By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey has this morning reported a profit from underlying business operations of $99.3 million for the last six months of 2008. This is down 56.8 per cent on the same period of 2007, which was over $130 million stronger at $230 million.

It is not all bad news however, with the chairman pointing to a number of key factors that help the retailer survive the economic crisis and remain a strong player in the Australian market.

“Trading conditions remain challenging but our core segments are resilient and our brands are growing market share in all key product categories,” wrote Harvey.

“Our financial performance from underlying business operations in this period of global economic downturn must be viewed in light of the retail boom conditions experienced during HY 2007.”

Once again, Harvey pointed to the Emerald Isle as a source of frustration, pointing out that operations in the Republic are continuing to cost the retailer money.

“Trading conditions in Ireland remain extremely difficult. We have taken an impairment charge of $17 million against the written down value of our plant and equipment in Ireland,” he said.

Harvey also reported that the group currently owns property valued at $1.77 billion.