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Harvey Norman CEO Running Scared? Blasts 'Lazy Journalists'

By Oonagh Reidy | Friday | 01/03/2013

Harvey Norman's Ireland CEO criticises lazy journalists as he looks to defend sales results.

The grass ain't always greener: Harvey Norman store, Belfast
Harvey Norman Ireland CEO Blaine Callard wrote to Channel News demanding a change to a report published yesterday on Harvey Norman's results.

The report, which mainly focused on Harvey's Australian figures (since we are an Australian publication), alluded to Harvey Norman Ireland's total sales, which fell 5% in the Republic, and 40% in Northern Ireland.

Channel News also reported Harvey's global 'like for like' sales decreased 5.3%.

However, the Harvey Norman Ireland CEO insisted we include his operations 'like-for-like' sales (which excludes store closures/new openings), which he pointed out were up 8.7% in the Republic and 16.3% in Northern Ireland.

Callard insisted changes to the story should be made saying: "this is important for me, because many lazy Irish journalists simply cut and paste from articles like yours."

"There are almost no retailers in Ireland growing" he added.

In July last, Harvey Norman Ireland announced a major reorganisation of its operation after reporting an operating loss of A$38.6m in 2011.

Callard may not realise the competent Irish media have the same access to Harvey's results as the rest of us via the ASX  website so would not be 'copying and pasting' figures when they can clearly see their country's results in detail for themselves.

Harvey Norman courted the local press to no end when it kicked off its Irish operation over 10 years ago, and ran a slew of TV and radio ads featuring a boisterous Aussie accent shouting about seemingly great bargains and choice. (This writer lived in Ireland at the time). 

But this extraordinary attack on the Irish media now suggests Callard is running scared.

Callard said: "we closed one store in a very bad location, Mullingar. ALL other stores combined in ROI then grew 8.7% in Euro terms (local currency) against their previous year's sales" which he insisted was "very significant."

Harvey's Ireland operation is feeling the pinch as it landed in the emerald isle at the height of the economic boom in 2000 when the Irish were mad buying luxury leather couches, beds and big screen TVs.

But now with Ireland in recession and debt up to their ears, times are tough and Harvey Norman's business has been hit hard and haemorrhaging profits.

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