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Paying it back: Harvey Norman refunds JobKeeper payments after reporting strong profits

September 1, 2021

Paying it back: Harvey Norman refunds JobKeeper payments after reporting strong profits

Furniture and electronics retailer Harvey Norman has repaid more than $6 million in JobKeeper subsidies amid a mounting public backlash against businesses profiting after receiving the payments.

Furniture and electronics retailer Harvey Norman has repaid more than $6 million in JobKeeper subsidies amid a mounting public backlash against businesses profiting after receiving the payments.

Founder Gerry Harvey revealed the money had been repaid in the company’s full-year report, released on Tuesday.

The refunded money represents roughly a quarter of what was paid to the company under the JobKeeper scheme, with the remaining $14.5 million being received by Harvey Norman’s privately-owned franchisees.

When pressed on the decision to pay the money back, however, Mr Harvey was unwilling to comment.

“Every time I open my mouth about JobKeeper I get into trouble,” Mr Harvey told Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’m not going to talk about JobKeeper.”

In recent weeks, Harvey Norman has come under increasing pressure from the public to repay the money, which was intended to subsidise wages for businesses “significantly affected” by the pandemic.

Mr Harvey initially refused to pay back the money Harvey Norman received through the program despite reporting a jump in earnings, with online critics blocked from commenting on Harvey Norman’s twitter page.

The saga quickly resulted in calls for a boycott, while satirists were quick to take swipes at the franchise.

Go Harvey Go

JobKeeper criticisms aside, Harvey Norman still delivered a full-year EBITDA of $1.45 billion in FY21, up $512.46 million on FY20’s results and a record for the company.

Profit before tax was up 78.8%, to $1.183 billion. 

“The solid results delivered in the 2021 financial year is a testament to the strength and resilience of the integrated retail, franchise, property and digital strategy, and its ability to adapt and transition to the challenging retail landscape and continue to navigate the uncertainties presented by COVID-19,” Mr Harvey said.

“The results achieved this year demonstrates that customers continue to engage strongly with our brands and feel comfortable and safe shopping in our expansive, spacious overseas company-owned and Australian franchised complexes.”

The company declared a fully-franked final dividend of 15 cents per share.

Sources:

 


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