Harvey Norman has signalled its plans for aggressive growth with the recent restructuring of its IT division into four independently run business units.
The four pillars of the retailer’s IT business are now hardware, communications, software, and imaging and printing. The new structure replaces the old computer and communications division.
Harvey Norman director and general manager of the Computer Division, John Slack-Smith, is still at the helm of the IT business. The four new divisional heads will report to him. They are: Paul Schnell (hardware), Nerida Pearse (print), Colin Wright (communications) and Carlo di Clemente (software).
Di Clemente is a new addition to the management team. He was a Harvey Norman franchisee in WA, and made the move to Sydney last week to take up his new position. He replaces Erica Berchtold, who has left Harvey Norman to take up a position with Rebel Sport.
The seeds of the restructure had been planted as long as two years ago, when Harvey Norman saw an opportunity in the communications sector, Slack-Smith said.
This was followed 18 months ago by the printing and imaging business, he said.
The restructure, along with logistical tweaks across the Harvey Norman chain, had been necessary to position the IT business for future growth, Slack-Smith said.
The retailer had to diversify its offering to offer customers a better experience and maintain growth, he said.
“In years gone by, we were so reliant on PCs and software,” he said.
Making the IT units independent would make them more effective, Slack-Smith said.
“We need to drill down to the micro-economic opportunities within the different categories. We couldn’t do it under the old structure,” he said. Harvey Norman has also instituted improvements across its business, to improve inventory data and delivery logistics processes.
The chain had spent a “significant amount” on improving information systems “to ensure both stock control and ROI of stock in stores continues to go north,” Slack-Smith said.
The changes were part of a constant honing process which was a reality for any retail trader, he said.
“The great evil inside IT retailing is stock management – systems and management of life cycles. Notebooks, digital cameras, CD burners – are not places for the fainthearted," Slack-Smith said.
Harvey Norman had also worked with key suppliers including Tech Pacific and HP to improve its supply chain, said Slack-Smith.
For more on this story, see this week's issue of ARN.