Harvey Norman punished after dividend cut

A record profit has not been enough to save Harvey Norman from a sharemarket savaging after the retailer cut its full-year dividend on Thursday.

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Harvey Norman shares had fallen 7 per cent – or 31?? a share – by midday after it announced a fully franked 26?? a share dividend for the the 2017 financial year, down from 30?? in 2016.

The company said it was reviewing its capital management and weighing up a share buyback and possible investments.

The sell-off came despite Harvey Norman announcing its net profit jumped 29 per cent to $449 million for the year, beating analysts’ expectations.

Sales from company-owned stores in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Croatia rose 2.1 per cent and earnings jumped 24 per cent to $90 million.

“This is a fantastic effort from our offshore operations,” company chairman Gerry Harvey said in a statement.

“The success of our flagship strategy is clearly evident in these results.”

Australian franchisee sales increased 5.4 per cent to $5.62 billion as housing construction and renovation continued to be “robust”, Mr Harvey said.

This sales growth and higher franchisee fees sent Harvey Norman head office’s earnings from Australian stores up 13 per cent to $304.5 million, the company said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Tom Kierath said there had been a “considerable slowing” in comparable sales at Harvey Norman in the fourth quarter, growing at 2.3 per cent compared to 7.4 per cent in January and February.

Harvey Norman’s share price has slid by almost a quarter over the past year, under the weight of fears Amazon will eat into its sales and profitability when the American online retailer opens in Australia next year.

Citi analysts have suggested competition from Amazon could force Harvey Norman to lower its profit margin by between 1.8 and 2.5 per cent.

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Singleton’s Rod Davies and Branxton’s Tim Nugent return from 2017 F-Class World Championships with a bevy of medals

Golden haul | PHOTOS Branxton’s Tim Nugent and Singleton’s Rod Davies

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappTHE local area is now home to a couple of internationally-acclaimed marksmen.

Singleton’s Rod Davies and Branxton’s Tim Nugent have returned from the 2017 F-Class World Championships, in Canada, with a bevy of medals.

The titles for long-range rifle shooting using telescopic sights wrapped up at the Connaught Range in Ottawa, attracting more than 600 competitors.

Davies, 47, won four individual golds and a bronze in the F-Open class, scoring 89 bullseyes from 100 shots across 700, 800 and 900-metre ranges.

His total of 489 put him four clear of UK’s Paul Sandie with another Australian, Adam Pohl, a further three in arrears.

He then joined fellow Cessnock Rifle Club member Nugent, who owns a metal fabrication business in Branxton, in the eight-member national team.

The squad successfully defended its F-Open crown, which Australia won at the previous championships in New Mexico in 2013.

On this occasion, Nugent led the scores for the “green and gold” with 443 points from a possible 450.

Davies admitted he was “very, very happy” with the outcome.

“I was quietly confident of doing well before the event – and aiming for a top 10 position,” the WesTrac workshop supervisor at Ravensworth North mine said.

“I thought if things went okay, I might do better.

“But, I probably wasn’t expecting this [result].

“In the end, there was a lot of relief, too.

“It took almost two hours for the final results to come through.

“I knew I was in with a chance, however it was still a bit nerve-wracking.”

After two seasons with an organisation in Cairns, Davies has spent the past seven years with the Cessnock Rifle Club.

And, he’s not about to rest on his laurels either, despite his recent overseas success.

“I’m having a bit of a break,” he admitted.

“Then I’m taking aim at the Victorian and South Australian state championships early in the new year.”

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House of the WeekHamilton South

House of the Week | Hamilton South TweetFacebook House of the week | Hamilton South Family adds their chapter to historic home’s story. Photos by Paul Dear+18Family adds their chapter to historic home’s story. Photos by Paul DearMORE GALLERIES

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappAfter years of relocating, an air force family are now first-time home owners, settling into a Hamilton South home built in the late 1920s. Louise is from Parkes and her husband, Grant, is from the Gold Coast.

Since they have been together they’ve had three children and lived in eight places, including time in Canada and five years previously in Newcastle.

“Newcastle is home for us. My husband did all his training here, I came to visit him. The first week I came I was like ‘this is it’,” Louise says.

After three months of intense renovations, the family moved in during March 2016. They’re hoping they can stay put in Newcastle for at least the next 18 months, if not longer. They bought the home three days before Grant’s deployment.

Their historic house on Smith Street was built for Newcastle Harbour Master Captain Henderson.

“Captain Henderson was here for roughly 40 years; it’s funny because the neighbors have been here all that time, and they used to do his grocery shopping,” she says.

After Captain Henderson, the next owners doubled the size of the house, extending the living area and building a garage and loft.

The house is in a heritage conservation zone, so they had to get approval to make changes to the exterior. While making changes, they wanted to retain the cornices and the solid timber doors and frames.

“You don’t want to strip out all of the beautiful art deco heritage features. It was a lot of effort working between contemporary and art deco,” Louise says.

The couplegot rid of a lot of the furniture they had accumulated since marrying almost 16 years ago, with the exception of a bar they bought when they lived in the Northern Territory and barstools that were inherited from Louise’s grandmother when she passed away 10 years ago.

They rewired the entire house, changed the paint and the floors. They redid the 1950s wardrobes, which were covered in contact paper.

“We’ve had every tradie known to man,” Louise says of the house. “My husband was away for the first half of the year; I was working managing 12 trades. I had them all on this deadline.”

She got as much done as she could while her husband was away so that they could chill out and enjoy their time together when he got back.

The house’s spacious dining, kitchen and family room is the biggest room in the house. It’s painted light blue with windows down an entire side that bring in great light.

Before, the kitchen was beige laminate with sandstone tiles on the floor.

“The kitchen took a month,” Louise says. “It’s a very technical kitchen, particularly as we’ve got quite advanced ovens. It was the surprisingly most complex thing.”

They tore down a wall, so what used to be a formal dining and sitting room is now one swanky lounge room and bar. It’s painted in rich navy blue and featuresstained glass windows and doors. It also has classic ceiling roses. The large space has a very different vibe to the sunny kitchen. Louise calls it the “grown ups’ room,” and she eventually wants to put in a fireplace.

They also have three bedrooms and the study. She said the study and bathroom still needed work. She’s taken particular care of the kids’ bedrooms. She made all the decorations for her three-year-old daughter Lara’s room.

“I’m really picky about what I want, so if I can’t find what I want I make it,” Louise says. “In Lara’s room there’s a cross stitch that I did when I was 10. To make it suit her colour scheme I took the matting out of the frame and painted it.”

Along with being crafty herself, a few shops around town helped her create her vision. The lights in her lounge room are from Papa Sven in Newcastle, and the solid timber furniture came from Wildflower Furniture in Warners Bay. She got her lounges from Plush in Newcastle. Thriving plants are all over her house, many from High Swan Dive.

They changed their home’s exterior as well. They put in an outdoor shower, paved areas, installed an electric gateand rendered the fence. Everything is new except the pool. They dug up about 10 metres of agapanthus and replanted them around the entire outside fence. Their kids now tend to the vegetables in the new garden.

Louise said Grant was incredibly supportive of all her plans.

“I kept waiting for my husband to say ‘no this is a crazy idea’, but he never did, bless his heart,” she says.

Louise said there’s more to be done, but for now she’s happy to take a break and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

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Alan Jones accused of inciting violence against women in Cloud Arch tweet

“Can you believe it?”: Alan Jones took to Twitter on Thursday to attack the Cloud Arch sculpture. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBroadcaster Alan Jones has been accused of inciting violence against women in a tweet attacking City of Sydney’s controversial artwork, the Cloud Arch, and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

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Taking to Twitter on Thursday, the 2GB host slammed the City of Sydney’s proposed Cloud Arch sculpture, a 58-metre artwork that will frame the city’s Town Hall.

It’s a project backed by Cr Moore, and has been at the centre of a long-running battle between the city’s councillors. Last week, it was revealed the structure’s revised cost had increased from $3.5 million to $11.3 million.

“$11.3m – can you believe it? You can guess what many people would rather hang 58 metres over George Street…and it’s not a Cloud Arch,” Jones published to his 8000 followers.

People were quick to allege the man, who describes himself online as “Australia’s most influential and respected radio broadcaster”, was once again inciting violence against women.

While others suggested he was referring to a rainbow flag or Canberra’s famous Skywhale, a controversial hot air balloon.

Thursday’s tweet is the latest recorded incident of the self-proclaimed feminist using visceral language when referencing issues championed by some of the country’s female politicians.

Last month during a fiery exchange with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian he warned that her head “was in a noose” over her government’s mining policy in the Liverpool Plains.

In 2012, after numerous advertisers and sponsors threatened to abandon his radio show, he apologised to former prime minister Julia Gillard after he suggested she should be “shoved” in a “chaff bag” and taken “far out to sea”.

In the same speech, which was secretly recorded at a Sydney University Liberal Club President’s dinner, he suggested Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame”.

Jones has also compared previous NSW premier Mike Baird to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fairfax Media has approached Clover Moore for comment.

Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, is a majority owner of 2GB.

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Harbour precinct open to the public for the first time in 150 years

Sub Base Platypus looking towards North Sydney. Photo: SuppliedIt is one of Sydney Habour’s hidden gems. A sprawling precinct, dotted with empty warehouses and old factories, overlooking the water on Sydney’s north shore.

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For more than 150 years it has been closed to the public.

But all that is about to change. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is opening up the 1.8 hectare site in the hope it will become Sydney’s newest cultural and commercial hub.

Located less than a kilometre from North Sydney’s CBD, the site was once a gasworks factory and later became a submarine base known as HMAS Platypus.

On Thursday, the precinct was publicly unveiled and relaunched as Sub Base Platypus.

Chief executive of the Harbour Trust, Mary Darwell, said parts of the site will be opened to the public from as early as mid 2018, while restoration work is completed.

“Once completed, we will see Sub Base Platypus become a special destination for Sydneysiders and visitors alike, providing a range of facilities and venues for cultural performances, function areas, cafes and restaurants, as well as offices and commercial spaces,” Ms Darwell said.

Chair of the Harbour Trust Kevin McCann, said the “industrial heritage values of the buildings will be retained, [but] the buildings and public spaces will be adapted and made available to cultural, community and commercial organisations.”

The former submarine workshops, for example, will be revitalised to provide a sequence of terraces, streets, squares and gardens.

Businesses and community organisations will be able to lease eight buildings across the precinct, including the former submarine workshops, the former torpedo factory, the old submarine school, and the old gas work offices.

The oldest building on the site is the Retort House, a prefabricated iron building which dates back to 1886 and was originally used for the conversion of coal to gas.

As a gasworks, the facility provided provide gas for street lights, homes and businesses on the North Shore.

However, the site was reclaimed for Australia’s war effort in 1942 by the Commonwealth Government and it was transformed into a torpedo manufacturing and maintenance factory. It also operated as a service facility for the naval vessels of the Pacific Fleet.

At the height of wartime production, the torpedo factory – the largest building on the precinct – employed 200 civilian workers, a quarter of whom were women. The building continued to be used for torpedo manufacturing and repair until the 1990s

The precinct took on a new role again in 1967, when it became the base of the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines and was named HMAS Platypus.

City begin global search for Fornaroli injury replacement

Melbourne City have already begun the international search to find an injury replacement for star striker Bruno Fornaroli, the club’s top goalscorer for the past two seasons.

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And given their high profile connection with owners Manchester City, the options are plentiful.

The Melbourne side could look to tap into the City squad for an on-loan replacement or search for another forward who is out of favour at their club and might be interested in securing regular game time over the next four months.

City’s scouting network is global – it delivered Fornaroli to them two seasons ago – and new coach Warren Joyce and his management team will also be able to tap into their expertise.

Fornaroli, City’s marquee player, is expected to be out of action until at least the new year having suffered a fractured ankle in City’s 3-2 FFA Cup win over Sydney Hakoah on Tuesday night.

His loss is a major blow to the City Football Group-owned club given his goalscoring record. In his first season in the A-League, Fornaroli scored 28 goals in the Cup and League, while in his second he netted 20 in the two competitions.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has rung the changes at the Etihad and in the last days of the transfer window City is reported to be moving on several players.

While Melbourne would no doubt love to have access to the likes of City’s out-of-favour Ivory Coast frontman Wilfried Bony as a short term signing he is thought far more likely to rejoin Swansea City, the Premier League club at which he made his name in England. He has also been linked to a surprise loan move to Italian club Hellas Verona as well as with Spartak Moscow, Marseille and Valencia.

Still, Melbourne City’s financial firepower and the fact that any short-term signing would fall under Fornaroli’s marquee status so his wage would not be counted under the salary cap, certainly gives them plenty of potential targets.

Given that Fornaroli – who will have surgery next week when the swelling goes down – is expected to return in January, any well-credentialled overseas signing who comes as a short term replacement could then look to move on from his parent club in the European January transfer window.

He would, if he played regularly in the A-League, maintain his fitness and be match fit for any new employer should he be able to secure a transfer then.

A move to Australia might look left field, but for some it might be a more tempting prospect than playing low intensity soccer in the reserves in front of paltry crowds through a European winter.

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Hunter Catholic school principal discourages teachers from publicly supporting same-sex marriage

Edict: St Pius X principal Robert Emery wrote to teachers he did not mean to alarm anyone by suggesting they not make comments contrary to church teachings. “My only intention is to to keep us all safe.” Picture: Marina NeilTEACHERS at one of the Hunter’s largest Catholic high schools have been issued an edict not to “say or suggest or imply” they support same-sex marriage.

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St Pius X High School Adamstown principal Robert Emery has written two emails to staff warning that while they should vote in the upcoming marriage law postal survey according to their conscience, they shouldn’t “put yourself out there in a way that could be detrimental to your employment or promotional prospects in a Catholic school”.

Mr Emery said while staff didn’t need to delete comments previously made on social media, they should “be careful from this point onwards not to say or write anything online or in class that could be seen as contradicting Catholic Church teaching”.

“That is not a sensible thing to do when you are an employee of the Catholic diocese,” he wrote.

“It is completely permissible to answer student questions about the issue provided you present both sides of the debate in a fair and non-judgemental way.

“You are of course also OK to say that you agree with the church’s view on the issue, if that is what you believe.

“It is NOT OK [sic] to say or suggest or imply that you believe the other side of the debate is the correct one – even if you do!”

A Catholic Schools Office (CSO) spokeswoman said Mr Emery wrote the emails based on hisresponsibility to ensure staff were acting in compliance with the CSO’s code of conduct.

A concerned parent who saw the emails said they were “blown away” by the reference to future opportunities for career advancement.

“The overwhelming feeling I got was that they seemed threatening,” the parent said.

But the CSO refuted this, saying “all decisions on employment, promotion and reward will be made on the basis of merit and will not discriminate on the basis of particular attributes”.

The Catholic Schools Officedeclined to comment on ramifications for teachersfound to publicly support the ‘yes’ vote, except to say they had been “remindednot to bring personal opinion into the debate, but rather address both sides of the same sex marriage debate with their students”.

Principal RobertEmery said teachers hadn’t been discouraged from discussingthe issue.

“The students are really interested in the same sex marriage debate, very much from a social justice perspective and teachers have spoken about both sides of the debate with their students,” he said.

“The discussions have detailed what is currently occurring –that there are people fighting for the right for marriage equalityand conversations also touch on the church’s teachings.”

But a concerned parent said hearing personal opinions only from teachers whodid not support same sex marriage could skew students’ understanding of the issue.

“I can’t believe the email basically said feel free to speak out against it [same sex marriage], but don’t you dare say anything for it,” the parent said.

“What messages are being sent to kids of a vulnerable age?

“Is this the start of the negativity everyone predicted?

“It’s really concerning and upsetting because Bishop Bill Wright hasnot put any formal statement out, the principal has just taken it upon themselves to put this out.”

Bishop Wright said in a statement to theHerald“the diocese respects each individual’sright to their personal opinion on what the law should be on same sex marriage”.

Catholic schools St Ignatius’ College in Sydney and Xavier College in Melbourne have cautiously endorsed same-sex marriage in messages to parents, staff and students.

They referred to Pope Francis’ teachings on love, mercy and non-judgement and encouragedtheir school communitiesto dwell on their own consciences.

The Independent Education Union said it was“extremely concerned that our schools could become fertile ground for damaging speech” during the debate.

It said it wouldexpect schools to be “safe havens” and that“neither staff nor students are put into situations where inappropriate or hostile commentary, or action, is directed at them”.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) published a tip sheet this week about talkingwith children and young people about marriage equality and related issues.

It includes:

Let your children know it is ok to talk about marriage equality.Listen carefully to children to understand what they really want to know.Explain the meaning of LGBTI+ words.Let children know there is diversity in relationships.Talk to children about what marriage equality means.Offer alternate views of relationships – not everyone wants to get married.Clarify any confusion and misconceptions about the marriage equality vote.The Herald, Newcastle

Goodbye to Dubai: Qantas shifts London stopovers

Qantas is dropping Dubai from its network and will instead have its Europe-bound aircraft stop over in Singapore, in a major shake-up that repositions it towards the booming Asian market.

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The airline said on Thursday it would reroute its daily Sydney – London A380 service to fly via Singapore instead of Dubai from March 2018. That service will replace one of its two daily Sydney – Singapore A330 flights.

Qantas had already announced its Melbourne – London service will fly non-stop to Europe out of Perth on its new Dreamliners starting in March, meaning the airline will not have any flights to Dubai.

Flights to Singapore from Melbourne are also being ramped up as part of the overhaul, with Qantas’ daily service upgraded from a 235-seat A330 to a 484-seat A380 and its thrice weekly A330 service increased to a daily service.

Melbourne passengers will have the option to transfer in Singapore onto a flight to London as an alternative to the 17-hour leg out of Perth.

Qantas codeshare partner Emirates will continue to fly 77 weekly services to its base in Dubai, connecting to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which passengers will be able to book through Qantas.

The two airlines said on Thursday they would apply to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for a five-year extension to their alliance deal.

Qantas said it no longer needed to fly its own aircraft to Dubai as most of its passengers flew only to London and passengers flying elsewhere in Europe already flew their entire journey on Emirates.

“That means we can redirect some of our A380 flying into Singapore and meet the strong demand we’re seeing in Asia,” chief executive Alan Joyce said.

Australia’s biggest airline last said last week it was looking to do away with stop-overs en route to London all together, and had challenged manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to produce aircraft it could fly non-stop to the UK by 2022.

Qantas said the changes announced on Thursday would deliver it net benefits of more than $80 million a year from 2019.

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Feast on Father’s Day

FISH OF THE WEEK: Darcy Ittensohn wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 41cm whiting in the Swansea Channel recently.

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The Father’s Day weekend promises fishing fun, with reasonable weather on the radar and the lure of winter species in abundance.

The weather has been wild outside but will possibly abate by Saturday and present a great chance to chase snapper.

“They’ve been gettingreds up to 2kg in close this week and we’ve got a cracking tide just on 5am on Saturday,” Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse at Marks Point, said.

“If the seas calm down and you can get offshore its a grand opportunity to fish for a Father’s Day feast.”

Down south around Texas, there’s some been great kingfish about, up and over a metre, and a lot of longfin perch.

“The perch are great eating and only ever caught in deep water,” Jason said. “Generally in 100m to 120m of water, and they stick to the bottom.

“You fish for perch like you would for snapper, generally with smaller hooks, pillie strips, bonito, mackeral and even a prawn if you can get them down.

“At the moment there’s not a lot of current around so it’s a fantastic time to have a shot.”

Cool tailor

Closer to shore, the tailor have been going wild.

Jason bagged out during a windy, brisk but productive midweek session on the lake in an open tinnie.

“Bloody cold, with the wind chill but there is plenty of tailor around,” he said.

“The late afternoons go good with fishranging from 1kg to 1.5kg.”

Jason suspects they are starting to gather in the run-up to the full moon due next week.

“All the fish I caught through the week were fully roed up,” he said

“The deeper patches of water between Marks and Coal Points seem to be holding a heap of fish.

“I was casting to fish with shallow divers and they were absolutely crunching them.

“When they were coming into the boat they were spewing up white bait.

“It was pretty uncomfortable with the wind and chop, but it confirmed the theory that these conditions tend to raise the bait to the surface and the tailor were smashing them.

“They have been in this deep stretch of water for about a fortnight, compressed, stacked up on top of each other and as the moon approaches they push up.”

Outside inAnglers have been getting jew on squid, but they are pretty scarce in the lake. Squid that is.

It’s a different story offshore, but as mentioned the seas have made it tough getting out.

The upside to the big seas is they have pushed the bream inside.

“Bream have been going off in the southern sections of the lake, responding well to lures,” Jason said. “August is always a good month.”

Lean whitingThere’sgenerous numbers of whiting building up in the channel and they’ve been about in numbers near Aeropelican in the lake.

“They’re stacked up on the sand but not really on the chew,” Jason said.

“They seem lean and probably won’t bulk up until the next prawn run probably due mid-October out of the channel.”

It’s been a similar story with salmon; plenty about but not too much action.

“We’re seeing heaps on the surface doing their ‘guppie’ thing where they look like they’re biting at air, but not biting at anything else,” Jason said.

“I think it has something to do with spawning.”

Meanwhile, there’s a few luderick about but the best might be yet to come through September as fish begin to push back in from offshore.

“We’ve seen a few luderick around Swansea Bridge and out on Lucy’s Breakwall but the bigger fish tend to come in around September and are normally of a very good quality,” said Jason, who is a big rap on the weed fly if you can’t get hold of any genuine green weed.

Bay reportBream have been prevalent throughout Port Stephens and surrounds, responding to soft plastics and floating fish baits worked in chicken pelletberley, according to the guys at Duff’s Salamander Bait and Tackle.

Similarly, luderick have been about in numbers.

Stockton Beach has been throwing up plenty of bream of a night, biting on pipi, mullet and beach worms in thegutters. Don’t be surprised to find tailor, jew and whiting in the mix.

Local rock platforms, when accessible,have been producting tailor, bream, and jew.

Trag up to 3kg off the BIg Gibber have had anglers excited north of Nelson Bay while snapper continue to inhabit Sambo Reef, 21 and the V as well as the odd jew and rock cod around Broughton Island and Uralla Reef.

Closure overThe three-month fishing closure for Australian Bass and Estuary Perch in local rivers closes at midnight on August 31, allowing anglers to get back to targeting some of Australia’s great native sportsfish.

‘Stretched ourselves thin’: Ardent takes stock in US after hurricane hit

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 12: Ardent Leisure CEO Simon Kelly on June 12, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ben Rushton/Fairfax Media)Dreamworld theme park owner Ardent Leisure has flagged a more “measured” approach to the next phase of its US expansion as its entertainment centres in Houston took a hit from Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated parts of Texas.

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Ardent, the first Australian company to be directly impacted by the hurricane, described the closure of five centres as a “short-term” business interruption.

But chief executive Simon Kelly said the company’s immediate focus was on nursing the business through its recovery.

Main Event operates 38 centres across the US, offering a range of games from ten pin bowling to paint ball and laser tag under one roof.

Its five centres in the immediate Houston area have been closed since the hurricane struck the coast on August 26 and sustained varying degrees of damage.

Mr Kelly said the level of damage was being assessed but the process was being hampered by access and utility issues.

“We have insurance, so from a financial point of view it has no impact. But the welfare of our staff is a priority and we are working with them to ensure their safety,” Mr Kelly said.

Ardent expected three of the centres to re-open within seven days, while the fourth was likely to be delayed by a month or two. The fifth centre had sustained more extensive damage and it was not known when it would reopen. Growth sector

Main Event has been identified by Ardent as the growth sector of the business.

“We have a portfolio of 38 centres across 14 North American states, which is just scratching the surface. But Main Event is a significant business as it represents two-thirds of our earnings. But at the moment, we are extremely committed to nursing the business through the recovery phase and supporting our staff and workers there,” Mr Kelly said.

He added that the next phase of growth in the US would be more “measured”.

“The long-term strategy for Ardent is the Main Event business in the US. But we ran it hard, probably too hard, and stretched ourselves thin in terms of capability and on-the-ground operations,” Mr Kelly said.

“We must be disciplined in the rollout to make sure we have the systems and operations in place in an optimal way.” Tough year

The hurricane caps off a tough year for Ardent, which also reported an audited full-year loss of $62.6 million on Thursday, compared with a $42.4 million profit for the 2016 year.

As reported earlier this month when its released its unaudited figures, the result was significantly impacted by the Dreamworld tragedy, where four people died on the Thunder River Rapids ride last October, and the park’s subsequent shutdown for 45 days.

The loss includes $94.9 million in charges relating to a property, plant and equipment write-down, a goodwill impairment and incident costs associated with the Dreamworld tragedy. Restoring value

Mr Kelly said the result reflected the challenged trading environment experienced by Dreamworld following its re-opening, with its theme parks division reporting a core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation loss of $3.4 million, compared with a $34.7 million profit the previous year.

“Our focus is on nursing Dreamworld back to what it was a year ago and unlocking the surplus land at the park,” Mr Kelly said.

“We think it will take two years, but we are confident of restoring the value. I’m not sure how much the 2018 Commonwealth Games will impact the park with tourism, but it will certainly put the Gold Coast on the map.”

The negative impact of the Dreamworld tragedy was partially offset by a $45 million gain on the sale of its health club and marinas divisions. Shareholder battle

The latest blow from Hurricane Harvey comes as Ardent prepares to battle aggressive shareholder Ariadne on Monday in Sydney.

Ariadne, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the Ardent register, has called an extraordinary meeting in a bid to get its two directors, Gary Weiss and Brad Richmond, appointed to the Ardent board. Ariadne had initially wanted four appointments but has since wound back its claim to two.

It has been a long and, at times, bitter campaign and Ardent directors have advised shareholders to vote against all Ariadne’s resolutions.

Mr Kelly declined to comment on the meeting or any possible outcome.

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