A new building services group is creating opportunities to boost Aboriginal employment in construction.
Gerard Matera is helping turn positive sentiment around Aboriginal reconciliation in the business community into genuine change through indigenous-owned building company Marawar.
Mr Matera, brother of former West Coast Eagles players Peter and Phil Matera, established Marawar Building Services about 12 months ago, responding to what he believed was a gap in the building and construction market.
Mr Matera told Business News that while there were widespread opportunities for Aboriginal people to engage in the mining industry in Western Australia, there was little participation in building and construction, particularly in Perth and the South West.
“In WA, there are approximately 33,000 apprentices in training,” he said.
“Out of those figures, only 741 apprentices are Aboriginal.
“And in Perth and the South West, in Nyoongar country, there are fewer than 90 Aboriginal people in the building trades.”
Mr Matera said there was considerable opportunity to increase participation, with large corporates and government agencies increasingly seeking better engagement with Aboriginal-owned businesses.
However, despite a willingness to engage, he said there had been challenges in turning sentiment into opportunity.
“A lot of the companies that are participating in government contracts and the private sector generally have some sort of achievement document or Reconciliation Action Plan, or some sort of guidelines that say they want to engage meaningfully with Aboriginal people on construction jobs, but no-one is policing it, no-one is really making sure that they are engaging and it is meaningful,” he said.
“A lot of times there is reluctance to give a contract to an Aboriginal business; it’s usually entry-level contracts that don’t really make a big difference.
“I’m looking for long-term contracts where I can employ tradies and apprentices, which is what we set out to do in the first place.
Mr Matera said his aim for Marawar, which is 50 per cent owned by building and development firm M/Group, was to become the WA building industry’s biggest employer of Aboriginal people.
“At the moment we are sitting at about 40 per cent Aboriginal participation, and that is through apprenticeships and traineeships,” Mr Matera told Business News.
“We are also employing Aboriginal tradies who are taking on an Aboriginal apprentice, which I think is really key.
“I don’t think anyone other than us is actually putting together an Aboriginal apprentice with an Aboriginal tradie. It makes a massive difference.”
Marawar recently signed a major contract that goes some way to achieving the company’s lofty goal, collaborating with M/Group’s M/Construction to build a Bunnings Warehouse in Albany on behalf of Wesfarmers.
That deal was followed by a contract with another Wesfarmers-owned brand, Officeworks, to refurbish and paint all of its stores in WA.
Marawar is also building social housing for the Department of Communities, a deal that Mr Matera said made the company the first Aboriginal-owned business in WA to build multi-storey apartment projects for people on social welfare.
In December, Marawar signed two more significant deals to provide maintenance work for the Department of Finance.
Along with the job opportunities, Mr Matera said Marawar was helping to dismiss negative perceptions of indigenous work ethic and Aboriginal-owned businesses.
“A lot of people think that Aboriginal businesses just get awarded these contracts, but you actually don’t,” he said.
“You have to be competitive and commercial and provide the right quality.
“Yes, we tick a box in that we are an Aboriginal business, but you can’t be more expensive and you can’t provide a crap service. It’s the same process.
“Being Aboriginal, and I’ve felt this personally, I think the client always thinks that we are not going to provide a good service and we are not going to provide quality.
“So there is a constant effort to try and change people’s perceptions of what an Aboriginal business actually is and what it can provide.”
M/Group managing director Lloyd Clark said the joint ownership of Marawar provided far-reaching benefits across the company’s entire operation.
“The introduction of Marawar has not only been embraced by the Perth business sector, it has also engendered a sense of purpose within our staff environment,” Mr Clark told Business News.
“Suddenly our work has taken on greater significance and there is a new level of pride in what we are achieving.”
Dan Wilkie, Business News
Secure Income is Key in New East Perth InvestmentRead more
M/Group’s propensity to identify and secure extraordinarily stable income producing property investment opportunities continues with its latest investment fund release for a high-profile commercial property in East Perth.
The company is seeking to raise $5.8 million for the well-located office building at 130 Royal Street.
The property is fully occupied by longstanding tenants from a diverse range of industries and is centrally located close to the CBD, transport, main roads, restaurants, cafes and retail outlets. It is also in close proximity to Optus Stadium, Crown Casino Perth and the Matagarup Bridge that connects East Perth to Burswood Peninsular. Importantly all tenants have renewed (or are in the process of renewing) their leases in the last 2 years.
The investment fund is targeting an 8.5% per annum return on investment paid monthly and with a WALE (Weighted Average Lease Expiry) of over four years.
M/Group Managing Director, Mr Lloyd Clark, said the property was again secured by M/Group in an off market negotiation and is based on an investment framework that has been highly successful with the company’s other funds.
“M/Group’s is so proud of its ability to attract reoccurring investment and oversubscribing on funds. It is testament to our strategy and the standard of investment opportunities we continue to deliver,” he said.
“This latest fund release is underpinned by strong investment fundamentals. It’s location and strong tenancy leaves little risk in achieving positive returns. We have no doubt the opportunity will be welcomed by our network of investors.”
The Royal Street property sits on a land area of 751sqm, where the building itself comprises a total net lettable area of 1,857 sqm with typical floor plates of 585 sqm. It offers 27 secure undercover car parking bays and has an environmental rating of 4-star NABERS and is BEEC certified.
M/Group Director of Asset Management, Mr James Collis, believes demand for this class of investment opportunity is high, especially with bank interest rates being at an all time low.
“Given the lack of return being paid by banks, investors are seeking secure investments that can provide a high yield and paid regularly.
“M/Group works to a proven strategy and packages its opportunities for minimal risk and maximum returns. We have demonstrated exceptional capacity to deliver on this criterion, and our track record speaks for itself.”
The investment period for 130 Royal Street, East Perth will span over seven years with a minimal investment requirement of $50,000.
OUR TOWN | Fremantle EpisodeRead more
We are pleased to announce that Match was part of the OUR TOWN Fremantle episode that aired on Channel 7 & GWN7 on the 24th August 2019, which featured Heirloom by Match & M/27 Apartments by Match.
Unique Regional Opportunity on the Cards at Chester Pass MallRead more
Property company, M/Group, has submitted a development application (DA) to the City of Albany that could introduce a Bunnings Warehouse to the Chester Pass Mall shopping precinct.
Approval of the application would see the existing Bunnings currently located on Albany Highway relocate to a 14,000sq.m purpose-designed space. A number of additional improvements to Chester Pass Mall would also be made, including carpark shelters and upgrades by other retailers.
M/Group Director, Mr James Collis, said introducing a new Bunnings to the area will be a welcome addition to the precinct and could expand Chester Pass Mall’s its catchment across Great Southern region.
“In addition to the 35,000 people within Albany, we anticipate that families throughout the Greater Southern region will travel long distances to shop here. This puts Chester Pass Mall in an extremely unique position and could provide benefits to all businesses in Albany,” he said.
“The approval of our development application would create a shopping experience that complements surrounding retail found along Chester Pass Mall and offers improved traffic management and parking to home improvement customers.”
Bunnings Director of Property Andrew Marks said should the development application be approved the new store will provide Albany residents with an even wider range of home improvement and outdoor living products in a bigger and better store.
“The new Bunnings Warehouse development will feature a fully enclosed timber yard, nursery, more car parking for our customers as well as offering job opportunities for local residents.
“All of our team members from the existing Albany store will transfer to the new store once complete and will continue to be on hand to provide customers with expert advice on their D.I.Y projects.
M/Group National Shopping Centre Manager, Ms Cherie Daly, said she is confident that a Bunnings in the area will be welcomed by the community.
“I’ve no doubt that a larger Bunnings will be welcomed by both the local and extended community,” she said.
“Should our DA plans be approved, Albany would see an injection of $15 million of investment during the construction phase alone.”
While a Chester Pass mall centre refurbishment is also being strategised for the longer-term future, plans are yet to be confirmed.
Construction Commences on M/Group’s Second QuestRead more
Construction on a 56 room (112 key) Quest Apartment hotel in Ascot has commenced following the successful completion of a $11.5 million development fund by M/Group and subsequent settlement of the 2,211sq.m development site. It is the second property undertaken by M/Group for the apartment hotel giant, with the first in Joondalup currently nearing completion.
The Quest Apartment Hotel in Ascot is located at 266 Great Eastern Highway, near Perth Airport and enroute to the Perth CBD. Its strategic location is in close proximity to Ascot racecourse, Optus Stadium, Crown Casino, Perth CBD and Perth airport, and is serviced by a road network that will see some 63,000 vehicles pass the site each day.
The property is being constructed by M/Group’s building division, M/Construction, which is currently engaged on a number of multi-residential and commercial projects across Perth, including Quest Joondalup.
M/Group Managing Director, Mr Lloyd Clark, said M/Group’s recent success and track record in fully subscribing property funds suggests a thirst in the market for secure investments.
“It’s difficult to dispute the investment potential and returns of a project that has a long- term lease agreement with a multi-national operation, as well as an independent valuation uplift created through the development delivery process,” he said.
“Quest Ascot is one of several property funds M/Group has successfully subscribed, largely due to a group of investors that now follow our projects based on our capacity to deliver.”
Quest is Australia’s largest apartment hotel operator by number of properties and is the second largest by the number of rooms. The Ascott Limited (wholly owned by Singapore’s CapitaLand) owns 80% of Quest . It has over 43,000 operating serviced residence units in key cities around the world with a further 31,000 units under development. Ascott is the largest serviced residence provider in Australiasia and is targeting to double its global portfolio to 160,000 units over five years.
The Quest Ascot development project was negotiated by M/Group in an off-market arrangement.
“We are delighted by our growing investment portfolio and the success it has had in recent months. Some of our investment offers have out-performed expectation, which both demonstrates a solid model and market interest for income-generating funds,” Mr Clark continued.
“We are currently working on a number of new opportunities to meet investor demand.”
M/Group is an integrated property organisation that has over $185 million of Investor funds under management with a projected asset value of approximately $1 billion. The company recently expanded its portfolio to the eastern states to add to its string of regional shopping centres with one centre recording an independent valuation uplift of $10.5million in under a year.
For more information or an investment prospectus contact email@example.com or (08) 6380 0400.
Rivers Australia Triggers Flow of Improvements at Pialba PlaceRead more
The first in a series of anticipated improvements promised by the new owners of Pialba Place has been announced. Rivers Australia has signed a five-year lease agreement and is scheduled to arrive at the centre in or around August this year.
Rivers Australia is one of Australia’s most recognised fashion brands with stores located across the country.
Mr James Collis, Director at M/Group who is the new centre owner, said the new lease agreement is an early indication of great things to come, as M/Group takes further steps to evolve Hervey Bay’s local community shopping hub.
“When M/Group acquired Pialba Place in February, it did so on the premise of improving the shopping experience for customers with the introduction of a broader retail mix and the creation of an environment to suit a diverse demographic,” he said.
“It’s clear that our vision has already caught the attention of significant retail players such as Rivers. This is not only great for the local community, but also a wonderful indication of things to come.”
Rivers will occupy a space on the left-hand side of the Big W Mall and will complement the affordable fashion offer at the Centre.
Its arrival will prompt a series of relocations of existing tenants and Centre Management is working to ensure minimal disruption.
Group Centre Manager, Ms Cherie Daly, said Rivers is the first of several initiatives being introduced at the Centre, and the community can expect more exciting announcements over the coming months.
“We are extremely grateful to the commitment of our existing tenants who play a significant role in helping us deliver a great outcome for the shopping centre,” she said.
“In the coming months we hope to be announcing more new retailers and plans for a refurbishment. The company has developed a good track record in this regard and we’re so pleased that the Hervey Bay community will be reaping the benefits.”
M/Group currently owns and manages Wodonga Plaza in Victoria and Chester Pass Mall in Albany Western Australia, which both have recently received significant investment through development planning and refurbishment, attracting new tenancies and an improved shopping experience.