In the face of falling hardware prices and increasing competition from rival mainstream retailers, Harvey Norman Holdings has managed to grow its computers and communications business by 18 per cent to $425 million during the financial year.
The figures were a very pleasing result, according to Harvey Norman's general manager, computers and communications, Tony Gattari, who said that the figures quoted were better than he expected and excluded sales from the two stores the company owns in New Zealand.
"We were very happy with the result," said Gattari. "The thing that is important to remember is that the unit growth is more like 30 per cent. Because we have been delivering lower prices on the products we sell, the financial growth is only 18 per cent.
"Canon printers dropped from $299 to $169 during last financial year and the price of the average PC is $500 cheaper than it was last year. So, in that environment of price deterioration, we think 18 per cent looks pretty impressive," he added.
With recent acquisitions of Joyce Mayne in NSW, Loughran's Living in Tasmania and Wesfarmers in regional Western Australia (see ARN, July 22, 1998); Harvey Norman now has 82 stores across all states of Australia, except South Australia and Northern Territory. Stores planned for those two markets are slated to open in 1999.
Gattari attributed the sales growth to Harvey Norman's expansion of operations, a broadening of its product range as well as aggressive marketing and pricing strategies. He also indicated that Windows 98 was big boost and that an initial order of 35,000 copies sold out several weeks before it was expected to.
While being of the opinion that the new financial year will bring new challenges which will make that growth rate hard to sustain, he is confident that similar results will be achieved.