Gerry Harvey’s online doomsday prophesies have come through, he has declared. Harvey, who is now the Nostradamus of the business world, it appears, has also revealed Harvey Norman is unaffected by online rivals.
“When I first brought that up, that online thing back at Christmas time, what I said at the time is now happening,” says Mr Harvey.
But not for his TV business, however, Harvey’s has dodged the calamity that is the online threat, saying it accounted for just 0.1% of his business, he told AAP.
“People are not importing fridges and TVs and lounges,” he declared.
This is despite posting a 16.5% profit fall in February this year even after three additional stores were added to his franchise chain.
“You’ve got shop after shop in trouble.” But not Harvey Norman-type shops, though, insists the electronic giant’s boisterous Chairman.
Harvey Norman last month posted a better profit figure of 9% but said it faces many obstacles in the coming year, although is confident the new e-commerce site due in October will be a financial success.
Up until this year, Harvey’s refused to enter the world of online retail but were forced to perform a U turn after it became clear its brick and mortar retail business had hit a wall.
Gerry Harvey, who once famously said there was no money to be made from online now appears to be changing his tune: “We are confident our online transactional strategy will produce incremental dollars to the existing channel,” he told the ASX last month.
But despite this online epiphany, Gerry is still banging on about overseas website not paying their dues.
“Clothes shops, shoe shops, all those shops that are being affected by online purchases that are not paying all their duties and taxes,” he said.
But he also insists the threat to his business from online competitors is tiny. “It’s less than 0.1 of one per cent of what we sell, so why did the media take up about me saying that I’m protecting Harvey Norman,” he said.
“It’s like bullsh** coming out all the time. Why did they deliberately bloody distort it?”
Ah, maybe because you were the ringleader of the ‘10% GST’ brigade, Gerry, who earlier this year demanded Julia Gillard’s government slap all consumers with an additional tax on all goods purchased online under $1000 from overseas – to protect your electronics empire and high street pals alike, who for years charged Australians extortionate prices for goods.
Harvey, backed by Just Group, Myer and David Jones backed a ‘fair go’ media campaign, launching a series of full page ads on Boxing Day calling for a 10% GST tax, saying overseas competitors held an unfair advantage, since they were not subject to the same tax regime as domestic retailers.
Mr Harvey later admitted was “poor timing” and a “suicidal” move after major consumer backlash.
You can rant Gerry, but no longer can you hide behind high prices.