By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman’s general manager – computers, Rutland Smith, has stepped down from the position to become the computer franchisee at the company’s Gold Coast store in Bundall. Smith will be replaced by Harvey Norman New Zealand general manager Luke Naish.

“I am thrilled that Luke Naish, formerly General Manager of Harvey Norman New Zealand, has accepted the position,” Smith told today.

“Luke will be responsible for the operations of our computer and communications business in the six different countries that we now operate in. Luke has done an outstanding job in New Zealand and is highly respected in our business and I am confident that he will be well received by the franchisees and the industry.”

The sea change decision was for family and lifestyle reasons for Smith who was a former Harvey Norman franchisee in both Melbourne and Adelaide and prior to that he held roles at IBM and Apple.

“For me personally after four years of working in the head office environment I have made a lifestyle decision to move to the Gold Coast. I have a young family who are my first priority. My second priority is Harvey Norman who I’ve now been with for 10 years. Gerry and Kate have changed my life through their unbelievable generosity and I’m thrilled that I can improve my family life whilst still making a contribution to Harvey Norman and being a part of the Harvey Norman family.”

Smith praised the Harvey Norman system.

“I think it’s a unique business model because without any investment you can effectively run your own business and the amount of trust and empowerment that Gerry and Kate put into their franchisees can’t be found anywhere else.

“One of the great advantages of working in the Flemington office for the past four years has been the ability to work alongside both Gerry and Kate on a day to day basis. They’re extremely inspiring and probably the smartest two people I’ve ever met. I owe them a great deal and I have learned a huge amount from working alongside them, plus they’ve got a sense of humour.”

Christmas is looking merry for Smith and his family as he is looking forward to some time off before taking over the reigns of the Bundall computer department.

“I will be moving into the Bundall, store in January,” Smith said. “I’ll be a beach bum for a couple of weeks in December.”