Harvey Norman Finally Repaid $6M In JobKeeper, Prying It From Gerry’s Cold, Possibly Dead Hands

The good news: Harvey Norman has finally seen fit to return $6 million in JobKeeper subsidies it received from the Federal Government, presumably after being visited by three Christmas ghosts. The less good news: the company has done so only now, after formally recording a before-tax adjusted profit of $1.18 billion (with a b) for the last financial year.

Harvey Norman released its annual report this morning, detailing its financial position for FY21. In good news for people named Gerry, the results are fairly eye-watering.

For the year ending June 30th 2021, Harvey Norman recorded a before-tax profit of $1.183 billion. Which in and of itself is a profit increase of $521 million year-on-year. Total revenue for the company shot up 15.3% to $9.72 billion.

Interestingly enough, however, buried deep in a footnote of the report was the assertion that “Subsequent to the year-end, in August 2021, all of the wages support and assistance received by controlled entities in Australia of $6.02m (financial year 2021 $3.63m, financial year 2020 $2.39m) was repaid to the federal government via the Australian Taxation Office.”

In this case, “controlled entities” refers specifically to stores and locations that the main Harvey Norman corporation owns. Thus the $6.02 million repayment falling well short of the estimated $22 million that was paid out to all Harvey Norman stores – including those owned and operated by franchisees – throughout the throes of the 2020 pandemic shutdown.

The company’s founder and principle stockholder Gerry Harvey quite infamously refused to return the JobKeeper payments, claiming back in February that “From our point of view it’s a tiny amount of money.”

“Some people think it’s a great idea to repay it, that’s their opinion. At this stage, we’re not going to repay it,” Harvey said at the time.

Credit where it’s due: $6.02 million is a comparatively tiny amount of money when you stack it up against one point one eight billion.

Unfortunately for those of you hoping for some sort of grand comeuppance with Gerry tearfully handing the money back over, you’re not going to come away from this with any great sense of satisfaciton.

Harvey Norman’s profits are so large that shareholders will be paid out a staggering $436 million in dividends. And as the company’s majority stockholder, Gerry Harvey will personally be receiving $140 million of that.

So, it’s not a good ending. But it’s technically not a totally bad ending.

It’s just an ending. That’s probably enough.