Popular British fashion chain Topshop has revealed plans to open a flagship store on Queen St and eventually establish a nationwide bricks-and-mortar presence in New Zealand.

So what does this mean for Hallenstein Glasson?

The NZX-listed clothing retailer, which operates the Hallensteins, Glassons and Storm clothing stores in New Zealand and Australia, has already been hit by margin-sapping discounting, the result of intense competition with its existing rivals. In March the company posted a 40 per cent drop in first-half profit, to $6.2 million.

Topshop and its men's fashion offshoot Topman specialise in the latest catwalk trends, mass produced at affordable prices, and the two brands release hundreds of new pieces every week.

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Hallenstein Glasson will face a formidable competitor if the excitement expressed by young Kiwi social media users about Topshop's imminent expansion is anything to go by.

"NZ fashion's about to get one mega wake up call that is well overdue," wrote a Facebook user.

One analyst said Topshop - especially Topman, which would be a particularly strong competitor for Hallensteins - would undoubtedly put increased pressure on the listed firm.

But the New Zealand retailer had proved resilient to new competitors in the past, the analyst added.

Hallenstein Glasson shares, which have shed 40 per cent in the past 12 months, closed down 4c at $3.30 last night.

ABANO VOTE

Abano Healthcare chairman Trevor Janes' future with the company could be decided by retail investors at a special meeting.

Rebel shareholders Peter Hutson and James Reeves - who together own roughly 19 per cent of the NZX-listed firm whose businesses include Lumino The Dentists - are unhappy with the financial performance of Abano's dental clinics and have been running a campaign to dump Janes.

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A special meeting, during which shareholders will vote on a single resolution to remove Janes from the board, is expected to take place in Auckland next month.

Abano chief executive Alan Clarke said the company understood it had strong support from its institutional shareholders, which include Fisher Funds, ACC and Milford Asset Management. But it's less clear which way retail investors - who own 30 to 35 per cent of the company, according to Clarke - will vote.

Clarke said 50 per cent of those present at the meeting, including proxies, would need to vote against Janes for him to be dumped.

"This matter will actually be decided by the smaller shareholders - not the big institutional block shareholders." With that in mind, Clarke and Abano chief operating officer Richard Keys are embarking on a national roadshow talking to retail brokers and advisers about the resolution.

ASSOCIATION SUPPORT

The Shareholders Association came out in support of Janes yesterday.

Chairman John Hawkins said while Hutson was critical of the dental business, he "conveniently neglects" to mention the poor performance of Abano's audiology division that he was chief executive of until recently.

A number of the rebel shareholders' claims were directly contradicted by "documentary evidence", Hawkins said.

He said retail investors would make a big difference to the special meeting's outcome and it was essential they cast their votes or appointed a proxy. The association would vote undirected proxies against the proposal to remove Janes.

Hutson said the association's release "could have been written on Abano letterhead".
"We will address this matter fully in an appropriate public forum."

BIKKIES ON THE BOURSE?

Australia's Pacific Equity Partners is racing to take advantage of a resurgent Aussie IPO market and is forging ahead with listing plans for a number of businesses in its portfolio.

The company is planning an up to A$1 billion float of a 50 per cent stake in its cleaning and catering business, Spotless, which the private equity firm purchased less than two years ago for A$723 million ($780 million). If all goes well it could be the biggest Australian listing since 2010.

Two additional PEP businesses - Peters Ice Cream and SCA Hygiene, a joint venture with a Swedish firm that manufactures toilet paper, nappies and personal care products in New Zealand and Australia - are also destined for the sharemarket, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The Australian reported this month that PEP-owned biscuitmaker Griffin's could also go for an initial public offer this year. Griffin's, which PEP attempted to sell in 2011, reported a net profit of $20.5 million for the 2012 calender year, up from $8.2 million a year earlier.

If anything, a biscuit listing would add some flavour into an IPO mix that's likely to be dominated by technology floats this year. However, a source close to PEP said the company had no plans to float Griffin's.

INTUERI LISTING

Private training provider Intueri Education Group will list on the NZX today for $2.35 a share.

Intueri, which is being spun out of its Australian-listed parent Arowana International, is expected to become New Zealand's biggest private training establishment - by domestic students - with 6000 local enrolments and a further 1000 international students each year, across 26 locations.

It also owns half of Online Courses Australia.

The $2.35 share price will give Intueri a market capitalisation of around $235 million.
Arowana will use $60 million of the cash raised in the offer to pay for Intueri's acquisition of Quantum Education Group.

WAKE UP CALL

Financial Markets Authority boss Rob Everett says the volatility that has hit technology equities this year has been a "good warning" for investors.

Local stocks including online accounting systems developer Xero and cancer diagnosis provider Pacific Edge have been knocked about amid a global re-evaluation of growth-oriented stocks, whose valuations have soared over the past couple of years. Xero shares, for example, opened at $32.50 yesterday - 28 per cent below the all-time high of $44.98 they hit in March.

Pacific Edge shares opened at $1, 42.5 per cent down on their record high of $1.74 in January.

Everett said investors should always consider the worst case scenario when making investment decisions.

"It [the recent tech volatility] is a good warning to people," he said.

"They need to be mindful that there's no guarantee that markets go up and working out what you can afford to lose is a key part of any investment decision."

His warning is probably even more pertinent given the upcoming launch of the NZX's new growth market, which places more onus on investors to do their homework.