique claim to fame in exchange for a small slice of your disposable income. And why do we notice this? Because we consciously and subconsciously associate a colour, bottle shape, logo, image, look, feel and even sound to each and every particular brand. My research reveals that a local supermarket stocks 32 different brands of olive oil. Firstly, kudos to them for offering such a choice and secondly, how different are these olive oils to each other? Probably not so much (why would ‘virgin’ need ‘extra’ in front of it – isn’t it an absolute term?) but each brand has dedicated time and resources to attaching to their raw product a promise

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that delivers the quality, structure and attributes of the product that the company believes its proposition is founded upon.

Each brand rings a unique bell that peals at a specific tone that has you associating images, feelings, emotions at the mere mention of the brand name. Of course it’s not just about devising a fancy colour scheme and tone of voice to the product. The ultimate success is also dependent on how much investment one throws at getting this magical mix of brand ingredients across to its audience. How many TV ads can I afford to run? Which sports personalities can I afford to endorse? How can I design better pointof-sale initiatives? In keeping with the retail arena, mammoth brand owners the likes of Procter & Gamble and Unilever spring to mind. Few other FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brand owners have pioneered branding strategy more than these contenders, and indeed populated countless case studies in marketing text books around the globe. Their recipe for this undisputed success in the retail marketplace is elementary. Their products deliver a consistent, positive message through a well thought out brand identity that is present everywhere and all the time at every customer touch point, as a result of a significant but well-planned investment in a myriad of branding exercises. That’s what branding does. And the product? Well the product then has to deliver on the promise.

Gillette, Dove, Ariel, Knorr, Pantene – ring any bells? Sure they do, and each brand rings a unique bell that peals at a specific tone that has you associating images, feelings, emotions at the mere mention of the brand name. What goes for international brands goes for local brands too. The playing field is level – local brands are most likely to leverage their closeness to home, adaptability to local tastes and freshness. But all this is still communicated by the brand’s identity, uniquely created to portray all this and more and then sent out on the market place to ensure that it reaches us all. The result of this investment is to create the brand equity that each product deserves and clinch a rightful place in the shopping audience’s mind. So brand owners are the ones packaging a promise that they design their products to deliver at the retail place and on consumption. They own the brand, cherish it and guard it jealously, for it is their own special private conversation with their audience. Customers on the other hand, ever vigilant on sussing out the market place, calmly calculates – consciously or not – the tangible and intangible attributes of the brand and how it fits in with their own private lifestyle. We listen to what brands have to tell us, but we listen on our own terms. We will finally only accept it into our lives if we identify with that promise and are sure of the claim it is promising, like the choosy and demanding buyers that we have every right to be in a retail market place that offers choice as its fundamental maxim. So next time some marketing minion tries to throw you off with such sexy terms as branding, equity, positioning and the like, keep your cool. Think about Daisy, cowboys and extra virgin olive oil and know that the retail market place is a fantastic universe of packaged promises that are ultimately designed by us for us.

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R E T IN W / N M U T U A E IV T C A L E THE CAM ! D E R U T P A C . 10 0 2 N IO T C E L L O C

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Mr Magri is the COO of Market Handle Ltd, a marketing, advertising, and online media agency with a highly innovative technological make-up, international team and end to end services for brands both online and offline.

E-commerce for the real world In today’s world, no business can afford to be offline, says Rene Magri.

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lectronic commerce has come of age in the past ten years. It’s been a decade of explosive growth and nowadays, a shop just cannot afford not to be online. Whatever brand, whichever products and target market, they have to be online, for various reasons.

It starts small Online shops have been around for quite some time. Amazon, the most representative of any e-commerce success story, has been around for 15 years. Jeff Bezos, a very wealthy man today – had the brilliant idea of trying to put something together, a simple site where people could buy books with ease. In about a month, he had the first version of Amazon.com. In less than two years, by the end of the 1990s, it was already a multi-billion dollar company and Bezos featured on the front cover of Time magazine.

Small business + internet = big business The opportunities that the online world provides to small businesses and to home-based, one-man show enterprises are endless. Today, there are more than two billion people online, from every country known to man. This means that, if an online business is executed correctly, with a good product, price-point, branding and delivery system in check, with a good budget to boot, and enthusiasm coupled with a dose of logic, it is there for the taking.

Ask affiliates if they like it How do you build your business online? There are many ways to get your business off the ground, online. The business models vary – from advertising based, to licences and anything in-between. Affiliate marketing has been around for a while, with mobile affiliates now getting their fair slice of the action too. In many ways, an affiliate is a reseller. Affiliates sell your product - a physical product like a book, or an information product, say a piece of software or an e-book. It is as simple as that. You get resellers, and they – through the traffic that they generate – help you get new customers. In essence, a portal or a website with an audience could easily be a reseller and make you money, while they get their cut.

Ready, steady, blog Affiliate marketing offers bloggers (and any other site owner) a very good opportunity to monetise their traffic. They write articles, gather an audience, and monetise it by placing your banners or links to your website. The link (either in banner or as text) is tracked and compensated for the eye-ball or for the conversion. Thus, the merchant

has acquired new visitors (and possibly a sale), the affiliate monetised their efforts, and both of them either monetised or grew their visitor-base or both. There are many models for how traffic is monetised and deals structured. The most popular are CPA (cost per action), CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per mille – thousand visitors) and many others. The pay-per-click model is the most popular advertising model online. It is also extremely popular in mobile, where a mobile application developer could monetise an app by posting links to paid-for apps, and get a piece of the download money; or by placing advertising and getting a CPM on the action generated.

A trillion dollar opportunity The transition has traditionally been from offline to online, and through affiliates and information product owners, it went from online to online. Now it is going rapidly to offline again. A company called Groupon – the name is a combination of Group and Coupon – helps merchants from every industry and location (at the time of writing, they are in more than 30 countries) to get massive sales and PR value on deals. Groupon adapted the idea of group buying for heavy discounts. Basically a merchant gets featured on the site, with a deal – daily – and the deal is valid and credit cards charged if a number of people (minimum number, which could go in thousands) get the deal. This model has been so successful that some merchants couldn’t handle the amount of new customers to their shop – and they were almost complaining about it. Small establishments seeing droves of people overnight; a deal was so successful that it was bought over 15,000 times in one day.

Internet marketing for everyday life Big retail chains have stepped up their game when it comes to the online dimension. They’re pushing hard online because online matters to their bottom line. Small businesses should do the same, as it is a very effective way to grow – if done with the help of professionals in the field – and over a well-crafted plan. Going at it without a plan might be a very expensive pursuit, as customers need only to click away.

Money / Issue 04 - 59


In search of retail marketing edge Ray Grech outlines the key marketing and communication strategies that can determine profitable success for local retailers. What do you consider to be the key marketing challenge retailers face today?

Mr Grech is a Chartered Marketer, Chairman of the International Advertising Association (IAA) Malta Chapter and an independent Strategic Marketing Consultant.

Standing out from the rest and creating a real, tangible, differentiated positioning is the key challenge in terms of what the public will perceive retailers have to offer. And that is to be taken not only from the product aspect, which on its own needs a clear positioning, but also in all that a store projects through its decor, atmosphere, service and location. This may sound obvious but not everyone manages to achieve it, and ends up with mirror images of their direct competitors down the road. Giving time and attention to looking for that edge that retailers can confidently project as their image mark, is worth its weight in gold. Once that is achieved the way forward is clearer, and retailers need to remain true to that position in all they do for their outlet. Do retailers have enough tools at their disposal to increase business? If anything, there have never been so many innovations that can increase awareness and footfall as today. Traditional advertising methods have always been expensive and harder to assess in term of effectiveness. Now, from mobile SMS and proximity messaging, to social media marketing

and direct mail advertising, the tools at any retailerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disposal, however large or small, are much more affordable, accessible and flexible than ever. Moreover, such tools are much more measurable for effectiveness, particularly in Malta where there is no real regular barometer of traditional advertisingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s immediate impact on viewers and readers. Ideally a mix of traditional advertising media with new ambient and viral methods can be used to create a balanced and integrated campaign. What can retailers do to manage their product portfolio better? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to beat the argument that a large choice of products can entice customers to frequent specific outlets. However, selective portfolio management also has the advantage of being built on a better knowledge of clients and helping them decide more effectively on what suits their needs. In the fast moving consumer goods category (FMCGs), the lesson to manage the floor and shelf space better in terms of which brands are worth allocating more space, reflecting their net margin and absolute value, rather than their low price attribute, still needs to be put to action with consistent discipline in Malta.

Money / Issue 04 - 61


Ideally a mix of traditional advertising media with new ambient and viral methods can be used to create a balanced and integrated campaign.

Combining this factor with outstanding merchandising display can create the best possible scenario for profit growth, since it captures the store customers’ attention at the crucial moment of truth, when making their purchasing decision. Basically you need to be in control of both shelf space and mind space. For retailers, can the threat of online buying trends be countered by high street retail? There is no arguing against the fact that online business is getting stronger by the day. However high street retail can turn the tables to its advantage if it concentrates on what online shopping does not manage to offer, and that is primarily real positive personal contact experiences with customers. Now is also the most crucial moment to understand the value of staff training and taking it to the next level. Above all now also is the time to improve contact with customers. When meeting your potential customers in their social environment, the emphasis needs to be on pushing and promoting the reason to visit your store with subtle aggressiveness. Given today’s highly sensitive consumer, this needs to be done with the greatest dexterity possible, while ensuring your image is projecting greater value in their minds. How can locally created retail concepts get an edge over the strong international brands appearing with increased frequency on our high streets? Global retail brands have enormous advantage over local products and services, primarily built through economies of scale and access to brand building power that is quite

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overwhelming. And sometimes, in particular areas like youth street fashion or technology driven products, the only way is to go with the flow and take on franchises or representation for the local market. However, several locally created retail brand concepts have overcome this with distinctive marketing positioning, both when combining international brands under their own retail brand umbrella and when it’s purely locally produced products. What is critical is the perceived identity that can be projected to create affinity with the target customer. If the retail concept provides the right comfort zone for them, then business will follow. Sometimes you see stuff like pairs of big brand sports shoes sitting in a nondescript showcase of a shop desperately crying out for refurbishment and branding, and you wonder how they expect to attract today’s discerning youth to reward them with their custom. Do you feel the local retail business is geared with the right marketing know-how to meet the market challenges that it will inevitably continue to face in the near future? The market is becoming increasingly dynamic and marketing people and shop owners need to react quicker on what is and what isn’t moving. The model or brand mix that worked last year does not necessarily mean that that it is going to have the same results this year. Today a business that is inflexible to market demand or brand trends will not survive. Some shops just continue to flog a dead horse, waiting until the market reacts to their needs instead of changing or adapting to the market.


esprit.com sliema 路 48, tower road 路 the point shopping mall level -1 valletta 路 26, merchants street 路 tel: +356 20601075 email: info@espritmalta.com


Traditional advertising is dead Joseph Borg gets excited about this year’s most intelligent viral campaigns.

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n a society with such a short attention span and so many products to choose from, it’s hard to reach customers just by buying advertising space. With the rise of viral marketing campaigns, companies which previously were overshadowed by their competitors or simply not known at all are managing to get hold of the attention of millions around the world and get their voice heard.

The man your man could smell like

Here’s a look at what we at Porridge consider to be some of the most successful and interesting virals.

Company: Old Spice Views on Youtube: 22+ million Link: http://bit.ly/9tbsds Achieving 1.4 billion impressions and increasing sales by over 107 per cent in just a few months, Old Spice’s “The man your man could smell like” campaign has to be, hands down, this year’s most successful viral campaign. With women making more than half of all body wash purchases, Old Spice decided to move away from traditional male-targeted campaigns. Instead, for the first time, Old Spice put women in the picture, with the aim of generating conversation between couples and thus reaching all their customers and not just their consumers. Mr Borg is one of the directors of Porridge, a creative marketing agency that takes pride in building online and offline experiences. Porridge helps brands build healthy relationships with their customers through efficient design and innovative ideas. For more information visit www.weareporridge.com.

Buzz was generated through TV ads during targeted shows tht couples would be watching together. Moreover, Youtube users could easily share and watch these ads over and over again. Achieving so much success, Old Spice decided to one-up themselves and create something more engaging. Aimed at generate intimate and personal conversations with their fans, the “Old Spice response campaign” was born. This campaign ran for two and a half days, creating personalised video responses to unsuspecting Youtube, Twitter and Reddit users.

Money / Issue 04 - 65


A hunter shoots a bear Company: Tipp-ex Views on Youtube: 9+ million Link: http://bit.ly/a9CqLH Designed for viewers to interact with the brand, Tipp-Ex’s “A hunter shoots a bear” is probably this year’s most creative and interactive viral campaign. This video allows the user to choose the bear’s faith and the hunter’s actions. Around 50 video responses have been made in order to give consumers the power to determine the end of the story. Achieving more than nine million views in four months, it sure got people talking.

Extreme Sheep LED Art

Ok Go

Company: Samsung Views on Youtube: 13+ million Link: http://bit.ly/13wCQZ

Band: Ok Go Views on Youtube: 7+ million Link: http://bit.ly/bL47Pi

In an attempt to market Samsung’s new energy-efficient LED TVs, the viral company ‘Viral Factory’ came up with an entertaining video which at first has nothing to do with TVs.

Back in 2002 the band OK Go were virtually unknown until they released a makeshift music video for their song A Million Ways. A video showed a choreographed dance performed by the band members filmed in a single shot in their backyard. As soon as it hit Youtube it immediately became an internet sensation and managed to reach millions of downloads.

Strapping hundreds of welsh sheep with LED lights they managed to create an LED TV controlled by herding dogs which just after a month managed to get 6.6 million views and got shared over 3000 times.

Read on. Join us Money Magazine 66 - Money / Issue 04

Fast forward to 2010 and OK Go are still at it. With just two music videos released over the past 10 months, they’ve managed to generate 25 million views, keeping their fans wanting more. The trick to their success is the ability to think outside the box and create single shot videos which keep the viewers watching until the end and making them wonder how their videos were made.


On the label By attracting customers’ attention, effective packaging plays an important role in the retail process, says designer Ramon Micallef.

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still remember my very first product designs. When I was still a junior, back in 1988, we used to design lighters with ‘Malta’ written on them. That was still the time of rubdown transfers and darkroom assisted studios. Nowadays, product and packaging design has come a long way, and there is a more studied association between a product and its design.

It is important to understand the market value of the product you are working on, and create a look and feel that matches its level.

To adapt design to a product, you first need to understand as much as possible the needs and expectations of the client, as well as all the elements of a product. Of course, every job has its limitations, so I try and maximise the possibilities within those limitations – thinking outside the box. A client’s input is also important. The best level of trust between designer and client is quintessential. The sooner this is established, the better the relationship becomes. I give a lot of weight to my clients’ demands and input – after all, they will be paying for the work. However, I also remind my clients that my input would not be valid should I not be left to exercise my creativity. Therefore, I feel that a democratic situation is always the best one.

Cost is also an important issue. It is important to understand the market value of the product you are working on, and create a look and feel that matches its level. You cannot treat the design of a normal table wine label in the same way you would a bottle of Barolo. Food packaging remains one of my favourites – I love to walk into stores and see the products I have designed on the shelves.” But what makes customers associate their lifestyles with one product, and not another, and eventually make a purchase? A good result is achieved through strong teamwork. Serious clients would have already carried out market surveys, analysis, and all the homework related to the new product they have in mind to launch or create. My work will very much depend on the outcome of this. Naturally, there are different ways of interpreting scientific results, but at the end of the day, it is important to work hand-in-hand with other professionals to aim for the best result possible. In some cases, a company would also want to retain its image and this has

to be reflected through its products. However, I feel that in this present age, companies also seek diversity. With new products emerging on the market in a very fast way, it is sometimes important for companies to address the requirements of the product you are designing on a shortterm basis as opposed to a longer-term timescale. As a designer, I also have to keep an eye on what other products are available and how they are designed. I always look at what is on the shelves, as well as what is being published in print and online. The more open your vision is, the more you can adapt. Locally, product and packaging design has improved dramatically over the last years. Thanks to the capabilities and investment into machinery of local printers and other tradespersons combined with a wider selection of materials, the level of production competes with that of other countries. Clients now understand that in order to put forward their product in a cutthroat selling environment, they have to invest in design and packaging.

Money / Issue 04 - 69


Drawn to design Photographer and prospective architect Kris Micallef draws up plans with architect Matthew J. Mercieca.

In the real world, biased influence, politics, and money often win over common sense and architecture.

Architecture and design are alive, constantly changing according to whom we are designing for. However I believe a strong vision from inception to completion is seminal, carrying through an idea through all phases. I like to bring things to the stage where they can be used by the client. It’s not every day that I get calm moments, but when I do, I tap into my creative energy to design something. The most comfortable space where I can work on my projects is our meeting room. It is crispy clean white and has the most light and least background noise. It’s the place I like to escape to in order to be prepared for a muse to pass by and allow me to pick up what it’s saying. Many times its gets into late nights and weekends though. Before working on a design, you first need to collect all the information. Allow all the information to sink in and back-process over time. Then let

70 - Money / Issue 04

it out all at once to an even level of detail constituting a first pure version of sorts. I find that a complete first version, even if not in depth, is better to build upon and refine. People’s needs, interactions and byproducts inspire me – the discovery of little or nothing, the possibility of creating something better, and then the courage to see it through no matter what (almost always) to a tangible reality in the future. I greatly admire Norman Foster – his work has a deep sense of completeness in all spheres, including its lifetime. I have assisted Richard England in the preparation of designs for BAAM in Reggio Calabria and have also designed a kiosk modular system for the coast in Croatia. However, while I am interested in work abroad and have had a few leads to follow, I am tactically strengthening my base for the time being.


Photo by Kris Micallef

Photo by Kris Micallef

Spotlight on Matthew J. Mercieca I’m currently reading Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It’s like tele-transportation most of the time, instant mental imagery. I tend to read about three or four books in parallel though so that I can choose depending on my mood. I do have a few projects that have remained on paper. The toughest one to swallow, to date, was a great building proposed for the heart of Paceville, which suddenly changed course. Unfortunately, in its place is an excuse for architecture. It was another case of form follows profit, forgetting function, aesthetics, longevity and prestige. On the positive side the project, on paper, remains pure. We have just completed the drawings and contract documents for a commercial complex including parking, retail, offices and warehousing that should be complete towards the end of 2011/2012. Several new great residences are also germinating. The music I listen to depends on the mood I’m in. If I want to be productive, I put on some Paul Oakenfold or Global Underground. For encouragement, I listen to Dire Straits or Alan Parsons Project, while if I’m feeling playful, it’s R&B and commercial music.

After graduating in Architecture and Civil Engineering Design Stream from the University of Malta, with a semester at Virginia Tech University, Matthew J. Mercieca went on to work with top firms in Malta for three years and furthered his studies by attending a Masters level course in New Entertainment Design at the Politecnico di Milano in 2006. Whilst working with Bencini & Associates, Architecture Project and DeMicoli & Associates, on projects of various scales, Matthew worked on several international competitions – here, his key role was design concept, development and threedimensional visualisation and presentation. Matthew established his own firm, Matthew J. Mercieca Design Architects, in 2003. Since then, he has been commissioned and has completed numerous projects with a unified design approach. His work has been reviewed in local magazines and referenced in academic papers, dissertations and cultural publications. Matthew frequently tutors official Autodesk courses in architectural software and tutors students in Architectural Design at the Faculty of the Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Malta.

Money / Issue 04 - 71


We have been involved in retail space design, and have completed the Vodafone Valletta and Birkirkara outlets. It was an interesting experience that I believe yielded good results, although in a challenging environment requiring more than just good ideas, planning and skill in execution. For me, it is very important to see the concepts of a project seen through to completion. I still originate and conceptualise all our work. However, continuous interaction with the team during working drawings and site work makes the concept not only live on but also be stronger. Detail makes all the difference between something disposable and reusable. I believe projects that come together at the last minute on site or by chance or by coincidence alone are workshops or experiments. Although there is an important place for experimentation and innovation, it is indispensable to describe in detail every aspect of a project to make it the best it can be. Detail gives the insight necessary to take the right decisions. Every kind of material has a place in an architectural project. As long as it is devoid of futile decoration, true to itself or natural, and suited for its implementation, I use it. Teaching design at the University of Malta allows me to step back from the heaviness of reality. Although challenging, the fact that I share my knowledge and experience and help students keeps me younger and helps me continue reinventing my skills and myself. Architecture theoretically almost always wins at university, whereas in the real world, biased influence, politics, and money often win over common sense and architecture. For the architecture of the future, I expect more integration and interactivity, more pre-meditation, more customisation, more technology, comfort and efficiency, more sustainability, excitement, and user-consciousness. In a nutshell, I expect a lot â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the beginning.

72 - Money / Issue 04


Massimo Dutti trousers - €69.90 Primo Emporio Trench coat - €230.95 Debenhams shoes - €68.00 74 - Money / Issue 03


Room at the top

Photography: Kris Micallef, www.krismicallef.com Fashion Stylist: Luke Engerer / Model: James Shot at The George Hotel, Paceville.

Money / Issue 03 - 75


76 - Money / Issue 03


French Connection jeans - €63.00 Tommy Hilfiger coat - €380.00 Tommy Hilfiger shirt - €90.00 Primo Emporio cardigan - €92.95 Tommy Hilfiger jumper - €140.00 French Connection beanie - €31.00 Camel Active boots @ Scholl - €120.00 Opposite French Connection cap - €31.00 Tom Tailor trousers - €55.95 Primo Emporio top - €86.95 Massimo Dutti jacket - €195.00 Camel Active boots @ Scholl - €120.00

Money / Issue 03 - 77


78 - Money / Issue 03


Massimo Dutti trousers - €79.90 Massimo Dutti poloneck - €69.90 Massimo Dutti belt - €39.90 Bortex jacket - €179.00 Bortex hat - €35.00 Mexx scarf - €22.95 Ecco boots - €149.00 Opposite Tommy Hilfiger jacket - €320.00 Primo Emporio shirt - €82.95 Tommy Hilfiger jumper - €120.00 French Connection trousers - €97.00 Massimo Dutti belt - €39.90 Money / Issue 03 - 79


80 - Money / Issue 03


Bortex suit - €123.00 Bortex shirt - €40.75 Bortex bow tie - €19.00 Bortex cummerband - €19.72 Bortex hat - €52.50 Ecco shoes - €144.90 Opposite Mexx jumper - €75.00 Primo Emporio coat - €244.95 Tommy Hilfiger trousers - €90.00 Mexx shoes - €139.00 Money / Issue 03 - 81


Being Franck How would you describe your style? Natural. What inspires your style? Reggae, gypsy, soul and yoga.

The man comes around The life and times of ‘The Man’ Franck Bobinski.

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K Fashion House French Connection has launched yet another groundbreaking campaign this season. Once again, the brand divides the collection into two distinct personas, The Man and The Woman, bringing them to life through world class filmmaking and a visually arresting campaign. Uniting British wit with European style, this season’s campaign takes the concept to the next level. Exploring The Man and The Woman’s interaction with their environment, the print campaign and short films capture the characters’ joie-de-vivre and effortless style. Shot on location, the campaign offers a voyeuristic snapshot of their lives, from a stolen glance of an ex-lover under a twilight sky, to an enchanted evening at the opera or a gleeful bike ride through the warm autumn sun. To create the campaign, French Connection turned to award winning photo and film collective Blinkk. Joining them this season was the talented cinematographer Edu Grau, who created the breathtaking imagery in A Single Man and Burled as Director of Photography. Grau brought his expert eye to both the film and print campaign, incorporating a warm, luscious palette to convey 1960s Paris with a contemporary French Connection twist. The Woman is portrayed by the Franco-Spanish rising star Astrid Berges-Frisbee, who will be appearing alongside Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. The Man is portrayed by Franck Bobinski, a seasoned professional of the Paris fashion and film scene. “We’re very excited by the AW 10 collection – in my opinion, it is one of our strongest yet. The advertising perfectly complements our range and I think we’ve produced a campaign that is both visually and verbally arresting,” said Stephen Marks, Founder & Chairman, French Connection. French Connection is locally available at Level 0, Baystreet Shopping Complex, St Julians, (open every day from 10:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: 2202 2148) and at the Malta International Airport, Departures Lounge (Tel: 2125 7046).

82 - Money / Issue 04

What was your favourite item from the French Connection campaign? I really feel fine with most French Connection clothes – the shoes in the film Rain, the black and white square shirt with the white costume are nice. New or vintage? The both. Was it fun working with Blinkk and Edu Grau? It was a great pleasure to work with them – they give the right attention to the comedian and open the creativity so you can be yourself and amuse the situations. Are you really like ‘The Man’? When I was chosen at the casting I believed that they already know me. What do your family think of your work on the project? My mum was very impressed when she saw me in the big print above the Gallery Lafayette with my rabbit ears. She put some French Connection photos up in her salon. Is it true you don’t actually drink milk? Yes, I prefer vegetable milk! Did you really walk to Nepal? I walked to India and Thailand and to China. Nepal was another trip. What’s the most amazing thing you have ever found? My wife, but she’s not a thing. What do you do when you’re not acting? I am with my family, gardening, writing philosophical tales, and singing. Does everyone love your beard as much as we do? Most do, but not everyone. Some people think that I am hiding me but I am totally me. Favourite moment in life? Love in all his forms. Where are the best ‘Woman’ from? The best woman is when she comes to you. Your favourite actor/actress? I don’t have only one – Charlie Chaplin, Daniel Day Lewis, Daniel Auteuil, Sri Devi, Natalie Portman, Marion Cottillard, and more. What films and projects do you have coming up? My kids are very young so I spend my time with my family but I have some projects with an underground director about education.


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Money / Issue 04 - 83


Luxe living

Up the sleek factor and get the party started this festive season in these head turning party pieces. Photography: Tonio Lombardi / Stylist: Kira Drury

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01 Debenhams stripe top, €37.00 / 02 Accessorize flower shaped ring, €18.90 / 03 Accessorize cat ring, €18.90 / 04 Accessorize ring with star detail, €24.90 / 5 Carpisa sequin pouch, €19.90 / 06 Tommy Hilfiger black belt, €40.00 / 07 Debenhams black dress, €78.00 / 08 Accessorize mask, €5.90 / 09 Tommy Hilfiger watch, €169.00 / 10 French Connection silver heels, €126.00 / 11 Accessorize bow clutch bag, €54.00 each / 12 Debenhams black heels, €46.00

84 - Money / Issue 04


01 Carpisa black bag, €129.90 02 Massimo Dutti suit jacket, €195.00 03 Bortex shirt, €39.00 04 Bortex tie, €19.90 05 Mexx perfume, €33.00 06 French Connection black watch, €155.00 07 Tommy Hilfiger silver watch, €199.00 08 Primo Emporio underwear, €11.95 09 French Connection body sprays, €11.33 each 10 Massimo Dutti suit trousers, €79.90 11 Ecco shoes, €116.90

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Money / Issue 04 - 85


Gone fishing By Mark Zerafa from Zeriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s restaurant, Portomaso Marina. Photos by Christian Sant Fournier

A tower of fresh white grouper and grilled marinated vegetables topped with a red local prawn and served with a light lemon and parsley sauce and a fresh mango relish You need: 600 gr of fresh filleted white grouper 1 medium sized aubergine 1 medium sized round marrow 1 fresh mango 4 fresh red local prawns 100 ml fish stock 25 ml Paneolio Lemon Res 20 ml balsamic vinegar 100 ml Paneolio olive oil 1 lemon 50 ml white wine 2 tablespoons chopped parsley Method: First cut the aubergine and marrow into one-centimetre thick circles and grill or pan fry for a nice presentable color. Then marinate them in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Place the grouper inside a circle ring mould towering it with the marinated vegetables. Add a splash of white wine and season accordingly. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for 10-15 minutes or till the fish is cooked through. Simply pan fry the prawns and add a small amount of white wine to simmer them for one minute. For the mango relish, saute the diced mango in a pan, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar, set to cool and whisk in some olive oil for texture. For the lemon and parsley sauce place the fish stock in a pan and let it simmer along with the Paneolio Lemon Res and seasoning. Add parsley before plating to retain the colour. To plate, remove the fish from the mould onto a plate, top it with the prawn and the lemon sauce, and drizzle some of the mango relish around the plate.

86 - Money / Issue 04


At Zeri’s restaurant, you can enjoy stunning views of Portomaso Marina, whilst tasting the consistently good cuisine and innovative dishes courtesy of Chef Patron Mark Zerafa (also known as Zeri) and his team. Zeri’s restaurant is also winner of several top restaurant awards. The menu includes a wonderful choice of pastas, salads, meat and spectacular fish dishes, with fresh fish delivered daily. Zeri adapts with skilful precision, creating dishes with a traditional Mediterranean flavor, whilst also drawing on inspiration from the Orient. Zeri’s is now open for Sunday lunches. Topping it off, Zeri’s is also offering a 10% discount on Sunday lunches until the end of November. For bookings call 2135 9559.

Dark chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream You need: 50 gr unsalted butter 2 tsp cocoa powder 50 gr bitter chocolate 2 eggs

60 gr caster sugar 50 gr plain flour icing sugar

Method: Preheat oven to 160C. Butter two large ramekins, about 7.5 cm in diameter, then dust liberally with cocoa, shaking out any excess. Slowly melt the butter and chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of hot water, then take off the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 min. Use an electric whisk to whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick, then incorporate the choclate mixture. Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon. Divide between the remekins and bake for 12 minutes. Turn the chocolate fondants out to warmed plates. Dust the tops with icing sugar and serve with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

Fresh lampuki fish cakes on a bed of rocket and oyster mushroom served with a sweet chilli dressing You need: 400 gr fresh filleted lampuki 1 medium sized onion finely chopped 2 diced coloured peppers 100 gr fresh rocket leaves 100 gr oyster mushrooms 2 eggs 50 gr flour Fresh finely chopped mint 50 ml oyster sauce For the dressing: 100 ml Paneolio olive oil 20 ml balsamic vinegar 50 ml sweet chilli

Method: First steam the lampuki so you are able to flake the meat into a mixing bowl. In a pan, fry the onions and the diced peppers abd when cooked add the oyster sauce in the pan and let it simmer for one to two minutes. Add the onions and mixed peppers to the lampuki meat. Mix in the beaten eggs and add the flour accordingly. Then add the chopped mint and season with salt and pepper. Now shape the mixture into small sized patties and fry with olive oil over a gentle flame. For the base, saute the sliced oyster mushrooms, set aside to cool down, and toss them with the rocket. For the dressing just whisk the ingredients together.

Money / Issue 04 - 87


You are alone without being lonely.

Paradise found Surf’s up for Mona Farrugia as she finds treasure on her island.

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very year, 80 per cent of those who have a British upper middle class membership (London apartment, Cotswolds hideaway) decamp, en masse, to anywhere that is surrounded by turquoise blue waters, from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean. They go anywhere, in fact, that does not look or feel like England. This, according to the law of demand and supply, pushes the prices of the most beautiful resorts in the world up. In Malta, we are lucky as usually around December and January, strangely enough, our weather is still predictable, our skies frequently blue, and the temperature not so awfully freezing as to crack our bones. Our drabbest months are March and April, which unite to provide us with the most horrid of grey London weather and humidity. These are the moments when I start to leaf through my photo album and dream of where I could be. And, in a lucky coincidence, during this period, these super expensive resorts are actually not expensive at all, some of them slumping to even 50 per cent of their original prices. What this means is that we can just pack up and go.

88 - Money / Issue 04

There are hundreds of islands in the Maldives. Emirates lands in the night so you do not get to see them, but the moment I get on the private jet (a water taxi) dispatched by Soneva Fushi to pick me up, my eyes are popping at the sheer quantity of them. Some are resorts, others are for the locals, and hundreds are just a deserted dream. A few are already slowly and quietly sinking, so all you see is a dark whale-like outline beneath the beautiful turquoise waters. The service on the water taxi is just a taster of what is to come at one of the most beautiful resorts in the Maldives. All resorts occupy their own islands, but few do it as elegantly as the Sonevas. In Malta, amalgamation of husband and wife names – for house-naming purposes – usually leads to hilarity, yet Sonu and his wife, former Swedish model Eva Malmström, brought theirs together to brilliant effect. Years ago, Sonu, wanting to surprise his wife, took her to what already was a natural paradise. Yet on arriving in the Maldives, they found that on an accommodation level, the islands were less than impressive. So he just built her a resort. Years later, they still visit and stay at their villa. Generously, the same

architecture and layout that they created for themselves is now available in around 50 other villas. Many resorts in the Maldives skipped a little on the privacy element but at Soneva Fushi, you are alone without being lonely. The experience starts at the airport where your own Mr or Miss Crusoe picks you up and takes your shoes. From here on, you will stay barefoot. It takes me a few hours to get used to this. As I leave my bags in the villa and hop on my mountain bike I realise that I had put my Havaianas back on. You can always tell who is new as they are the ones who are still trying to shed Europe off their feet. My plan is to do nothing, which in the Maldives is a perfect plan – my days are soon packed with beautiful versions of nothingness. Right outside my villa is my own stretch of private beach, the sand starting from where the living room ends. There are no news channels on the huge flat screen monitor – it’s only there for watching films. In this ambience though, watching films is only a necessity if you have a couple of children you want to put to bed.


The real film is outside – stretches of powder-white sand and never-ending hues of blue from duck-egg to royal. I rush to the discussion being held in the main bar by the in-house marine biologist and get my first glimpse of what is lurking under that water. An hour later I am equipped with mask and fins, the marine biologist by my side. A bunch of adventurous guests have turned up for their first snorkelling lesson. I’ve been to plenty of islands in the Indian Ocean but nothing comes even close to the balance of beauty in the Maldivian waters – in the Seychelles it is expensive and was frequently windy (so no visibility); in Mauritius it rained all the time (again, no visibility) but in the Maldives, your chances of perfect weather are very high indeed. I am not a diver and know next to nothing about the underwater world except for the fact that when I am there I do not want to get out. The coral reef is an underwater heaven – parrot fish and shoals of silver fish swim around me, while a few pilot sharks play around. I listen to fish tapping away at the coral, eating whatever it is they eat down there. I feel the sun on my back. My heart is going to burst with happiness. The Maldives give you your childhood back, even if you never had one.

The sea in a glass A Maldives cocktail must look like its sea but taste nothing like it. It must, therefore, make use of that Blue Curacao which you have hanging at the back of the drinks cabinet begging to be used.

2 measures of white rum 1 measure of Blue Curacao 1 measure of Baileys 7 measures of pineapple juice Blitz the lot with crushed ice in a blender and serve with a very chic paper umbrella. Or maybe not.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Soneva Fushi dining spaces. Breakfast is a banquet of very contemporary and chic food. The method is buffet – as in you choose to eat whatever you like – but it is as far off from hotel buffets as I have ever experienced. I fall mildly in love with the man who, every morning, peels my mango and flutes it on the plate with such pride that I want to adopt him and bring him, and a couple of tonnes of mango, back with me. There is a huge walk-in cheese fridge with beautiful French and Spanish charcuterie and I find myself nibbling at all hours of the day, passing by it completely ‘by chance’. The dessert fridge – and by ‘fridge’ I mean ‘room’ – is a Charlie’s Chocolate Factory kind of place where children go berserk and so do their parents.

Many have the impression that there is nothing to do in the Maldives. I, for one, have packed 10 huge paperbacks but every day I find myself doing something else. There is the snorkelling, which, after my first lesson, I start doing at seven every morning. There are cookery classes with the wonderful chefs (one of them a Spanish 2-star Michelin – they take their food very seriously here), talks about fish and food, star-gazing after dinner (that’s Saturn!) and the amazing open-air cinema. Sounds odd? That’s what I thought until I find myself lounging, drinking cocktails and nibbling on popcorn in front of a huge screen under the blazing star-studded sky watching The Great Gatsby. The architecture is beautifully laid out so that even if accompanied by children you have that very difficult-toachieve combination of them enjoying themselves in the sand while you can actually relax without having to cart

bags full of their stuff. The safety aspect is natural – the sea outside your door is around 40 centimetres deep. Nothing, though, comes close to the highlight of the entire trip and one you would be absolutely crazy to miss out on, having travelled fourteen hours to arrive – the day trip to the deserted island. Few resorts have access to their own offisland island and Soneva does. In the morning, two members of staff pick me up from the jetty and take me away on a 35-minute speedboat ride to an island cut off from everywhere else. They set up my picnic (lobster salad, chilled wine, fresh exotic fruits, and cute little pastry items) in the little hut, show me where the full-blown toilet was (‘that other hut, right across’) and leave me there. All day I read, sunbathe (prepare your factor 50 as you will need it), snorkel, and wish that I could stay here for eternity.

Mona Farrugia edits and writes for food, travel and review website www.planetmona.com.

Money / Issue 04 - 89


Mr Camilleri is a Master NLP Practitioner and is the founder of www.successlodge.com.

Seasonal blues Take time out and deal with your internal pressures, says Claude Camilleri.

S

ome of us feel internally crushed when the big occasions roll up, such as seasonal feasts, wedding celebrations and vacations. It’s not because we do not want to participate – on the contrary, we would love to. Rather, it’s because social pressures of success and fortunes drive us up the wall – not a smart choice for the mind. You see, life can be a struggle if we choose to think that way. If we focus uninterruptedly on one area – in this case, negativity – we will get more of it. This is what the law of attraction implies. The law of attraction asks us to tune into what matters in our hearts and in our aspirations. By focusing on what we want, we tune into drive mode, which gives us the courage to break free from fear, and go out and get the life we want. Life is not even a millisecond in the universe, so why do some of us wait so long to break free from our fears and move on? The answer could be in what I call factory machine. Factory machine is when we live our life in constant routine. We go in circles. We start from the finish line day in and day out. Our energies remain devoid of adventure, experiences, wisdom and spinning evolutions. How do we break free from the factory machine and start spinning gratifying evolutions? We need to stop for an instance. 
This does not mean stopping the machine completely but rather, take time out to tune into our life’s ambitions, aspirations and vision. It only takes one small act at a time to change our destiny into a positive reality. We are where we are today because of our own decisions. You have the power to live the life you want. You do not have to be the President to feel good internally. You should live your life knowing that each and every day you give your best in all that you do. You love, you laugh, you respect, you create, you are, you live. I recently reread a book by Paul McKenna and there were

90 - Money / Issue 04

two things that I thought you wound find interesting. Although what I share may seem meaningless to you, the fact is that your mind can understand the profound meaning in their simplicity. We all breathe the same air and we all have 24 hours in a day. Think about that for a second. What do these two sentences mean to you? When I discovered Neuro Linguistic Programming, I was given the tools to program my mind to get the life I want. I replaced internal pressures with calm assertive thought. I respected what was given to me, and although I did not always understand it, I found ways to move forward.

Life is not even a millisecond in the universe, so why do some of us wait so long to break free from our fears and move on?

We can all program our minds. It is easy. We just need to start somewhere. We can start by clearing our mind at the beginning of each and every day. We can find a place of silence and tranquillity and give our mind its deserved nest. Clarity is undeniably a magic place in anyone’s mind.

Read on. Join us Money Magazine


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MONEY Nov/Dec '10 - Issue 4  

THE RETAIL ISSUE

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