Katie Page Talks About Having A Better IQ Than Gerry Harvey
As Harvey Norman digests their loss of the Toshiba TV brand to archrival The Good Guys, CEO Katie Page has spent this week spruiking how she first got involved with the big retailer and the expansion of the business, and how she has a better IQ than Gerry Harvey.
In an interview with the Gold Coast Bulletin the CEO of Harvey Norman claimed that when her now husband Gerry Harvey, launched his first Harvey Norman multi-retail outlet in Sydney’s Auburn for $3 million in 1982, with business partner Ian Norman, Katie was his first call at the time she was only 25.
Now 60, she claims that she and Chairman Jerry Harvey have overseen the growth of an empire that now has more than 280 stores across eight countries with revenues in the billions.
Talking about their international expansion she said, “We were wanting to do something overseas and I said, ‘Gerry get on a plane, our Harvey Norman brand could really work well and this should be the first country outside of Australia’.
She was referring to their initial investment in New Zealand where the business is according to Page booming and where during COVID lockdowns the retailer was handed $12M in handouts that have not been paid back despite the business delivering record profits.
She has also spruiked Harvey Normans investment in rural Australia.
“Gerry came from the country as well; he had a similar upbringing in NSW country and so we’re both strongly country. We both support all of our Harvey Norman stores and communities strongly – 65 per cent of our stores are in country areas. It’s been important to us the money didn’t just go to big cities. We’re in every major town in Australia now – happily – and you can see by our business how strongly all of those communities really love the Harvey Norman brand because they know we’ve done that. It goes back to both of us being country people.
She said that Harvey Normans expansion into Queensland “Was because my family wanted to shop at Harvey Norman – that’s how our focus group worked”.
“It was very successful. We entered Victoria in the early ‘90s. Queensland was going so well; we thought our brand could be accepted nationally.
Expanding on their international expansion she said, “Look at New Zealand – we’re everywhere, also have a look at Slovenia and Croatia. We are in Zagreb, in Croatia – capital city. I said to Gerry ‘I want you to come over because we want to do some regional. I want to take you to two regional towns in Croatia. You’re going to agree that we should be doing regional in other places as well’. And he’s like ‘Go faster, go faster’. I took him to Pula, and he’s like ‘Oh my gosh Katie, what could we do here – go faster’.
“We’ve got great teams in every country. You can’t do this sitting in Sydney, you’ve got to have terrific people that have come through with us for many, many years.”
Questioned about her early days with Gerry Harvey and whether they always liked each other, she replies: “Actually no. It wasn’t until we worked together that we realised we were simpatico and that we were going to be this great team.
“And you ’know, we were sitting there, we went to the races and that was it.”
Long before they were a couple or worked together on the first fledgling Harvey Norman franchise, they had met when an ambitious young Ms Page did an IQ test for charity and Mr Harvey happened to be a judge.
“I beat Gerry. And he said, ‘Well that’s because it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and my brain is better in the morning’.”