The Friday SMB wrap-up

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Welcome to Friday! As always, we’ve wrapped up the week’s most important small business headlines for all you time-strapped SMB owners. This week, the Personal Property Securities Register came into being, Woolworths announced it will sell its Dick Smith Electronics chain and business confidence and conditions results for December were released.

Pizza franchise plans aggressive Sydney expansion

Pizza Capers will open 25 stores in the Sydney region this year, in response to “huge demand” from the market.

The aggressive expansion plan will see Pizza Capers take its total store numbers to 130 in Australia and Singapore, with the franchise having doubled its footprint in the past two years alone.

Co-founder Scott Geiszler said the business regularly receives emails, letters and Facebook posts from customers asking them to set-up shop in Sydney.

Calling women in business! CBA Women in Focus competition kicks off

Local women are being invited to enter the Commonwealth Bank Women in Focus Community Builders competition series, and share their stories to go in the running to win a trip to Mt Kilimanjaro or New York Fashion Week.

The first competition gives entrants the chance to win $5,000 to host their own International Women’s Day event in March, and the second will provide one volunteer with the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of children in a remote Northern Territory community. The prize is part of the Indi-Kindi program, which aims to improve literacy and numeracy among 0-5 year old children in remote bush communities.

Business confidence up slightly, conditions flat

Business confidence improved slightly in December despite challenging economic conditions in the Eurozone, though conditions remained flat across the majority of industries.

Business confidence rose 1 point to +3, according to the latest NAB Monthly Business Survey, but still sits below the long-run average of +6. The result is a good sign for businesses though, given the ongoing instability in the Eurozone.

“At the time the monthly survey was taken, data out of the United States was more positive, while the fear of a European debt crisis remained very elevated,” the survey said.

What you need to know about the new Work Health and Safety Act

The NSW Government implemented a number of regulations governing workplace health and safety (WHS) just before Christmas, and legal experts are warning SMBs to pay better attention to the legislation and how it impacts their workplace and workers.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) and accompanying regulations and codes of practice provide further clarity regarding how the national Model Work Health and Safety Laws will be applied in the NSW jurisdiction, the team at Kemp Strang said.

Under the new laws, employers and anyone classified as a company ‘officer’, have a duty to ensure they understand the codes and regulations relevant to their business, and how they apply to their workplace and their workers.

Number of new businesses rises, but SMBs remain vulnerable

The number of trading businesses in Australia rose 0.4 percent in 2010-11, thanks to an increase in new business registrations and a decline in exit rates, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said.

As of June 2011, there were 2.13 million actively trading businesses, as the sector continued to bounce back from negative growth rates during the Global Financial Crisis. In the 2009-10 financial year, business numbers grew 3.6 percent, compared with the previous year, when they declined -1 percent.

Westpac to slash up to 400 jobs

Westpac will cut around 400 jobs from its head office, technology and operations teams this year, to compensate for a slow down in loan growth.

Spokesman Supreet Gosal said the bank has identified 560 roles that would be affected, but as some employees will be moved into other roles within the bank, Westpac expects between 300 and 400 jobs will be lost.