Harris Technology is closing half its 10 stores nationally as part of plans to realign resources to online, call centre and small business services.
Officeworks and Harris Technology managing director, Mark Ward, said it would retain one store in each Australian capital city but close down the remainder, including its heritage North Sydney shop front, by December 31. The retailer has already shutdown its Parramatta store in NSW, and Dandenong in Victoria.
Its five remaining business centres are North Ryde (NSW), Hawthorn (Victoria), Osborne Park (WA), Fyshwick (ACT) and Fortitude Valley (Queensland).
Ward said the changes were part of a business overhaul announced in June.
“It’s about restructuring Harris Technology to what it was when it was most successful, which was a focus on call centres and the website,” he told ARN. “When Harris started, some people were concerned about buying via the Internet, so we set-up a business centre in each state for those who wanted to stop into a store, get more advice, or touch and feel the product. It was a low-clicks business supplemented with a low-cost bricks business.
“But it became a high-cost bricks business… there was no long-term future for the model in place.”
Ward said about 60 per cent of Harris’ sales came from physical stores today, compared to 20 per cent when it was established. He defined the retailer’s customer base as small businesses and professional technology shoppers.
“We will still have significant business centres in the major capital cities, but we’re turning back the clock and making it a web and call centre-led business,” he said.
Ward said all staff from closed stores would be relocated either to Officeworks stores, a remaining Harris business centre, or into its SMB services team. The services team was established earlier this year from the remnants of North Sydney-based integrator and Harris subsidiary, Portable Computer Systems (PCS).
He said it planned to expand its small business services unit nationally. It has five people in Sydney.
“PCS was sitting out on the side – it didn’t make a lot of sense, so we have meshed that team into ours to leverage the Harris Technology brand,” Ward said. “The business sales team deal more in solutions, rather than a specific product.
“We won’t chase very big customers – that’s not our game and we can’t compete. But we can service those small businesses well with our product range and provide good guidance and advice.”
The decision to cut physical stores follows a similar move by fellow North Sydney-based retailer, City Software, which closed two stores to place a stronger focus on online and call centre sales.
Harris sits under the Coles Group, which was acquired by Wesfarmers in July 2007.