Gerry Harvey, executive chairman of Harvey Norman, has announced plans to enter the online retail space, reports the Herald Sun. According to the retail giant, the online store will launch within the next few weeks.
Despite voicing concerns that the online venture would “cannibalise” profits from his brick-and-mortar stores, Harvey maintained that he had no choice in the matter.
“They're kicking us on the internet at the moment… I'm trying to get on at the right time," Harvey told the Herald Sun.
Currently, the Harvey Norman website merely lists retail goods available in stores, with no option to purchase items online. “By this time next year you'll see Harvey Norman with a pretty sizeable internet presence," Mr Harvey said.
The announcement will come as a surprise to many who have been following Harvey Norman in the news. Just last year, Harvey Norman's chief operating officer, John Slack-Smith, claimed that the company would look towards e-commerce in "five to ten years".
Speaking at the CeBIT expo in Sydney, Slack-Smith stated: "Today we have nothing from online activities. Over the next three years, we won't see a great deal of change in that regard either."
For years, Gerry Harvey has been a vocal opponent of online retail, particularly in the overseas space. In January, Harvey was involved in a campaign that sought to apply the GST to overseas online purchases.
Interestingly, the new store will allegedly ship goods from China, following the same online model recently announced by Myer.