“I thought at one stage, if we broke even in the last six months, we would be lucky.”

Harvey Norman chair Gerry Harvey was responding to the Harvey Norman drop in profit for the half year ended December 31, 2021. Profit before tax of $612.24 million was down 4.9% or $31.67 million.

“A lot of stores were closed particularly in Sydney and Melbourne so given the unprecedented Covid issues I was enormously happy under the circumstances with the results,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“Covid might have changed the world, but Putin has taken Covid off the front pages.”

He said while most categories performed strongly, carpets, beds, lounge furniture and home improvements like baths, basins and tiles were weaker.

“Online business for electricals and computers all held up well, but you can’t sell carpets, beds and furniture online as most sales for these items are made in the store.  

“January and February business has been good, and we are open everywhere in the world now, except for our Oxley store in Brisbane which is 10 feet under. Other stores are affected by the floods too, but Oxley is a disaster.”

Harvey said while people are not spending on travel and clothes for work, they are putting money into their houses, but he was not sure how long this would continue. “With $240 billion in savings there is a huge amount of money out there.

“The other thing I suppose we have to take into account is the price rises of 5% to 20% on everything. But even if we sell the same number of fridges or lounges sales will go up 5% to 15% anyway. Whether you sell a fridge at $699 or $1,999, it will make no difference. There is no evidence in my lifetime that sales of appliances have ever dropped because of price increases. Appliances such as fridges are still cheaper than they were 30 years ago and are at an all-time low price now,” he said.

As the Harvey Normans share price lifted on the results, Harvey spent $3.5 million on shares, increasing his stake in the company. “It’s a 6% to 7% yield on your money on a Harvey Norman share. Where do you put money that is better than that?”