The Financial Week Ahead – Branching out.

Absolutely fabulous times they may not be for high street retailers, but Harvey Nichols is on the brink of regional and global expansion.

Chartered accountant and chief executive Joseph Wan has overseen steady growth and next Tuesday releases the group’s annual results along with FD Clive Morton, an ex-KPMG colleague.

Although the accountant duo aim to double profits at Harvey Nicks within the next five years with extra stores in Leeds, Edinburgh and Manchester, Wan is wary about sustaining the exclusiveness of the Harvey Nicks’ name and wary about expansion.

The groups interim pre-tax profits in October were #62.3m, up only one per cent on the previous year.

However, a storm has whipped up north of the border among the citizens of Edinburgh over #1m of public money earmarked for a central shopping development centred around Harvey’s new store.

A licensing agreement signed last year for a new store in Riyadh has proved more popular. Arab customers make up 30% of visitors to the Knightsbridge store.

The group has also diversified with two new restaurants in London. One is in the Oxo Tower and the other, Prism, in the City.

Wan has even decided to cash in on London property prices and last month put up their flagship Knightsbridge store’s freehold for a cool #75m with the chance of raking rent at the moment at #3.27m until 2031.

‘Retail is just detail,’ Wan said. ‘Being an accountant is an advantage as you’re trained to pay attention to detail.’

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