The line-up of speakers was impressive, starting with Nicky Weimar, Nedbank's Senior Economist, whose message was certainly that the world as we know it is still struggling financially and is likely to stay flat. Since the massive recessionary times in 2009, the world's economy has certainly improved, but is not recovering in leaps and bounds as we are fully aware.
The South African Government needs to spend more on infrastructure (hospitals, roads, schools, transport) in order to create a foundation on which businesses can develop and grow.
Foreign investment in South Africa is largely focused on bonds and not on capital expenditure, which puts a great risk on the country's fiscal stability and the state of the rand.
Her prediction for 2013 is that the Reserve bank will keep things as stable as possible not to rock the boat and that rates are likely to stay constant most of the year.
Clum Sunter is very well known for his scenario planning and few will know that his book "The Mind of a Fox - Scenario Planning in Action" was the top seller in South Africa in 2002 and was only just pipped by Harry Potter the following year.
Not only does Clem have many years of scenario planning behind him with huge corporates including many years at Anglo but has also worked with the Central Party School in Beijing - a rare privilege for a foreigner.
Clem's scenarios include watching out for different warning signs - which he calls flags and for him, keeping South Africa in a "Premier League' would mean ensuring the following:
- Leaderships need to be Inclusive - which Mandela did well but subsequently sadly has not happened. There is a general feeling that Cyril Ramaphosa, with his positive negotiating style, will be able to bring back a sense of inclusivity to the leadership in S.A.
- Celebrating Pockets of Excellence - we need to use them to raise others up. We need to celebrate our successes. Clem spoke of the world-famous brilliant young black student, Siyabulela Xuza, from Mthatha, who did plenty of experiments on a new and safe rocket fuel, is now lauded by NASA and has subsequently graduated from Harvard and has had a planet named after him - Planet 23182, discovered in 2000 (just around the time Xuza became serious about rocketry), is now known as Siyaxuza and is found in the main asteroid belt near Jupiter. Many South Africans have never heard of this brilliant young man, but is a household name in the USA.
- Creating a Positive Economy - which includes making it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses and employ people. We cannot grow our economy without starting a million new businesses. So come on all your entrepreneurs out there - get moving. Train your children to start their own businesses.
Clem is hopeful that Cyril Ramaphosa will help to drive an Economic Codesa in South Africa.
See his website www.mindofafox.com for more on Clem.
Carolyn Barton, originally from Somerset West, gave her view as the 'gatekeeper' for wine at Makro. With 45% of off-consumption wines sold in South Africa being sold through retailers - Makro has a large slice of this pie with their 18 warehouse clubs, and each store having between 35 and 100 running meters of wine. Trying to make your wine stand out in this crowd is not easy!
Makro market effectively to their 2 million card-holders country-wide, but with 1600 skus, they are a difficult outlet for wineries, where it takes a lot to be noticed. Makro is showing a growth in sales of 20% in box wine.
With every retailer reducing their list of vendors, Makro is no exception, but Carolyn says there is still room for smaller producers, as long as they can live up to expectations and supply as required with each producer having to do more instore merchandising than before as the stores are just shelves which draw customers.
Other speakers were:
Rico Basson (MD VinPro), speaking on VinPro's 10 year focus: and he touched on the elephant in the room with the strikes in the winelands...with Agriculture being a major employer (275 000 jobs) and the Wine Industry having 30 000 employees, it is a major contributor to employment in the Western Cape. The excise duties which alcohol contribute to the SARS coffers are huge and seem out of balance. See his presentation below for more...
Dr Johan Bruwer, well-known academic from Adelaide University and now a consultant, spoke about the World Market and the impact of Bulk Wine exports which has grown phenomenally in the last year. He was less enthusiastic about China as a positive export market, as he reckons that they will be producing enough of their own wine in the not too distant future, what with the Chinese government sponsoring plenty of winemaking students to study at Adelaide University in Australia. His money seems to be on the USA.
Francois Viljoen, Consultation Service Manager (VinPro) gave us his entertaining Seasonal Overview and Harvest expectations, (generally a great year in 2012 and expecting a very good harvest).
John Purchase - CEO, Agricultural Business Chamber, gave his views on the political scene, which seems to be a quagmire, trying to get the different departments to speak to each other effectively.
All the presentations are available on the Vinpro site - see HERE
For more information visit www.vinpro.co.za