Gerry Harvey's shrugs off $4 million loss after horse dies - petsitterbank

Gerry Harvey’s shrugs off $4 million loss after horse dies

Gerry Harvey, founder and chairman of retail giant Harvey Norman. Photo/Getty Images

People, horses and health.

Those things matter more than money to one of Australia’s richest men, billionaire businessman Gerry Harvey.

The founder and chairman of retail giant Harvey Norman turned 83 this week. His net worth is somewhere north of $2 billion.

But when he talks about the “blessed life” he lives, he isn’t referring to his bank balance.

It’s part of the reason he shrugs off massive losses that many Australians can’t fathom.

“I just had a mare die the other day that was worth $4 million, not insured,” he tells news.com.au.

“I looked down and I’d lost $4 million in one hit but I thought about it for five minutes at the most and I certainly didn’t get agitated. Because you just roll with the punches.

“In the big picture, I’m still alive, I’m still healthy. I got sick the other week and I was really sick with a virus. I would’ve given away every penny I’ve just got to be healthy.

“The money side of it, your assets, I couldn’t give a damn. At the end of the day you’ve got to be happy and healthy, nothing else matters.

“If you’re useful, you feel as if you’re contributing to society, you’re building a business, you’re doing all sorts of things all the time.

“If that’s your life then you’ve got a blessed life. So I’ve just got to keep remembering how lucky I am.”

Rolling with the punches is a fitting phrase for a man whose work involves “disasters every second day”.

Last week, moments before we sit down to talk, Harvey watched a senior employee walk out the door and away from a $250,000 salary.

They had been head-hunted and offered 50 per cent more to go elsewhere.

“Every day now we’re sitting here seeing somebody else resign because they got a lot more money somewhere else,” he says.

“Just one minute ago that’s what happened. There’s a lot of that happening at the moment.”

The pandemic hit hard for businesses around the world and Harvey Norman was not immune.

Revenue fell $163 million last financial year because of lockdowns and Covid restrictions, but a bounce-back is happening.

Sales remain strong despite record inflation and interest-rate rises month after month.

Harvey calls it “a very strange time”.

“We’re in a very strange and different place than we’ve probably been in my lifetime,” he says.

“We’re getting less customers, less people through the door, but the ones that are coming in are buying so our sales are quite good. In terms of margin and size of the sale, they’re as good as ever.”

A more than 10 per cent rise in sales since July 1 does not mean Harvey will stick with the retail game.

At 83, he is considering all options.

“From my point of view, as a businessman, I’ve got to sort of figure out, you know, where’s my business going in the future? What sort of shop do I build and where do I build it?

“Do I build shops? Do I get out of shops and start mining uranium because that’ll be the big new thing, or lithium or rare metals?

“Or do I go in and start building houses because there’s not enough in Australia? There’s so many different things that you’ve got to work out what’s the future and what sort of business do you do.”

Retirement is not on the cards.

“Why would you slow down at 83? It’s more interesting like this. Every day I’ve got all these challenges and triumphs and disasters.”

On the prospect of life after 90, Harvey says he is constantly learning from his elders.

“Every time I come across somebody who is over 90, I question them: ‘How’d you get to 90? What exercise do you do? How’s your diet?'”

“Sometimes it’s a local bloke who might not even be making money, still working hard at 92. Doing a lot of exercise, his diet is good, he’s happy, healthy — I’m gonna talk to him.

“He doesn’t have to be successful. He just has to be alive and well. In my observations, the ones that do that have a longer happier life.”

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