By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman general manager – electrical, David Ackery, told today the group aims to add eight to 10 stores per year for the next few years after announcing a 16.5% sales increase for the 2007 financial year ending 30 June.

Harvey Norman, Australia’s third largest retail group behind Woolworths and Coles, posted the 16.5% sales increase over the same period in 2006 and it took the sales total for the period to $5.34 billion. Like for like sales were up by 8.6% over the same period.

The sales reported were for the entire group, including the stores, commercial divisions and other sales outlets in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Ireland (but excluding Singapore and Rebel Sport Limited).

The $1.36 billion total sales for the quarter ended June 2007 (Q407) compared to Q406 represented a 15.4% increase. The like for like sales over the same period increased by 9.5%.

“The sales increase came largely from flat panel TVs, technology products, notebook computers, in-car navigation and whitegoods,” Ackery told today.

“The key drivers of this are that we have got the styling right, we have got the right relationships in place with our suppliers and we have the right offering for the consumers. And underlying all of this is our franchise system.”

It was also a year of continued expansion with the group opening 23 stores in Australia, four in New Zealand, two in Ireland and one in Slovenia. Meanwhile the group closed four stores in Australia and one store was re-branded.

“Of the 23 new stores opened up in Australia, 10 stores were Joyce Mayne, 12 were Harvey Norman, one was Domayne,” Ackery revealed.

“The reason for the closure of four stores in the group was due to an inability to strike a new deal with the landlords.

“The group also re-branded a Joyce Mayne outlet at McGraths Hill, NSW, to Harvey Norman.”

According to Ackery, the growth is just beginning.

“We will continue to roll out eight to 10 stores every year in Australia and overseas for the next couple of years,” he said.

“The day we stop growing is the day we hang our boots up.”