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Harris Scarfe is an Australian retailer that sells bed linen, kitchenware, homewares, electrical appliances, and apparel. It is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It has a growing e-commerce retail presence in Australia and is considered a multi-channel department store retailer.
|Founded||1849, Adelaide, South Australia|
|Founders||George Peter Harris and John C. Lanyon|
Number of locations
|68 stores (Jan, 2018)|
|Products||Bed linen, homewares, kitchenware, manchester, electrical goods, kitchen appliances, womens and mens apparel, intimates, footwear and luggage|
Number of employees
Founded in 1849, Harris Scarfe operates 70 retail stores nationally in two formats including "Harris Scarfe" department stores and "Harris Scarfe Home" homewares and kitchenware stores.
- Early History
Harris Scarfe traces its history to 10 February 1849, when the founding partners, George Peter Harris and John C. Lanyon, arrived in Adelaide South Australia on the ship, "Candahar", to establish a hardware and ironmongery business. One of their first known advertisements in the local Adelaide paper was on 11 April 1850. Lanyon left the partnership on 22 February 1855 and returned to London, where he subsequently opened up a buying house for Geo. P Harris and other businesses in South Australia. This firm acted as the London house for many years. Additional partners, George Scarfe and Richard Smith, joined the business in 1866 on a handshake, and the business name "Geo. P. Harris, Scarfe & Co." was adopted in December that year. The deeds were drawn up on 10 July 1871.
Harris Scarfe grew to become a major supplier of a broad range of household, agricultural and industrial items. Geo. P Harris returned to England in 1873 where he died on 26 November that year, aged 52. George Scarfe continued on as chairman of the business until he died on 14 April 1903, aged 76.
Besides conducting its retailing business from its Adelaide premises, Harris Scarfe manufactured leather goods, including saddlery and luggage. It also had a wholesaling operation, with a team of commercial travellers who visited country regions throughout South Australia. This business was supported with a promotional product catalogue, which became well known in country areas. During World War II, when the Australian Government enforced price controls, it used the Harris Scarfe catalogue as the price guide. After World War II, Harris Scarfe's prosperity grew with South Australia, as it supplied building materials during the postwar building boom.
In 1971, Baradeen Quest Pty Limited, a subsidiary of Investment and Merchant Finance Corporation Limited ("IMFC") made a successful takeover bid for Harris Scarfe Limited, which at the time was a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall) store continued trading, with expansion of its frontage to establish a new womenswear department.
Charles Davis Limited, a listed Tasmanian company controlled by Sir Donald Trescowthick, acquired control of Harris Scarfe in 1976, when Charles Davis took over IMFC. Trescowthick wished to acquire Harris Scarfe, and his research indicated that the cheapest way of doing so was to take over its parent company. The Trescowthick era started with growth and ended with collapse in 2001.
Trescowthick focussed Harris Scarfe's activities on its retailing business and disposed of all of its other activities. The Rundle Mall store continued to develop as a full line department store, while the industrial products outlet at Mile End evolved to become Harry's, a large hardware retailing business. The success of Harry's led Harris Scarfe's parent company, Charles Davis Limited, to acquire other hardware retailers, including Lloyd's in South Australia, Campbell's in Queensland, and McEwans in Victoria and New South Wales.
In 1989, these hardware businesses were sold in a management buyout, and acquired by Bunnings in 1993.
The Rundle Mall department store continued to prosper, offering a broad range of items at "value for money" pricing, with aggressive advertising. Sales were facilitated by a range of purchase options, including an in-house credit card and lay-by. Harris Scarfe's business was heavily promoted, with press and television advertising, and colourful advertising catalogues. These catalogues were broadly distributed in the Sunday Mail newspaper. As a result, Harris Scarfe built a large phone and mail order business, supported by the advertising catalogues.
In the 1990s, Harris Scarfe began an era of unprecedented growth, both within South Australia and nationally. It expanded from its single large store in Rundle Mall into a smaller format for suburban and regional shopping centres (several of these stores were formerly occupied by the defunct Venture chain), as well as acquiring full-line department store sites from other retailers (including David Jones (Cairns, Townsville and Campbelltown NSW), John Martins (Elizabeth and Arndale), Myer (Colonnades), Centre Fair (Shepparton) and Stirlings (Albany, Bunbury and Geraldton)). This growth began from the company's base in South Australia and was aided by the demise of the Venture chain of stores previously found throughout the country.
The company continued its aggressive expansion interstate, opening stores in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. The company acquired a large amount of its retail space (and its largest stores) as a result of Australia's two largest department store chains Myer and David Jones rationalising their store network. The company's expansion into Tasmania was accelerated by the merger with the Tasmanian department store chain FitzGerald's (better known to locals as "Fitzys") in 1995. Hence, Harris Scarfe played a key role in the rationalisation of Australian retailing in the 1990s.
In 1994, Harris Scarfe opened its first store in suburban Adelaide, at Parabanks in Salisbury. Following this successful store opening (in a former Venture store), Harris Scarfe acquired more sites in South Australia, as well as expanding its activities to other States.
During 1995, Harris Scarfe assumed control of the FitzGerald's Department Stores chain, which had been operated as a separate subsidiary of Charles Davis Limited since it was acquired in 1986. Also in 1995, Charles Davis Limited changed its name to Harris Scarfe Holdings Limited, and it then focussed on its department store activities, disposing of all of its other businesses and investments. Harris Scarfe continued to grow, becoming Australia's third largest department store retailer, with 38 stores, and trading in all states of Australia.
In 2002, the company started a revitalisation program. The store network was remodelled with new products, layouts and a new company logo. This was then followed by an extensive advertising campaign. As a result, Harris Scarfe soon began to enjoy record sales. Harris Scarfe opened its first new store after the revitalisation, located at Werribee in Victoria. This was seen as a major step forward for the new company and resulted with much success in the growing Werribee area. This store was divested to Myer in 2007, as part of a deal where Myer acquired a minority shareholding in Harris Scarfe.
By 2007, Sydney-based Momentum Private Equity took an $80 million majority stake in the company after a life-saving restructure by a consortium led by former management. Momentum Corporate sold the business to Pepkor, a South African private equity house which owns discount retailer Best&Less. Pepkor owns retail businesses in Africa, Europe and Australia, and turns over $2.6 billion a year. The group bought Best & Less in 1998 and has grown the chain from 84 to about 200 stores.
In October 2013, Harris Scarfe officially launched Simply Vera, by Vera Wang which is designed by Vera Wang who is based in New York City. The collection comprises a range of contemporary women's fashion, accessories, bed and bath collections and home fragrances.
In 2017, Harris Scarfe also collaborated with Shayna Blaze, an interior designer from The Block on bed linens, homewares, accessories and apparel. During April 2018, they launched a new collection with Jamie Durie, TV personality The Outdoor Room named Jamie Durie by Ardor which is a casual bed linen product range.
Harris Scarfe are department stores which offer Harris Scarfe's full range of bed linen, homewares, cookwares, manchester, apparel, electrical appliances, kitchen appliances, menswear, womenswear, intimates, sportswear, travel and outdoor.
Harris Scarfe Home are homeware stores which offer Harris Scarfe's bed linen, homewares, cookwares, kitchen appliances, electrical goods, personal care and bathroom electricals.
Simply Vera – Vera WangEdit
In October 2013, Harris Scarfe were officially launched as the only Australian retailer allowed to sell the Simply Vera range  designed by Vera Wang who is based in New York City. The collection comprises a range of contemporary women's fashion, accessories, bed and bath collections & home fragrance.
Jamie Durie - By ArdorEdit
Harris Scarfe stores sell the following products:
- Bed Linen & Manchester – bedding, linen, towels, manchester, pillows, decorative cushions
- Homewares – crockery, cutlery, glassware, food preparation
- Kitchenware and Cookware – cook sets, fry pans, cast iron
- Personal Care & Bathroom Electrical – hairdryers, shavers
- Kitchen Appliances – kettles, toasters, food processors, blenders
- Electrical Appliances - heaters, fans, cookers, grills, toasters
- Clothing and Apparel - womenswear, menswear
- Travel – luggage, accessories
- "Advertising". The Adelaide Express. IV (914). South Australia. 17 December 1866. p. 2. Retrieved 22 October 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- Harper, Jane (23 July 2012). "Harris Scarfe sold to private South African equity house, Pepkor". Herald Sun.
- Sweaty Betty PR (25 September 2013). "Simply Vera – Vera Wang for Harris Scarfe". Gracious Magazine.
- Garland, Phoebes (22 October 2013). "Simply Vera – Vera Wang collaborates with heritage department store Harris Scarfe". fashioninitiative.com.au.
- Forte Magazine (18 October 2017). "Shayna Blaze for Harris Scarfe". Forte Magazine.
- Harris Scarfe (16 April 2018). "The Art of bringing the outdoors in with Jamie Durie by Ardor". hub Harris Scarfe.
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