By Ian Neubauer

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey today denied rumours his company was in the process of acquiring rival Noel Leeming, New Zealand’s largest appliance retail chain, despite media reports to the contrary.

“We are not going to buy it. I rang up Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond to see if they were for sale. I heard on the grapevine they were for sale but now it seems that they’re not so I’m not sure what’s going on,” Harvey told today.

The Bond & Bond brand is incorporated in the Noel Leeming group, with a combined total of 87 retail outlets throughout New Zealand.

Harvey confirmed the company will be opening a new chain in New Zealand called Norman Ross that will compete directly with Harvey Norman stores. He also confirmed that construction of a “very large development site” near Hobart Airport was well under way and scheduled to commence trading in early 2008.

“It’s a bulky good type retailer, the biggest of its kind in Tasmania with lots of retail and office space,” Harvey said. “It’s only stage one that will be opening next year. There will be six different opening stages planned over the next 10 years.

“We have been doing business in Tasmania for eight or nine years now and our business down there is very good,” he said. “All of our Tasmanian shops are doing very well for us.”