Harvey Norman is a large Australian-based, multi-national retailer of furniture, bedding, computers, communications and consumer electrical products. It mainly operates as a franchise, with the main brand and all company-operated stores owned by ASX-listed Harvey Norman Holdings Limited. As of 2016, there are 280 company-owned and franchised stores in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South-East Asia operating under the Harvey Norman, Domayne and Joyce Mayne brands in Australia, and under the Harvey Norman brand overseas.
Gerry Harvey and Ian Norman opened their first store in 1961, which specialised in electrical goods and appliances. Harvey and Norman had first met when both were working as door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen. The store's success prompted Harvey and Norman to expand the business and conduct talks with retailer Keith Lord, who sought to expand his own retail group. They could not settle on a name for the new business, with Harvey and Lord reluctant to take on the other's name. They eventually decided to retain Norman's name and that of its first store manager, Peter Ross. This spawned the retail chain Norman Ross.
Norman Ross became one of the largest appliance retail chains and by 1979 controlled 42 stores with sales exceeding A$240 million. In the early 1980s, Alan Bond and Grace Bros. sought to acquire the chain, spawning a bidding war that saw Grace Bros incorporate the chain in 1982. Three weeks later however, a determined Alan Bond successfully convinced the Grace Bros. director Michael Grace to sell the chain to Bond. Shortly after, Harvey and Norman were given notice and redundancy package of six months pay. Reasons for their sacking were not publicised, although Harvey later told The Daily Telegraph: "I said I wished Alan Bond would pack up his marbles and go back to Perth. Then I got a telegram telling me I was sacked".
Norman Ross went into liquidation in 1992. In October 1982, Harvey and Norman purchased a new shopping centre in the outer Sydney suburb of Auburn for A$3 million, and opened the first Harvey Norman store. The enterprise was intended to be a single store but its success led to the opening of others. Harvey Norman Holdings Limited was listed on the Australian stock market on 3 September 1987.
In the early 1990s, Harvey Norman adopted the superstore format then successful in the United States, and entered the computer and furniture markets. The first computer superstore was opened at Bennetts Green, Newcastle in late 1993 with much fanfare. That was followed several weeks later by the opening of a larger superstore at Auburn (Sydney, NSW). Many stores later expanded their computer sections.
Strong support was provided to the chain by distributors such as Merisel, Dataflow, Tech Pacific, and Marketing Results. Extra support and funding was supplied by vendors (supplied by these distributors) such as Microsoft, Corel, Symantec and WordPerfect. Staff also received weekly training from companies in order to have better product knowledge than similar larger retailers.
Harvey Norman also sold Apple Computer products for several years. The launch of Windows 95 was a huge success, with a few Sydney stores opening at midnight, and some regional areas opening at 6 a.m. The products came with a bonus pack featuring Harvard Graphics on CD and an introductory internet offer from OzEmail. Apple decided to stop supplying the chain in the late 1990s, but returned in 2004 with the iPod range, which later expanded into iPads, iPhones and iMacs.
A Norman Ross store was opened at Bennetts Green in 1995, with the purpose of being a clearance centre. That had mixed results, and was closed within 12 months. However, the Bennetts Green store expanded into larger premises in 1996, where it operates today. Part of the relocation was a dedicated educational centre, named Kidscape. Specialist employees from Dataflow provided advice to parents on which software was best for their child. Kidscape was installed at a number of stores, but it was discontinued at a number of them within two years.
Some stores also opened early for the Windows 98 launch, which included a number of offers, including an SPC CD with Harvard Graphics and Quicken. Other products, such as modems and printers, were promoted at $98.
Harvey Norman has relied on 'bricks & mortar' stores as its strength. When suppliers such as Compaq and IBM started supplying direct, Harvey Norman stopped selling those products in-store. After Compaq later stopped selling direct, Harvey Norman returned to selling Compaq PC products.
Harvey Norman's growth occurred organically until it acquired Joyce Mayne in 1998. A number of electrical stores in Western Australia, some of which were owned by Wesfarmers, were purchased. Further acquisitions followed and by 2000 the chain had 100 stores. In 2006, Retravision was struggling, and a number of Retravision stores were acquired by Harvey Norman. Many were later converted to either Harvey Norman or Joyce Mayne stores, but those that were not successful were closed down.
Harvey Norman's operating structure is unusual in that each store department (flooring, bedding, furniture, computer and electrical) is operated by a separate entity of management. Thus many superstores are a combination of three or four separate businesses managed independently contributing revenue to Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. through lease payments and a portion of sales. Overseas, Harvey Norman stores are directly owned and operated by the ASX-listed, Sydney-based parent company, Harvey Norman Holdings Limited. However, sales commissions are still heavily used across all departments of the store to motivate salespeople, drive sales and improve service.
Retail marketing consultant Kevin Moore argues that this 'high reward-based remuneration structure' drives Harvey Norman's point of difference and is what contributes, at least partly, to its retail dominance. "Almost all the people in a Harvey Norman are there because they are great salespeople, can propose solutions for customers and are paid in line with what they sell... So when you walk into a Harvey Norman, the guys on the floor have a real reason to help you. You walk away happy at the end of the day having spent money with them. And so do the staff because some of the money you left in the store goes to them... for helping you solve a problem in your life." 
Harvey Norman is the flagship brand of Harvey Norman Holdings Pty Ltd. Harvey Norman is mainly a household goods retailer — with items being sold in their stores including major appliances, small appliances, information technology (such as computers, printers and mobile phones), furniture, bedding and flooring among other things. There are 166 Harvey Norman franchised complexes in Australia, as at 12 June 2015, with separate franchisees owning and operating separate departments. New South Wales is the state with the most Harvey Norman stores (57), followed by Victoria (38), Queensland (36), Western Australia (19), South Australia (10), Tasmania (6), Northern Territory (2) and the Australian Capital Territory (1).
Harvey Norman Design and Renovations is a subsidiary of Harvey Norman Holdings Limited. The design and renovations arm of the company specialises in bathroom, kitchen, wardrobe, home office, bars and home theatre renovations, and featured showroom franchises in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. The Victorian and South Australian outlets have since closed, leaving 5 New South Wales outlets in operation.
Domayne is a furniture, bedding, flooring, computers, electrical and homewares chain independently operated by franchisees (and whose brand is owned by Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd). They focus on 'fashion and design' in their furniture range, with a hallmark of theirs being their range of 'contemporary', Australian-made furniture. While their focus is on furniture and bedding, certain outlets (such as former Joyce Mayne stores) also stock as well as higher-end cooking appliances. As of the 9th of June 2016, there are 19 Domayne franchised complexes Australia-wide, with 12 in New South Wales, 3 in Queensland, 2 in Victoria, 1 each in the Australian Capital Territory and in Western Australia.
Joyce Mayne (slogan: Where the smart money shops) is a retail chain offering similar products to Harvey Norman. They mainly offer whitegoods, small appliances, stationery and IT products (such as mobile phones, computers and printers). There are 6 Joyce Mayne stores left in Australia as of the 9th of June 2016 — 4 in Queensland (Maroochydore, Chancellor Park, Toowoomba and Townsville) and 2 in New South Wales (Nowra and Warrawong).
In August 2007, market analysts suggested Harvey Norman would launch a rival "big-box" stationery and office supplies competitor to Officeworks before June 2008. Harvey Norman has registered the brand name OFIS and as a result of the acquisition of former Megamart and Retravision stores, has access to well-placed potential sites on which to open Officeworks-sized outlets. In December 2007, Harvey Norman announced it would be opening its first two OFIS stores in Albury and the Sydney suburb of Auburn in March 2008. They aimed to have 100 stores within ten years. In all, five OFIS outlets were established, but proved unprofitable and in February 2009 Harvey Norman stated it would close all of the stores by June 2009 and abandon the concept.
School Locker is aimed at primary and high school students, selling school uniforms, stationery as well as sports and musical equipment. There is 2 big box-style retail stores in New South Wales and 4 in Queensland in addition to a dozen School Campus stores. 
There are five BiG BUYS stores in Australia, located in Springvale, VIC, Cambridge, TAS, Munno Para, SA, Auburn, NSW and Maroochydore, QLD. They sell some of Harvey Norman's range, plus music instruments, camping gear, luggage, pet and baby products. BiG BUYS also has an online store via the Harvey Norman website.
As of 30 June 2015, Harvey Norman Holdings' overseas operations (all conducted under the Harvey Norman brand) are in:
With the exception of Malaysia and Singapore, all overseas operations are directly owned and operated by Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. or its associated companies.
The Harvey Norman stores in Malaysia and Singapore are ultimately owned and operated by a Singaporean company, Pertama Holdings Limited. Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. and its associated companies effectively own 80.2% of the company, with a Singaporean sporting goods and fashion distributor, Ossia International, holding 19.8%. Formerly listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), on July 8, 2013, it was finally delisted after the proportion of shares in free float fell below 10%. Under the former ownership structure, as of July 2013 Harvey Norman Singapore (a wholly owned subsidiary of ASX-listed Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd.) and Harvey Norman Ossia (Asia) Ltd.—a 60/40 joint-venture with Ossia International—had held over 83% of Pertama's shares.
The 86 company-owned overseas stores of Harvey Norman contributed around 10%, or AU$36.5 million, of the parent company's AU$378 million profit in the financial year ended 30 June 2015 — an increase of 32% from the previous financial year. This excludes the financial impact of the overseas property Harvey Norman owns for its stores. New Zealand was the only overseas market to recorded a rise in profit over the last financial year (from AU$49.75 million to AU$53.11 million), with operations in Slovenia and Croatia posting a small profit decline (from AU$3.02 million to AU$2.70 million) and all other overseas operations recording losses.
Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd previously operated Norman Ross stores in New Zealand. The first store opened on 4 December 2007 in Lower Hutt. All Norman Ross stores were rebranded as Harvey Norman in February 2013.
On 22 December 2011, Harvey Norman launched Harvey Norman Direct Import based in Ireland to ship games to buyers in Australia. The prices for video games are cheaper than the Australia-based online store of Harvey Norman.
In addition, Gerry Harvey has himself asserted on primetime Australian television in a January 2008 airing of Today Tonight that Flexirent should be turned down by the average family. This is why Harvey Norman promotes the product to its commercial customer base.