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Officeworks & JB Hi Fi Teach Harvey Norman A Lesson In Retailing

By David Richards | Thursday | 18/08/2011

As Harvey Norman struggles to grow their IT business retailers like JB Hi Fi and Officeworks along with discount chains like Big W are stripping business away from the ageing retailer who is now suffering from their franchise structure.

Earlier today Wesfarmers, the owners of the Coles, Kmart, Target, Officeworks and Bunning's brands, announced a 22.8% lift in profits.

Sales at the Officeworks climbed 5.2% compared to a 2.6% decline in sales for Harvey Norman. Earlier in the month JB HiFi reported an 8.2% lift in sales.

The Wesfarmers operating revenue was $54.9 billion, up 5.9 per cent on 2010. They also delivered a net profit after tax of $1,922 million, up a staggering 22.8 per cent.

Roughly halfway through the five years that management set to turn around Coles the brand is performing better at this point than anyone could have anticipated.

Business Spectator said that Kmart is showing some promising signs, Officeworks is a far better and bigger business and only Target, which has borne the brunt of the bloodbath discount department stores have been experiencing, is misfiring.

During the past year Officeworks opened 10 new stores and carried out 6 full store upgrades, with 40 per cent of stores reported as trading under the company's new format.

A major notebook manufacturer said "We are getting better results out of Officeworks than we are out of Harvey Norman. There (Harvey Norman) retail model is broken. Dealing with Wesfarmers is very different than dealing with the Harvey Norman buying committees. The demands being made by Harvey Norman such as the Gerry Tax which is the rebate commissions that Harvey Norman demand is becoming difficult to handle especially as sales are slipping at Harvey Norman while climbing at other retailers like JB Hi Fi and Officeworks".

In coming weeks Officeworks is tipped to deliver an expanded web site operation which could be another blow to Harvey Norman said an Officeworks executive.

 The report added that the company was making good progress with "website enhancements, range expansion [and] service investment".

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