By Craig Zammit & James Wells

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman Berrima has been voted the Northern Territory’s Store of the Year by over 100 electrical suppliers, becoming the fourth Harvey Norman nominated for Australian Store of the Year at the 2007 Electrical Retailing Awards (ERAs).

The Berrima store will join fellow Harvey Norman locations at Warrawong, Chadstone and Bundall as well as Clive Peeters Moonah and Kambo’s Retravision at Malaga, as finalists for the Best Electrical Store in Australia award, to be announced tomorrow night at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.

The franchisee of the 1,500 square metre store in Berrimah, Darwin, Geoff Cussen, joined the business in September 2006 from Kalgoorlie.

His store is now the largest electrical store in Darwin, with 25 staff members, and is based 10 to 15 minutes drive from the city centre.

“We are lucky in that we are big enough to have a sizeable panel and audio display as well as great kitchen and whitegoods displays to give consumers the best choice in Darwin,” said Cussen.

Cussen says the flat panel television market has been one of the best performing areas of the business, but admits that since margins in this category are under pressure, he is looking to make profit elsewhere in AV.

“We are finding the audio market is swinging back to component audio – which has been performing very well. Audio has always been something in the back of people’s minds. A lot of people get the panel sale and then say ‘see you later’. Panels are such a commodity now that audio is where you have to sell it to the consumer and that means hooking it up.”

While Cussen says he has a dedicated audio room for demonstrating projectors and high end audio products, a large number of sales are made by customising products to the needs of the consumer.

“We make our own audio packs up to a pricepoint by presenting a good, better, best scenario,” said Cussen.

Cussen says all 25 staff members have equally contributed to the success of the store.

“I know we certainly have the best staff in the Northern Territory. Everybody shares in what we do and everybody does their own bit to make us what we are. I’m only as good as what they are and the store is only as good as we all are.”

The ERA State Store of the Year awards are determined  by over 100 industry suppliers and judged on customer appeal, staff knowledge, local marketing initiative, buying and operational efficiencies and sales success.

The Australian Store of the Year ERA is one of the four major awards to be announced on the night, with the other major Awards including Product of the Year, Supplier of the Year and Retail Organisation of the Year.

The ERA Awards combine the efforts of the electrical retailing industry’s leading trade publication – Appliance Retailer, as well as the industry’s leading data provider – GfK Australia, in conjunction with a national judging panel representing a cross section of the industry’s leading retailers and the major suppliers and manufacturers.