By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Despite press reports that the Harvey Norman group is looking for potential sites for its Ofis branded office retail concept, Harvey Norman’s chief operating officer John Slack-Smith told today that they are always looking for new sites.

“There is nothing newsworthy in that,” Slack-Smith said in response to the press reports that Harvey Norman is already looking for sites for the new Ofis business to tackle Coles’ Officeworks.

“We have a property business and we’re looking at potential sites for our retail businesses seven days a week. We have said publicly that depending on what happened with the ownership structure of Officeworks, we would consider the office market as a separate business in the future.

“At this point in time, if we as a company decide to actively pursue the office market, we will make a statement at that time.”

Gerry Harvey publicly stated his interest in purchasing the Officeworks business from Coles, but the business was sold to Wesfarmers as part of their successful $20.7 billion Coles takeover bid.

In an exclusive interview with Gerry Harvey published on on April 26 this year, Harvey indicated he might start his own office supplies retail concept if he missed out on purchasing Officeworks.

“Officeworks has a monopolistic station here, and if I couldn’t buy it I may think about launching my own.”

Since then Harvey told reporter Ali Moore on ABC TV’s Lateline program on July 18  that his company had registered the name ‘Ofis’ as the name for an office supplies retail business and said, “We would hope to have the first ones opening within the next six to 12 months.”