By James Wells

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman has announced that sales of flat panel televisions, supported by laptop computers and portable music devices, helped grow sales by 16.7 per cent in the last six months of 2006.

A statement released this afternoon by Harvey Norman chief financial officer, Chris Mentis, said sales for the period from 1 July 2006 to 31 December 2006 increased year on year by 16.7 per cent. Like for like sales for the six months ended 31 December compared to a year earlier increased by 7.1 per cent.

“The directors of Harvey Norman Holdings Limited are pleased to announce that sales from the franchised ‘Harvey Norman’ stores, commercial divisions and other sales outlets in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Ireland (excluding Singapore and Rebel Sport Ltd) totaled $2.71 billion for the six months ended 31 December 2006,” Mentis said in his statement.

Harvey Norman chief operation officer, John Slack-Smith, told that the real standout has been the sales of flat panel televisions, which attract consumers as more products head towards and fall below the significant $999 price barrier.

“The real standout has been the plasma and LCD category. It continues to be the strongest growth category for our entire group and I don’t see this changing any time soon with household penetration rates in the ‘teens’.

“Within the computer division, we have seen continuous strength in the laptop computer business. We continue to hold good market share in that category.

“The portable media player category was also strong. An easy one to point to would be the Apple iPod as the real standout.”