(Ltr) Penny Easthorpe (Express), Bridget Jones (Pronel), presenters Andy Preston and Trevor Taylor, Conrad Thatcher (Pick n Pay Victoria Road) and Nondumiso Mbhele (Royal Hospital).

Delegates to a sales and marketing masterclass at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business on Tuesday had their heads spinning with the information from a trio of specialists, UK-based sales guru Andy Preston, tourism research specialist James Seymour and former GHC marketing manager Trevor Taylor, now in Australia. Seymour highlighted the value of sound segmentation and research with reference to business events and leisure tourism marketing, while Taylor highlighted the bottom-line value of loyalty programmes and also elaborated on the new marketing mix strategies of the 3Cs (customer, corporation, competition) and the 4As (awareness, affordability, acceptability and accessibility). Preston emphasised the relationship between sales and operations and pointed out that social media credibility is more important than capability. He also provided some tips on how to become a "trusted advisor” and "the favoured” tenderer upfront.

Maureen Pevsner (4th left, front) with the large group of trainees.

To help ease the challenges of a diverse, and sometimes divisive, workplace, Maureen Pevsner of Trainsmart runs a course that speaks for itself -  Working Together: Striving For Excellence –
Simple tips for communication and behaviour in the workplace. One of the most popular courses on the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, it deals with the full spectrum of workplace issues.

  Today in History  

1926: The first two-way transatlantic telephone takes place between the post office in London and Bell Laboratories in New York using a short-wave radio signal.

And that’s why today is observed as Alexander Bell Day globally!

  News worth knowing  


Taxpayers are not just funding the more than half a billion rand operations of the Zondo inquiry, they are also paying the legal fees of some witnesses and implicated officials, including former president Jacob Zuma. In almost all of these cases, there is no guarantee that the office-bearers will be required to pay back the money if they are found by the state capture inquiry to have acted outside the scope of their official duties. (BDLive)



Any analysts who are banking on the Reserve Bank to reverse its stance and cut interest rates anytime soon could be mistaken.Delivering a public lecture at Stellenbosch University last night, Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said: “Inflation has not really been sufficiently low to get our high long-term interest rates lower, and this creates an economic cost that weighs more heavily on job creation as time goes on.” Inflation has eased in recent months on lower oil prices and a firmer rand. The Bank’s monetary policy committee kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.75%  in February after raising it 25 basis points for the first time in two years in November. The committee will make its next decision on March 28, with analysts expecting an unchanged stance in response to the improved inflation outlook. Some analysts have pencilled in rate cuts towards the end of 2019. (BDLive)



An application for legal assistance to source evidence in the Steinhoff matter has been finalised and sent to Austria, Hawks boss Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya says. At the centre of the saga is former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, one of the senior executives who was at the helm of the retailer ahead of its collapse in December 2017. The Hawks are investigating various matters relating to Steinhoff involving fraud, misrepresentation and the loss of billions of rand for investors. Separate investigations by PwC have uncovered the overstatement of income and assets at the retailer. (BDLive)



A little over R22 million meant to help previously disadvantaged lawyers start up their own practices was “misappropriated”, allegedly by the fund’s now deceased CEO. It is understood that the money from the Attorneys Development Fund (ADF) was allegedly used to buy, among other items, a R6.6 million house in the affluent Saxonwold area in Johannesburg. The transactions were allegedly made by the late ADF CEO Mackenzie Mukansi between January and September 2018. The board only picked this up in October. By contrast, the ADF, which focuses on the development of previously disadvantaged attorneys, had only paid out R1.7 million between 2014 and 2018 to beneficiaries, according to its annual report. Only 64 beneficiaries were assisted during that time. The scandal surrounding the late CEO became public last week when the Law Society of SA (LSSA) informed its members that it would push for the resignation of the ADF board at its annual general meeting which took place last Friday. Other stakeholders in the ADF include the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund, the Legal Practice Council, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Black Lawyers Association. (BDLive)



Absa Group is restructuring its South African retail and business banking unit within months of reducing the division’s management team and rolling out a new strategy. Finance labour union Sasbo was notified to begin consulting staff last week on the potential impact of the move, union representative Philip Landman said. About 15 retail-banking executives exited their positions at the Johannesburg-based lender in June, after a similar process was followed to flatten the unit’s top structure. Discussions between Sasbo, Absa and employees are still in their early stages, with 827 jobs potentially at risk, Landman cited a written notice from the company as saying, adding that 340 people might be employed through the process. “At this point we are trying to figure out if what the bank is saying has merit, and proof that the restructuring is actually unnecessary. (Moneyweb)



The onus is on government to kick-start the economy by driving infrastructural spending, initiate development programmes and undertake ongoing maintenance in key entities and facilities, said Bidvest in its results presentation. It expected economic growth, industrial activity and consumer spending were likely to remain “lacklustre” until certainty emerged in the wake of SA’s national election in May. It added that the economic damage caused by corruption will take time to remedy,” Bidvest said. (BDLive)



Eskom's senior manager for operations and maintenance, Daphne Mokoena, has said that some employees of the power utility have been connecting Soweto households to electricity illegally. Eyewitness News released a report on Monday morning in which it spoke to an employee of Eskom who was helping Soweto households that failed to pay their light bills illegally re-connect to the system. Mokoena confirmed that Eskom was dealing with employees who use their positions to illegally re-connect households for extra money. Soweto households currently owe Eskom a combined R17 billion in unpaid electricity bills. (BDLive)



The MTN Group is considering the sale of its stake in Botswana’s largest wireless carrier, as CEO Rob Shuter seeks to reduce the number of countries in which the company operates. A disposal of the interest in Botswana’s Mascom could generate as much as R2.5 billion. While Shuter initiated a review of MTN’s then-22 markets a year ago, the Johannesburg-based company has to date only completed the sale of its Cyprus operation. (Bloomberg)



Oil declined after an industry report showed a massive increase in US crude stockpiles, ahead of more comprehensive data from the government. Futures fell by about 1% in New York, after closing lower on Tuesday. US inventories swelled by 7.29 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. If Energy Information Administration data confirms that, it would be the biggest increase in six weeks. The OECD cut its outlook for global growth again amid trade tensions and political uncertainty. Though crude prices rallied more than 25% in the first six weeks of the year, the gains have fizzled. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners have been cutting output to prevent a glut, and sanctions on members Iran and Venezuela are also tightening supply, but fragile oil demand and booming American output threaten to frustrate their efforts. (Reuters)



Scientists from Heriot-Watt University have welded glass and metal together using an ultrafast laser system, in a breakthrough for the manufacturing industry.Various optical materials such as quartz, borosilicate glass and even sapphire were all successfully welded to metals like aluminium, titanium and stainless steel using the Heriot-Watt laser system, which provides very short, picosecond pulses of infrared light in tracks along the materials to fuse them together. The new process could transform the manufacturing sector and have direct applications in the aerospace, defence, optical technology and even healthcare fields. (IOL)


Three steps towards change

Most of us are experts at change — well, how others should change.

We knew a Trump presidency would be a bad idea. And we’re pretty sure Brexit is crazy. 

That means others are more likely to know what we should change than we are. That’s hard to accept, but the wisest among us leverage that knowledge. 

Three steps to get people talking: 
•    Wander around, let people see that you are interested in what they are doing.
•    Ask questions — to learn not to check on them!
•    Praise, acknowledge and encourage.

Then get ready to listen.

Simply Communicate’s workshops (08h30 - 12h30) at the Chamber:

Customer Service            3 April 2019
Do you know what it’s like to do business with you? Your customers do. Are you listening to them or to your staff who face them every day? Learn how to help your employees focus on what matters for every customer. 

Coming up:

Managing Discipline        15/05/2019
Managing Performance   04/06/2019
Managing Change            24/07/2019

Cost per workshop: R730 pp; R685 pp for 3+ delegates. NPOs R645 pp.
To book, or discuss in-house workshops, contact Ian on 083 321 0699 or

14 MARCH 2019


TRAINER: Maureen Pevsner - Trainsmart
Due to the first course being fully booked we will run another session as follows:
Time:  08:30 – 13:00
Venue: Chamber House, Royal Showgrounds
COST (includes vat)
Members R675 p/p, R640 p/p for 3/more, R590 p/p for 5/more
Non-members R895 p/p, R875 p/p for 3/more, R850 p/p for 5/more 

This workshop focuses on building good relationships between staff and team leaders in the office.

• The focus in on attitude in the workplace – each and every day.
• How do we tolerate the “grumpy faced” colleague each day?
• Business etiquette, manners, dress sense, talking to colleagues.
• Change in gender perception (should we still let ladies walk through the door first?).
• Why was Peter promoted to Supervisor and not me?
• “It’s not my job”, I only answer the phone!
• Why do smokers get more “breaks” than we do?
• Timekeeping - absenteeism - coping with workforce change.
• Use of bad language, body language and poor communication.
• Recognise that people have different needs, attitudes, abilities and personalities.
Acceptance and tolerance are the key!
• Build your staff into a great team. 

All this and much more in this unique workshop which will ensure that your workplace has more smiles and laughter than frowns.

All levels of staff and team leaders, who wish to build better workplace relationships.


Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Dr Seuss

  financial indicators  
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These rates are correct at time of going to press.