Boosting the bottom line

GIPPSLAND businesses are reacting to current market forces “proactively and co-operatively”, but rising utility costs have forced a widespread re-think of business practices, according to the region’s peak business body.

Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry Gippsland manager Terry Fitzgerald encouraged local businesses to attend a VECCI briefing session in Traralgon on Thursday aimed at helping them boost their bottom line through improved resource efficiencies.

He said local businesses were operating in a “challenging environment” but were reacting in a range of positive ways, including “accessing new markets, looking at new products and services and using new promotional activities”.

In the face of pressures including a high Australian dollar and soaring energy costs Gippsland’s businesses were “looking at cost reduction methodologies that don’t necessarily reduce head count,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Knowledge and resource sharing among businesses and networks across the regions had seen businesses focus on sustainable ways to deal with market factors “hurting” many sectors, particularly manufacturing and retail, he said, “but never have they been more mindful in regards to cost imposts on their businesses”.

VECCI manager Kate Elborough told The Express energy prices had risen by 40 per cent in the past five years and energy-intensive businesses were “becoming more unsustainable”.

She said VECCI was helping businesses “think, see and plan ahead” given prices were not coming down.

“We are saying that while they can’t control the Australian dollar, for example, (energy use) is something you can control and you can protect your business from future price rises,” Ms Elborough said.

“One concept is that, if you can save your business $5000 to $10,000 by protecting yourself from energy price rises, that could be the equivalent to $50,000 to $100,000 in sales, to make the same amount of savings.”

She said the carbon tax was not the only driver of price rises but it had “certainly bought the issue to the forefront”.

Thursday’s session aims to assist businesses in planning ahead and identifying opportunities to make savings, she added.

Ms Elborough said funding was also available to businesses, through various federal and state sources – particularly the Sustainability Victoria program – to help “audit and implement resource efficiency opportunities”.

Businesses can also phone VECCI’s Carbon Compass help line for free assistance on

8662 5490.

The local briefing session will be held between noon and 1.30pm at the Premier Function Centre, 29 Grey Street, Traralgon.

Businesses wishing to attend should register by phoning 8662 5333.