Harvey Norman is Australias largest chain of independently owned and operated franchisee retail department stores. They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary of trading in Australia. Harvey Norman Franchisees sell : Electrical goods, Furniture, Carpet and Flooring, Bedding & Manchester, Small Appliances, Computer and Communications, Lighting, Home Improvements, and Bathroom Hardware.1

While the entity known as Harvey Norman is 20 years old, the history stretches back much longer than that. Before 1982, the largest chain of franchise retail was Norman Ross, a conglomerate established by Ian Norman and Peter Ross. They employed a very smart businessman, Gerry Harvey, as CEO. However, the Ross family suffered tragedy and intrigue, and sold their controlling share to Ian Norman. Gerry Harvey then seized his opportunity and bought out his former boss, and once in control, immediately re-styled the company to Harvey Norman.

As a store, Harvey Norman offers a wide range of home products, as well as computers and electronics. However, they are usually the "top line" pricing - namely, the highest reasonable prices for any given product. The old saying used to be that if you shopped at Harvey Norman, the difference in price was a "stupidity tax" - if you were stupid/rich enough to shop at Harvey Norman, you deserved to pay the inflated prices.

Harvey Norman was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on the 3rd of September, 1987, under the code HVN. While often trading as high as AUD$3.81, they are currently in a slump at $2.75.2

Harvey Norman operates (as of 22-Sep-2002) 134 stores in all Australian States and Territories, as well as New Zealand, Singapore, East Timor and most surprisingly, Slovenia. Harvey Norman's first foray in to overseas territory was the teaming up with Singaporian investment firm Ossia, to create Harvey Norman Ossia (HNO). HNO facilitated the purchase of "a controlling interest" in Perama Holdings. With Perama Holdings as the lynch-pin, Harvey Norman leased an 80,000ft2 store in one of Singapore's busiest retail districts, the Millenia Walk, located at 9 Raffles Boulevarde, Singapore, 039596. Once this first "signature store" was under control, HNO then followed up with the purchase of 8, and later another 6, Electric City stores in Singapore. While the 80,000ft2 store was being outfitted, the 14 (total) Electric City stores opened on 17 January, 2001. The main Millenia Walk store opened on 1 May, 2001.

In more recent news, Harvey Norman is looking to diversify their interests as a public company with the notice to purchase Rebel Sport, Australia's largest franchise sports goods stores.

1 - www.harveynorman.com.au/html/aboutus.htm
2 - www.asx.com.au/asx/research/CompanyInfo.jsp

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