“Buy more property, open more shops and employ more people”. This was the response from Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey when Appliance Retailer asked what he would do with his eye-watering half-yearly profit, for the six months to December.

Profit after tax was $462 million, up 116.3% from the previous half-year result, franchisee sales increased 27% and consolidated revenue rose 27% to $2.34 billion.  

Harvey admitted to being caught off guard by the strength of the market. “Delighted and surprised but never in my lifetime have I seen anything like this,” he said.

“In the categories we are in we have done better than most. We have made more money and done more advertising. Anything to do with the home or garden is selling.” 

According to Harvey, consumers are still splurging on their homes. “If they have just bought a new fridge, renovated their outdoor space or maybe looking at sprucing up the bathroom or something else. Once you are on the rollercoaster you just keep going but to what extent I am not sure. The motor car industry has also gone through the roof, so while they are not travelling overseas consumers are spending on homes and cars.”

He said deliveries remain an issue and ordering months ahead was necessary otherwise “we won’t get the stock.”

Business was still strong in January and February 2021, but he believes the test will be from now until June which is when sales soared last year. “It will be interesting to see what retailer turnover will be in the next few months. Because it escalated so strongly in those months in 2020 you would expect that if anyone got last year’s figures they would be doing extraordinarily well, even less than 10 or 20% you would still be doing well.”

Harvey was looking at opening more stores in most countries including Ireland and New Zealand and will continue to carry out big store refurbishments in Australia. “Singapore and Malaysia have been damaged by Covid so hopefully they will improve in the next couple of years,” he said.