Harvey Norman finally sees the Internet light

After years of living in denial, Harvey Norman chief Gerry Harvey came out in public last week to declare he does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs and will embrace the Internet.

The retail juggernaut is halfway through developing its Internet strategy that includes both the site development, and a serious evaluation of how product fulfilment will be managed by its ambitious base of franchisee operators.

John Slack-Smith, HN's general manager of computers and communications, said the company's site is scheduled to go live on December 1.

"We see the Internet as an increasingly important part of what we do," he explained.

Slack-Smith said the retail chain plans to open as many as 12 new stores around the country this financial year and invest heavily in its people. "The Internet will complement what we are," he said.

But with over 20,000 product lines on offer, he concedes the task of moving to the online world remains a complex one.

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