ASX-listed mass merchant, Harvey Norman, has announced that the company continues to experience solid growth, reporting a 9.3 per cent increase in sales for the 2002/03 fiscal year.
Sales at Harvey Norman stores totaled $3.17 billion for the year ended June 30, 2003, up 14.4 per cent on the $2.77 billion the company reported for the prior financial year.
While the company did not release figures on sales in each category, general manager of computing, John Slack-Smith, said the computing category experienced double digit growth during the financial year.
All four major product areas (computer hardware, software, printing and imaging and communication products) experienced significant growth on the prior year.
“We made some conscious decisions to invest more time and resources into the printing and imaging and communications product areas,” Slack-Smith said. “That has created a stronger and more robust structure for our business than at any other time since we started operating computing superstores twelve years ago.”
Slack-Smith said there were several factors aiding the growth.
He said the buying cycle for IT hardware is “switching back on”, that notebook sales were a “shining star” for the category, and that initiatives such as Telstra’s push into broadband and Microsoft’s push into gaming (X-Box) had opened up a slew of new opportunities.
Slack-Smith said his team had a very demanding approach to its own performance expectations. At the start of every financial year it spent four to five weeks analysing figures and attempting to predict the growth areas for the next 12 months.
“We are very tough on ourselves when we set the sales targets,” he said. “The results rarely surprise us — they are pre-meditated.”
Slack-Smith is bullish about the coming financial year, and is most excited about the burgeoning digital camera category.
“Digital cameras will take off over the next two years,” he said. “This coming year, expect 400 per cent growth for that category”.
Again, the company opened a slew of new outlets during the year —15 of which were in Australia and New Zealand. It also saw the mass merchant begin trialing new “express stores” in areas of high traffic for the sale of fast-moving IT items.