Barter battle billows

TRADE exchange company BBX has opened 11 new franchises across the country with the Gold Coast a prime target.

BBX, the membership-based, cashless trading exchange, has been taken up by more than 6000 businesses in Australia and New Zealand and is targeting the Gold Coast – the home to trade exchange Bartercard.

BBX chief executive Michael Touma, says the BBX network continues to grow despite the economic downturn. The company recently opened a new office at Hope Island and another at Logan.

“The reason for this is that people are discovering that barter is by far the best medium to fight a recession where cash dries up, sales drop and dead stock and inventory becomes harder to liquidate which can create huge losses,” says Touma.
“There are only two of us left in the market and we’re both after the same market place. But we’re sticking to our standard plan and will continue to do what we do best in the areas of hospitality and tourism.”

RIval Bartercard, under the re-appointment of managing director Brian Hall (1999-2001) is banking on cash flow and credit restraints to increase growth in the new FY.
Property has emerged as a new player as evaluations are hammered and profits downsized.

If BBX is making an audacious bid to leverage its share of the market, Hall and his team are not too concerned.

“We don’t worry about how competitors are going. Anyone can open an office at the end of the day. BBX has opened and closed on the Gold Coast multiple times,” says Hall, who has replaced Trevor Dietz in the Bartercard hot seat.

“We have not felt any glitches and it’s okay to make statements but show us what the results are.”

Opened nine years ago, BBX’s first Gold Coast office is one of its busiest. It equates to more than 50 per cent of BBX trading on the Gold Coast within the hospitality industry. Members include the Q1 Resort and Chevron Renaissance.

Touma says BBX opens up a new international market for Gold Coast businesses, especially those within the hospitality and tourism industries.

The exchange is working with the Reserve Bank of China to re-commence trading with its 300,000 members after selling its master franchise to the Chinese-owned Jimoa. Franchises have also been established in India and Costa Rica, with other international franchises under negotiation.Bartercard meanwhile has around 20,000 members Australia wide with 45 offices.

Hall meanwhile is one third of the Bartercard triumvirate consisting Trevor Dietz and chairman Murray d’Almeida. He remains confident the franchise model he founded can continue to thrive amid new competition. The shareholder group famously displayed tenacity during the company’s $25.5 million MBO in 2007.

“The Bartercard business model is also highly attractive to businesses in the current economic environment where cash flow is a major challenge for businesses as well as banks reluctance to extend credit,” says Hall.

“Everything is staring to turn around and we have recorded good sales in the last month. We have hung in there and now we are starting to climb again.”

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