MIDDAY UPDATE: Oz ship 'crawling with beetles' held in Wgtn

By Paul McBeth

Nov. 23 (BusinessDesk) - An Australian ship has been detained in Wellington after biosecurity officials found the vessel to be "crawling with beetles" as it came to collect logs.

The AAL Brisbane was found to have an infestation of the plague soldier beetle Chauliognathus lugubris, a native of south-western and south-eastern Australia named for its habit of forming huge mating swarms and with potential to be harmful to New Zealand insects, or carry diseases and other pests.

The AAL Brisbane, which arrived in Wellington to pick up a cargo of logs, was targeted for a full inspection on arrival by the Ministry for Primary Industries after a recent spate of live beetle finds on vessels arriving from Melbourne, the ministry said in a statement.

Biosecurity has come under pressure to step up its game in recent months after copping flak over the introduction of the Psa vine bacteria decimating kiwifruit orchards.

Warehouse sees customers buying more

Warehouse Group, the country's biggest listed retailer, is seeing consumers spending more on non-food items after several years of shying away from boosting their expenditure, and is banking on making a bigger profit in the 2013 financial year.

Chairman Graham Evans told shareholders at today’s annual meeting that adjusted profit in the 2013 year will likely beat the $65.2 million and the retailer will update that guidance when it releases first-half earnings in March. Warehouse sees signs of growth in non-food retail sales and expects further improvement in the coming year.

The company’s earnings will be “significantly influenced” by the January quarter, which includes the Christmas trading period, Evans said.

Other retailers have downplayed the prospects of strong Christmas trading, with children’s clothing chain Pumpkin Patch this week signalling stores are still discounting their wares.

The shares were unchanged at $3.15 in trading today.

Precinct Properties stock slides after govt spurns Bowen Campus in property review

Shares in Precinct Properties sank 2.5 percent to a month-low 99.5 cents after the government passed over the Wellington-based commercial property investor's Bowen Campus in a contract to supply as much as 60,000 square metres of office space to several departments.

The listed property investor agreed to buy the 10-storey Bowen State and 15-storey Charles Fergusson buildings from Capital Properties (Wellington), a member of the AMP Capital Property Portfolio, in April for $50.4 million.

The site is 97 percent occupied, mainly by the Ministry of Social Development on a lease that runs through to at least March 2015. The ministry is among state agencies involved in the government’s Property Management Centre of Expertise (PMCOE) which in August sought proposals from the market for between 50,000 and 60,000 square metres of space for delivery between 2014 and 2017 in Wellington.

(BusinessDesk)

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