After promising a move for the past couple of years, Australian department chain Harvey Norman will open three retail stores in Auckland — each with a computer super-store division.
The three stores in Manukau City, Wairau Park and Mt Wellington are planned to open in May/June and will employ up to 130 people in the computer sections alone.
Tony Gattari, Harvey Norman’s group computer controller, says each store will carry $3 million worth of computer stock or around 10,000 items covering PCs, notebooks, printers, scanners, network equipment and software.
In Australia Harvey Norman stocks PCs from IBM, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Acer, Packard Bell and Mitac. It carries notebooks from Toshiba, Texas Instruments, IBM, NEC and Compaq. Gattari says many New Zealand suppliers have been in contact with him and next month he will be in the country to set up supplier arrangements.
“Don’t assume that because a company is a supplier in Australia that it will be so in New Zealand and vice versa,” he says. “We may have New Zealand suppliers that we don’t use in Australia. The main thing is that they show commitment to the New Zealand market and understand how Harvey Norman works.”
Gattari says the New Zealand stores will probably feature specialty areas found in Australian stores such as Kidscape - a store within a store selling children’s
software, Game Zone and a networking section.
“We will probably seek some sort of commitment from Microsoft about a special Microsoft area also.”
Gattari says the new stores will feature a computer service areas staffed by technicians who will also repair equipment not bought from Harvey Norman.
Last year Harvey Norman’s turnover was $A330 million, with 30% of that coming from the computer division. This year the retail giant is forecast to do $A420 million. If the Auckland stores prove successful, more will be rolled out across the country.
Gattari says Harvey Norman New Zealand will run autonomously with its own infrastructure and financial reporting. The stores will be franchised as in Australia.
Despite PC sales falling 5% last year and poor performance by the retail sector here, Gattari says Harvey Norman expects the New Zealand computer division to be successful.
“We don’t think it’s going to be easy but we think we’ll do well in computers and furniture - but probably not in electrical goods which is already well covered in New Zealand.
“In Australia we’ve been in the business of computers for eight years while most other retailers have only been doing it for two or three years. We also have very flexible financing options, for example we’ve just finished a two-year interest-free offer, and we do business leasing.
“We’re not out to cannibalise the market, in fact we believe we will expand it. Because we’re a mass market retailer our advertising is very broad based - TV, radio, press and catalogues.”