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For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information Service on 1300 135 070 or Ross Upson on Canberra 02 6252 5644.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
This publication presents results, in respect of the 1998-99 financial year, from an ABS survey of businesses (management units) in the wholesale trade industry. Businesses in this industry are classified to Division F of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) which includes businesses whose main activity is the resale (as agents or principals) of new or used goods to businesses or to institutional (including Government) users. Division F (Wholesale Trade) of the ANZSIC is structured into 9 industry groups, which in turn are divided into 41 industry classes. The tables in this publication generally provide information at each of the levels, although the commentary, in the main, refers to the industry group level.
SIZE OF INDUSTRY
At the end of June 1999 there were 38,568 businesses operating in the wholesale trade industry. These businesses employed 429,386 persons and generated total income of $210,583 million.
Machinery and equipment wholesaling was the largest industry group accounting for 31% of all businesses, 33% of total employment, and 26% of total income for the wholesale trade industry.
Since 1991-92 the number of businesses primarily engaged in the wholesale trade industry has increased by 29% and employment has grown by 23%. Total income over the period increased by 48% which represented an annual growth rate of 6%. The Operating Profit Before Tax has increased by 138% during the period, an annual growth rate of 13%, resulting in a significant increase in the operating profit margin of the industry from 2.0% to 3.2%.
KEY FIGURES 1991-92 TO 1998-99
In 1998-99 the total profit generated by wholesalers was $6,728 million, an average of $174,500 per business. The Machinery and equipment wholesaling industry group contributed most to this total, recording a profit of $2,565 million or 38%. The only industry class to record an overall loss was Wool wholesaling which incurred a loss of $123 million, however the industry group to which it contributed, Farm produce wholesaling, reported a profit of $210 million.
Operating profit margin, which is the ratio of operating profit to operating income, was 3.2% for the industry as a whole. At the industry group level, operating profit margin ranged from 1.3% for Farm produce wholesaling to 4.7% for Machinery and equipment wholesaling.
SOURCES OF INCOME
SOURCES OF INCOME
Total income in 1998-99 of the wholesale trade industry was $210,583 million. Wholesale sales of $191,887 million accounted for 91% of total income, while retail sales and other service income were next highest accounting for 4% and 3% respectively. Other service income includes income generated from repair and maintenance activity, which is an integral part of the operations of some wholesalers. Commission income, (i.e. selling goods as an agent on behalf of other parties), made up only 1% ($2,321 million) of total income.
Machinery and equipment wholesaling, contributed the most to total income, accounting for $54,495 million or 26% of the industry total. The largest industry class was Car wholesaling ($16,528 million), which along with Computer wholesaling ($14,976 million), Electrical and electronic equipment wholesaling n.e.c. ($13,970 million) and Petroleum product wholesaling ($13,283 million) collectively represented 28% of total wholesale income.
Whilst the components of income, other than wholesale sales, are not significant at the total level, some industry classes generated a large proportion of income from other activities. Business machine wholesalers received 26% of their total income from the provision of services, while 16% of the total income of Petroleum product wholesalers was sourced from retail sales. Similarly, Car wholesalers and Commercial vehicle wholesalers generated 13% and 12% respectively from retail sales.
The profit or loss on foreign exchange transactions is reported as other income. In particular this affected the Farm and construction machinery wholesaling industry class accounting for a loss of $41 million in other income.
COMMODITY SALES AND MARGINS
The 1998-99 Wholesale Industry Survey collected information about wholesale sales (i.e. goods sold to other businesses or institutional users, including government) and the margins (calculated on selling price) associated with those sales for a wide range of commodities. These wholesale sales in total ($191,887 million) made up 91% of total income for the wholesale trade industry, however wholesalers also received $7,931 million income from retail sales (i.e. goods sold to final consumers for personal or household consumption).
In terms of broad commodity groupings, Machinery and equipment was the largest with a total value of $31,917 million and accounted for 17% of wholesale sales. The largest individual commodity in this grouping was Other industrial machinery and parts ($7,450 million). The Motor vehicles and associated goods commodity grouping was the next largest (16% of wholesale sales) followed by Food and groceries (15%). Of the individual commodities collected, the highest contributors were New car and passenger van sales to dealers of $9,282 million, and Computer hardware sales of $8,709 million, both contributing 5% to total wholesale sales.
The sales margins for the commodity items presented in Table 2.2 are calculated at gross value (as a percentage of selling price). The overall margin achieved by wholesalers in 1998-99 was $37,341 million or 19.5% of wholesale sales, however, margins vary significantly across individual commodities and commodity groups. Of the broad commodity groupings the highest margin of 30% was recorded for Clothing and footwear, followed by 27% for Builders' hardware and supplies and 26% for Furniture and floor coverings. The lowest margins recorded were 11% for Farm produce and supplies and 14% for Food and groceries.
For the individual commodities collected the highest margins were recorded for Pre-recorded audio media and video cassettes (53%) and Used motor vehicle parts and accessories (44%).
Total expenses in 1998-99 for the wholesale trade industry were $205,069 million. The largest single item of expenditure was purchases, which accounted for 79% ($162,689 million) of total expenses. Other major expenses included labour costs ($17,847 million) and other expenses ($15,725 million) which represented 9% and 8% of total expenses respectively.
The proportion of purchases in relation to total expenses was highest for Mineral, metal and chemical wholesaling at 86%. In contrast, purchases made up 71% of total expenses for the Textile, clothing and footwear group which is reflected in the high margins associated with the commodities sold by this industry group.
The three industry groups, Machinery and equipment wholesaling, Motor vehicle wholesaling, and Food, drink and tobacco wholesaling collectively accounted for 58% of the goods purchased and 62% of the labour cost expenses for the wholesale trade industry.
Builders supplies wholesaling had the highest contribution of labour costs to total expenses of all the industry groups at 14%, reflecting the shopfront activities of many of these businesses. In contrast, labour costs accounted for only 4% of total expenses in the Mineral, metal and chemical wholesaling group.
For the wholesale trade industry, wages and salaries at $15,238 million comprised the largest component of labour costs (85%). Employer superannuation contributions (i.e. the amounts paid by employers into superannuation funds on behalf of their employees), was the next highest component at $1,325 million or 7% of total labour costs. The remaining components of labour costs were payroll tax ($616 million), fringe benefits tax ($371 million) and workers' compensation costs ($297 million).
Depreciation, rent, leasing and hiring, advertising and interest expenses combined accounted for $8,808 million which represented some 4% of total expenses. The industry classes reporting the highest advertising expenses were Car wholesaling ($515 million), Commercial vehicle wholesaling ($275 million) and Pharmaceutical and toiletry wholesaling ($229 million). Together these industries accounted for $1,020 million (40%) of total advertising expenses for the wholesale trade industry.
Other operating expenses, which are not separately itemised, include expenses such as insurance premiums, repair and maintenance, motor vehicle running expenses and bad and doubtful debts.
Total employment in the wholesale trade industry at the end of June 1999 was 429,386 persons. Over two thirds (68%) of the industry employment were males.
The majority (84%) of employment was on a full-time basis with only 70,217 persons being employed on a part-time basis. The level of part-time employment varied considerably at the industry group level, ranging from just 9% for Machinery and equipment wholesaling and Motor vehicle wholesaling to 28% for Farm produce wholesaling.
The Machinery and equipment wholesaling group recorded the highest employment with 140,989 persons or 33% of the total wholesale industry employment. The industry group with the least employment was Household good wholesaling which had employment of 11,525 persons, which represented only 3% of total industry employment. Building supplies wholesaling n.e.c., with employment of 44,742 persons, representing 10% of total wholesale employment, was the largest individual industry class. This was closely followed by Electrical and electronic equipment wholesaling n.e.c. with employment of 39,697 persons (9%).
Male employment predominated in all industry groups except the Textile, clothing and footwear wholesaling industry (which reported 52% female employment). The industry groups with the highest proportion of male employment were Motor vehicle wholesaling at 77%, Machinery and equipment wholesaling at 73%, and Farm produce wholesaling and Mineral, metal and chemical wholesaling both at 71%.
STATE AND TERRITORY
STATE AND TERRITORY DIMENSION
Employment, wages and salaries, and total income were the only data items collected at State level in the 1998-99 Wholesale Industry Survey.
Data providers were asked to report employment and wages and salaries according to where employees were normally based. In reporting total income, businesses were asked to report sales of goods on the basis of the State or Territory from which the goods were despatched.
New South Wales and Victoria combined accounted for 63% of total employment (271,238 persons) and 65% of total income ($137,450 million). New South Wales was the largest contributor to the Australian totals, being responsible for 35% of employment and 36% of total income which was marginally higher than the New South Wales proportion (34%) of the Australian population. Victoria was the second largest contributor with 29% of both employment and total income, again in line with its share of the Australian population.
In terms of employment, the contributions of the remaining States/Territories were Queensland (15%), Western Australia (10%), South Australia (7%), Tasmania (2%), Northern Territory (1%) and the Australian Capital Territory (1%).
The Australian wages and salaries total was $15,238 million, an average of $35,500 for each person employed. New South Wales recorded the highest average of $38,000 and Tasmania the lowest with $27,800.
In terms of the number of businesses the wholesale trade industry was dominated by small businesses during 1998-99, with 92% (35,404 businesses) having fewer than 20 persons employed. These small businesses accounted for 40% of industry employment but only 27% ($55,975 million) of total income.
At 30 June 1999 there were only 189 businesses (less than 1% of all businesses) which employed 200 persons or more. However, these large businesses accounted for 26% of industry employment and 32% of industry income. The Machinery and equipment industry group dominated large businesses, accounting for 34% of businesses, 36% of employment and 30% of income.
Small businesses in the wholesale trade industry employed an average of 5 persons and generated $325,400 income per person employed. Medium businesses (i.e. employing between 20 and 199 persons) employed an average of 49 persons and generated an average income per person employed of $593,100. The 189 large businesses employed an average of 585 persons with an average income per person employed of $610,700.
This section presents a selection of performance measures by industry class for the wholesale trade industry.
While the operating profit margin for the industry as a whole was 3.2% there was considerable variation at the industry group level. At this level the operating profit margin ranged from 1.3% for Farm produce wholesaling to 4.7% for Machinery and equipment wholesaling. At the industry class level the variations were even more marked. Wool wholesaling was the only industry to record a negative operating profit margin (-3.7%), while the highest operating margin was recorded in Furniture wholesaling with 10.4%.
Operating profit before tax (OPBT) per person employed in the wholesale trade industry was $15,700. Again there was considerable variation at industry group level, with Mineral, metal and chemical wholesaling recording the highest OPBT per person employed ($31,200) and Builders supplies wholesaling the lowest ($8,200).
In 1998-99 labour costs amounted to $17,847 million which represented an average labour cost per employee of $42,300. Machinery and equipment wholesaling recorded the highest labour cost per employee ($49,300) while Builders supplies wholesaling recorded the lowest ($35,200).
Inventory turnover indicates the number of times that inventory were turned over by sales during the year. Inventory turnover was highest at 15 times in the Food, drink and tobacco wholesaling group where the inventory is often perishable, and lowest in Household good wholesaling at 4 times.
SCOPE AND COVERAGE
1 The scope of the Wholesale Industry Survey was all public and private employing businesses in Australia, recorded on the ABS Business Register with a predominant activity of wholesaling i.e ANZSIC Division F. The ABS defines a wholesale business as a business which is primarily engaged in the resale (as an agent or principal) of goods to other businesses or to institutional users, including Government. Businesses mainly engaged in wholesale trade are wholesale merchants who take title to the goods they sell; separate sales branches (not being retail stores) operated by manufacturing enterprises; commission agents; import and export agents and purchasing agents; petroleum products distributors; and cooperatives and marketing boards engaged in marketing farm products.
2 Approximately 4,600 businesses were selected using stratified random sampling techniques. All businesses with 50 or more employees and/or multi-State wholesaling businesses were selected in the sample.
3 Data in this publication have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABS Business Register, and the omission of some businesses from the Register. For more information, please refer to ABS Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (Cat. no. 1357.0).
4 The statistical results in this publication are based on the financial year ending 30 June 1999. In a minority of cases, where businesses did not account on a June-year basis, details were reported in respect of the accounting year that ended between 1 October 1998 and 30 September 1999.
5 The unit about which information was collected in the Wholesale Industry Survey is termed the management unit. The management unit is the highest-level accounting unit within a business, having regard for industry homogeneity, for which accounts are maintained. In nearly all cases it coincides with the legal entity owning the business (i.e. company, partnership, trust, sole operator, etc.). In the case of large diversified businesses, however, there may be more than one management unit, each coinciding with a 'division' or 'line of business'. A division or line of business is recognised where separate and comprehensive accounts are compiled for it.
CLASSIFICATION BY INDUSTRY
6 This publication presents statistics classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification, 1993 (Cat. no. 1292.0). Each business unit is classified to a single industry. The industry allocated is based on an estimate of the primary activity of the management unit irrespective of whether a range of activities or a single activity is undertaken by the unit. For example a management unit which derives most of its income from wholesaling activities would have all of its operations included in the aggregates for wholesaling, even if significant secondary activities (e.g. retailing) were undertaken.
CLASSIFICATION OF COMMODITIES
7 The product classification used in the 1998-99 Wholesale Industry Survey was formed by aggregating the 1,100 or so products in the Input/Output Product Classification taking into account how products sold by wholesale businesses are grouped in records and the need to comply with international standards.
8 The classification was produced in conjunction with that for the Retail Industry Survey to enable comparison of product information between the two surveys where appropriate.
9 This is the difference between the purchase price and the selling price of the commodity sold by the business and is generally expressed as a percentage of the selling price. The purchase price includes the wholesale price, sales tax and inward freight charges.
10 Information on the sales margin for each of the commodities published was collected in the form of a percentage value.
RELIABILITY OF THE DATA
11 The estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling error.
12 The estimates in this publication are based on information from a sample of businesses in the surveyed population. Consequently, the estimates in this publication are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if all units had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of units was included.
13 There are two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if a census had been conducted, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than 2 SEs.
RELATIVE STANDARD ERROR
14 Sampling variability can be measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSE is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to sampling, and thus avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate.
15 For example, the estimate of total income for Household appliance wholesaling is $3,152 million and the RSE is 6%, giving a SE of $189 million. Therefore, there would be two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, a figure in the range of $2,963 million to $3,341 million would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 that the figure would have been between $2,774 million and $3,530 million.
16 Information about the relative standard errors relating to key aggregates in this publication can be found in the table at the end of these Explanatory Notes.
17 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur because of deficiencies in the register of units from which the sample was selected, non-response, and imperfections in reporting by respondents. Inaccuracies of this kind are referred to as non-sampling errors and they may occur in any collection, whether it be a census or a sample.
18 While it is not possible to quantify non-sampling error, every effort has been made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems, and appropriate methodology.
19 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
Includes expenses associated with the promotion and publicity of the business and/or its products. It includes expenses paid to advertising agencies, and direct payments to radio, television and print media businesses.
Includes income received from work done on customers' materials and sales commission.
Depreciation and amortisation
Includes depreciation on buildings, other fixed tangible assets and lessees finance leases.
Includes working directors, and other permanent, temporary and casual employees, working for a business during the last pay period in June 1999. Employees absent on paid or prepaid leave are included. Working proprietors or partners of unincorporated businesses are excluded.
Employer superannuation contributions
Includes all employer provisions and contributions to superannuation schemes (including the employer productivity contribution).
Employer superannuation contributions
Includes all employer provisions and contributions to superannuation schemes (including the employer productivity contribution).
Includes employees and working proprietors and partners working for a business during the last pay period in June 1999. Employees absent on paid or prepaid leave are included.
Fringe Benefits Tax
Tax amounts paid by employers on the value of non-cash remuneration provided to employees.
Employees working 35 hours or more a week.
Includes interest paid on finance leases, on loans from banks, related and unrelated businesses and partners. Also included are interest equivalents such as hedging costs, and discounted bill expenses.
The reported total book value of inventories as at the beginning (for Opening inventories) and at the end (for Closing inventories) of the reporting period. The values reported are those as recorded on the businesses' balance sheets.
Is a ratio signalling the number of times that stock is turned over during the year. It is derived using an average level for inventories, i.e. cost of goods sold divided by average inventories (where average inventories is opening inventories plus closing inventories divided by two).
Includes wages and salaries, employer contributions to superannuation funds, —including salary sacrifice, workers' compensation costs, fringe benefits tax and payroll tax.
Labour costs per employee
Labour costs divided by number of employees, i.e. labour costs/employees.
Labour costs to total expenses
Labour costs divided by total expenses, i.e. labour costs/total expenses.
See under statistical units in Explanatory Notes, page 34.
Operating Profit Before Tax (OPBT)
A measure of profit before extraordinary items are brought into account and prior to the deduction of income tax and appropriations to owners.
Operating profit margin
Ratio of operating profit to income from: sales, services, commissions, royalties, and rent, lease and hiring; expressed as a percentage.
Includes insurance, land tax, bank charges, bad and doubtful debts, royalties, motor vehicle running costs, freight and cartage and computer software.
Includes interest, government funding, royalties and dividends.
Other service income
Includes repair and maintenance, provision of computer services and telecommunication services, delivery charges not elsewhere included, Installation fees, management and administration service fees and other specified and unspecificied service fees.
Employees working less than 35 hours a week.
A State and Territory tax levied on employers and based on the amount of wages and salaries paid.
Includes purchases of materials, components, containers, packages, fuels, electricity and water, and goods for resale.
Rent, leasing and hiring expenses
Includes costs for the rent, leasing (excluding finance leases) and hiring of vehicles, land, buildings, machinery, equipment and any other property from other businesses or individuals.
Rent, leasing and hiring income
Includes income received from the renting, leasing or hiring of assets such as land, buildings, vehicles, machinery or equipment to other businesses or individuals.
Sales of goods to final consumers for personal or household consumption.
See under sales margin in Explanatory Notes.
The total operating expenses of a business, excluding extraordinary items.
The total operating income of a business, excluding extraordinary items.
Total income per person employed
Total income divided by number of persons employed, i.e. total income/employment.
Wages and salaries
Gross earnings of all employees before taxation and other deductions.
Sales of goods to businesses and institutional users.
Includes the costs of, and provisions for, insurance premiums and any other costs not reimbursed by insurers.
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