Furniture and electronics giant Harvey Norman revamps and expands outlets here

Managing director of Harvey Norman Kenneth Aruldoss is in charge of the stores' revamp.
Managing director of Harvey Norman Kenneth Aruldoss is in charge of the stores' revamp.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Australian furniture and electronics giant plans to revamp all its outlets here to stay competitive

When Australian furniture and electronics giant Harvey Norman - a household name here - opened its flagship store at Millenia Walk in 2015, it signalled a move towards a new look and feel for the company's retail spaces.

The retail chain had opened its first store in Singapore - a 45,000 sq ft space - at Millenia Walk in 2001.

The current store is more than twice that size - at 100,000 sq ft over three storeys - offering Harvey Norman's widest range of electronics, kitchenware, homeware and bedding under one roof.

The megastore is the biggest homemaker department store in the Central Business District.

So successful is the revamp that Harvey Norman, which has 13 outlets here, extended the same concept to its store at Parkway Parade in the east. Following a four-month renovation and expansion, the 34,000 sq ft store opened last month. The old store was 11,000 sq ft.

Featuring spacious interiors and modern finishings over two floors, the Parkway Parade store is also the first outside the flagship to showcase Harvey Norman's full range of offerings, including furniture and bedding items.

For Mr Kenneth Aruldoss, managing director of Harvey Norman and the man spearheading the revamp, the facelift - which will be extended to the rest of its stores in Singapore - is necessary to cater to today's customers.

"Our revamp at Millenia Walk came as a result of a comprehensive survey we did here 21/2 years ago, which highlighted that our customers are looking for a wide range of goods, knowledgeable staff, strong customer service and an interactive shopping environment," says the 56-year-old.

"What we've noticed is that more women are shopping these days and they appreciate bright and clean interiors. Plus, given the options customers have these days, they expect retail environments that are inviting and offer a hassle-free shopping experience."

The company has been looking for opportunities to expand the size of its key outlets, which includes taking over retail space on a different floor.

Following the Millenia Walk model, the interior at the Parkway Parade store has been fitted with finishings such as exposed brick walls and shelving with chic matt black railings.

And like the Millenia Walk store, there are dedicated areas such as a games hub, which carries a comprehensive range of gaming hardware, titles and consoles, as well as a photo shop. The larger retail space also means that bigger appliances can be displayed.

With the addition of furniture and bedding sections to the superstore, the lighting was adjusted. Warmer lights are used in the furniture and bedding section, while brighter white lights are in the consumer electronics section.

For Mr Aruldoss, who has been working with Harvey Norman since 1998 and joined its Singapore team in 2015, refurbishing all the stores with the same interior fittings, ambience and flow of merchandise was important for consistency.

"From quality of service and ambience to colour coordination and details of fixtures used, these will be replicated at every store so that customers get a seamless experience."

He adds that the push for a smooth shopping experience has also extended to the online store, which offers most of the products in stores.

The company is working to improve the end-to-end processes for customers, whether online or at its brick-and-mortar stores.

"Even though e-commerce is still less than 30 per cent of our overall business, we cannot ignore the need for omni-channel sales in today's retail environment," he says.

"We're gearing up our online platform to support our stores and gearing up our stores to support our online platform."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'New look and feel for Harvey Norman'. Print Edition | Subscribe