Harvey Norman will be a notable absentee from all PC shows for the foreseeable future, following an edict from chairman Gerry Harvey that the group's resources should be concentrated in-store.
According to group computer controller Tony Gattari, Harvey Norman's huge investment in real estate means it would rather have people buy within its stores than at shows. "It's a purely economic decision. We initially went into shows as a way of becoming established. I think we've successfully achieved that, and I think the rationale for going into shows now is no longer valid."
This decision means Harvey Norman won't be appearing at PC96 in Melbourne, although it did appear at PC96 in Sydney. It has also withdrawn from the Advantage 96 show for the SOHO and education market to be held in Sydney in November, and will not be appearing at Sydney's PC97. AES exhibition director Chris Murray says Harvey Norman has never participated in the Melbourne show, so its absence is no surprise.
According to Gattari, Harvey Norman has been a participant in the Melbourne Home PC show, but after this decision the retailer will not be appearing at the show. Gattari says Harvey Norman has been investing huge resources in Victoria, with store openings at Moorabbin and Maribyrnong and another soon at Preston. This compounded the decision not to participate in PC96 Melbourne. "What we found is that we take sales away from our shops when the shows go on. It's also an enormous drain of our resources, and those resources are probably better spent in the stores."
Notable absentees from the Sydney show will also not be putting in an appearance in Melbourne, including AST, Compaq and Lotus. IBM is putting together a joint stand featuring both its hardware and software groups.
AST's marketing manager Darren Besgrove says while his company is returning to the US Comdex exhibition, locally the money can be better spent elsewhere. "I'm sure the resellers would prefer to have the money spent on themselves, rather than us spending the best part of $100,000 on a stand," he said.
AES's Murray said that Compaq has chosen to book a significant amount of space in the Melbourne Home PC show. He said it will feature a large display from US chip manufacturer AMD amongst the regular exhibitors.
In other news related to Harvey Norman, the retailer is celebrating the first anniversary of the release of Windows 95 with a weekend sale on August 24Ð25, featuring large discounts on many products. While the sale may have a Microsoft focus, Gattari says it will feature products from across the industry that offer outstanding savings. He adds that as an incentive to get people into the store, a number of discounts will be offered. An advertising blitz will promote the sale. "We had great success with Windows 95," said Gattari. "We're certainly going to do some spectacular things - and who knows, we might make it a yearly event."