Eastmead bails out from the Harvey Norman dot-com trail

Harvey Norman Online's franchisee operator, Richard Eastmead, will not be returning to his online post after what's rumoured to be a holiday.

Sources suggest Harvey Norman is in the midst of tweaking its online business model to cater for some franchisees unhappy competing against Harvey Norman Online, which was essentially just another franchise, under Eastmead.

The new structure will see HN take its operations in-house so all franchisees can benefit.

Industry rumours have suggested Eastmead did not make the money he was looking for on the dot-com trail.

Harvey Norman chief Gerry Harvey confirmed Eastmead was leaving and currently considering his future at another HN store.

"Richard will go on to better things," Harvey said. "We'll keep it [Harvey Norman Online] going because you've got to."However, in a candid interview with ARN, Harvey said he was not worried about Eastmead's replacement, implying he had a few other staff ready to run the online show.

"To run that thing you don't need to be a genius," he said. "It's just a friggin' catalogue on the Net."However, it seems his flippant message has serious intent designed to appease nervous HN franchisees. "It's not much competition [for franchisees]; it doesn't do a lot of business."In fact, he went so far as saying online traffic was "so small, it's scary".

Harvey then turned his attention to dstore and criticised it for what he believes are very low sales rates.

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