By Claire Reilly

Harvey Norman is set to close an underperforming store in the Canberra suburb of Woden, with 36 staff members to be either relocated or made redundant, the Canberra Times reports. According to Harvey Norman chief operating officer John Slack-Smith, the move to close the store was based “on commercial grounds”.

The store was part of the large Westfield Woden shopping mall, which houses 262 retailers and brought in annual sales of more than $416 million last year. The news of the Harvey Norman closure brings to an end the company’s 30 years as a tenant in the mall.

Speaking about the move, Slack-Smith said it was a difficult decision for the company.

“In the retail industry, having a growing store presence is important to the overall model,” said Slack-Smith. “So if your strategy is to contract then all you are doing is increasing the potential opportunity or risk of allowing your competitors to grow.

“The decisions about closing stores or reducing your footprint are ones not taken lightly, because we absolutely want good old-fashioned economies of scale where we've got lots of shopfronts.”

The closure will leave just one Harvey Norman store remaining in the ACT, serving a population of approximately 365,000, as well as a Domayne-branded store. Both stores are located in the industrial Fyshwick area. According to Slack-Smith, these stores were well placed to take on some of the staff shed from Woden, though numbers have not been confirmed.

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