By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Gerry Harvey believes the strong relationships between the Harvey Norman organisation and suppliers will be crucial to the retail group surviving the economic downturn and thriving when the inevitable upturn occurs.

In his chairman’s report to the Australian Securities Exchange today, Harvey pointed to the strength of the associations Harvey Norman has with business partners, writing that these partnerships will continue to generate turnover through this period of uncertainty.

“We lead the market in new and exciting product categories because of our excellent commercial relationships with suppliers,” wrote Harvey. “Our strong financial base positions us as the retailer of choice with our trading partners.”

With these partnerships in place, Harvey believes the Harvey Norman stores can continue to lead the market with technology and appliance products.

“Our commitment to being first to market with exciting technology and homemaker products remains as strong as ever.”

Also in his chairman’s report, Harvey reiterated that the retail group’s expansion policies will not be drastically changed by the economy.

“Our previously stated intent of opening a minimum of 15 new complexes for our brands remains, and there will be a net increase for the 2009 financial year, once the complex closures have been completed.”

These closures include the OFIS branded stores, which are all set to close due to lack of profitability.