Harvey Norman hikes dividend as profit, sales double

Electronics and furniture retailer Harvey Norman has doubled its sales and profit for the first half of the financial year also wiping off half a billion dollars in debt as the company continues to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ASX-listed retailer told investors on Friday morning its profit after tax and one-off items rose 115.8 per cent to $438 million for the six months to the end of December, a record result.

Harvey Norman saw sales and profits boom during the pandemic.Credit:Scott Barbour

Consolidated revenue rose 27 per cent to $2.34 billion and the business reduced its net debt by $574 million, reporting a net cash position of $21.75 million. Harvey Norman has been a huge beneficiary from more spending on electronics and home appliances during the pandemic.

The business reported an interim dividend of 20 cents per share to be paid on May 3, marking an $80 million payday for company founder and executive chairman Gerry Harvey. The interim dividend in the previous corresponding period was 12 cents per share.

“The solid results delivered this half is a testament to the strength and resilience of the integrated retail, franchise, property and digital strategy and its ability to adapt and transform to the changing retail landscape and continue to navigate the uncertainties presented by COVID-19,” Mr Harvey said.

The retailer has faced significant pressure to repay the $10 million claimed in JobKeeper subsidies across the 2020 financial year. On Friday, the business revealed it had pocketed another $3.63 million in local wage subsidies during the first half of 2021, along with $2.25 million in support to the business’ various overseas divisions.

“Some of the other non-franchised businesses applied for, and were eligible to receive, $3.63 million of wages support and assistance during 1H21, all of which was passed on directly to their in order to retain the employees of those businesses,” the company said.

Sales have continued to grow in the new year, up 21 per cent across the business for the first seven weeks, driven primarily by sales in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

The company’s international divisions in Slovenia, Northern Ireland and Singapore all reported weaker sales in the new year as some regions struggled with continued COVID outbreaks.

More to come

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