Harvey Norman plans local clone

Australia-based computer retailer Harvey Norman expects to introduce a locally assembled clone for its New Zealand superstores, the first of which will open in Auckland in July.

Australian computer retailer Harvey Norman expects to sell a locally assembled clone in its New Zealand superstores, the first of which will open in Auckland in July.

The company’s self-styled “Mr Computer”, group computer controller Tony Gattari, was in Auckland last week for a whistlestop tour of the sites where New Zealand’s first Harvey Norman superstores are being built.

The 57-strong consumer-focused computer store chain is scheduled to open in Auckland in July. Harvey Norman will also be setting up its own local mail order and telemarketing service, aimed at the corporate and small to medium-sized business markets.

Harvey Norman’s cut-price PCs are expected to be on the market later in the year. “It will be an OEM machine and will be purchasable only at our stores,” says Gattari. “We’ll be looking at using a New Zealand supplier and we’ll be trying to ensure that all the people we do business with are local suppliers.”

Harvey Norman’s move to introduce its own clone aims to prevent the company from being too reliant on overseas-based vendors which are slow to supply stock and want to cut margins, he says.

The Harvey Norman computer could be aimed at below $1000 but only if no other company is already doing that.

“Our philosophy is to support the brands we sell. What we aim to do is fill the gaps with a low price point if we can do it. Our own brand will be feature-rich and offer value for money but we won’t be cannibalising our sales of other brands.”

The Harvey Norman chain is run along franchise lines, with a difference. “It’s not a true franchise--we set it up as a profit-share company. The proprietors keep a percentage of the profits. Who owns it runs it. This puts accountability, responsibility and authority at the store level instead of head office.”

PC Direct’s sales and marketing manager Rowan Schaaf says PC Direct will be keeping an eye on Harvey Norman but doesn’t really see the store as competition.

“We don’t see them competing directly with PC Direct, because they are in a slightly different part of the market. They are really competing more with the likes of Noel Leeming and Dick Smith Electronics.”

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