Harvey Norman expects ‘particularly strong’ growth in Ireland

Chief executive of Australian retailer says Irish operation is group’s star performer

Harvey Norman has sales in Ireland of more than €150 million annually.  Photographer: Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg

Harvey Norman has sales in Ireland of more than €150 million annually. Photographer: Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg

 

The group chief executive of Australian furniture-to-electronics retailer Harvey Norman has indicated its Irish operation has become the star performer of its global operations, as the retail recovery here gathers strength.

Katie Page told local reporters in recent days that she expected sales this year to “grow strongly” in Ireland.

“Our business there is in line with what is happening with the economy,” she said. “Next year is predicted to be particularly strong.”

The rest of its European operation, which comprises outlets in Slovenia and Croatia, was “doing okay . . . not fantastic but okay”, Ms Page said.

European arm

Recently released sales figures by the listed retailer, for the three months to the end of September, illustrate the booming performance of Ireland versus the rest of the Harvey Norman group.

Irish sales reported in Australian dollars here were up almost 22 per cent over the same period a year earlier, or 13.5 per cent in euro. This compared with a 5.7 per cent rise in its home market, 3.2 per cent in New Zealand and 10 per cent in Slovenia and Croatia.

Next month Harvey Norman is expected to report further strong growth in its Irish operation, which comprises 12 stores as well as two furniture outlets in Northern Ireland.

Quarterly profit

It returned to quarterly net profit here about a year ago.

It recently launched a new furniture outlet in Belfast, which incorporates a 140-seat restaurant. The North’s economy is recovering while the company also benefits from the strength of sterling.

The 61,000sq ft (5,667sq m) new store in Balmoral Plaza replaces an older outlet in Newtownabbey. It is the largest Harvey Norman in Ireland.

The current stature of its Irish operation within the group contrasts sharply with how it was viewed as the economy here collapsed in 2008.

Founder and chairman Gerry Harvey described its then performance as “catastrophic” and controversially likened it to the “return of the potato Famine”.