Harvey's Eastmead hits consulting trail

Harvey's Eastmead hits consulting trail

Harvey Norman Online's former proprietor, Richard Eastmead, is preparing to hit the consulting trail after an unsuccessful attempt to revolutionise the retailer's approach to e-tailing.

And despite HN boss Gerry Harvey's continued mockery of the Internet, he's not bitter.

"Gerry and I actually agree on a lot of stuff regarding the Internet," Eastmead said, citing the hype surrounding many e-tailers as an example.

"But he and I disagree on what the current opportunities are for the Internet.

Gerry has a very one dimensional view of the Internet."In an honest appraisal of Harvey Norman Online, Eastmead said it has a very low visitor/buyer conversion rate. "It was insignificant business." But on the upside, he reports customers often check out pricing online before taking the information into a store.

As for Harvey's recent comments that any "$35K per year kid" could run Harvey Norman online, Eastmead considers it water off a duck's back. "I didn't take that personally."Eastmead is currently nursing a broken shoulder after a skiing accident, but said he has already had calls from business contacts regarding possible work.

But he sounded a note of caution at the impact of leaving Harvey Norman. "It's like coming out of a marriage. You don't really want to hop straight back into a relationship."Meanwhile, when asked if he would pursue a similar career path as fellow ex-Harvey Norman friend Tony Gattari into e-tail or even Gattari's operation he said: "I don't think so".

Eastmead feels that after so many years in retail and more recently e-tail, he has something to offer. "I think there is such a lack of understanding of what the Internet's about," he said.

Dot-com's need to focus on developing real business plans. "We're not a mail order country."

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