By Janine Perrett

It's the tale of two retailers, perhaps three.

There was Gerry Harvey on Wednesday positively ebullient about the positive results for Gerry Harvey, which he attributed largely to the Turnbull effect and growing consumer confidence.

At the same time Dick Smith was announcing the opposite result for its retailer with the share price savaged 30% after a profit downgrade they blamed on the lack of customer confidence - in their company at least.

The difference might come down to two simple words. Private equity.

You will recall a few years ago, Woolworths couldn't give away their Dick Smith subsidiary. I'm not joking, the price tag was $20 million.

A private equity group Anchorage Capital eventually paid all up $100 million.

They did the usual private equity thing of slash and burn. Cutting costs, dressing it up as great management and then hyped it up to the market.

The market fell for it, valuing the company at $500 million only a year later when it floated. The smarties mocked Woolies for being incompetent and the great private equity types for "unlocking the value".

The private equity guys are geniuses goes the mantra.

Blah Blah Blah.

Heard it all before and know how it ends.

Yep. This week the company lost another 30 percent, down 58 percent this year and more than half what they were when floated.

And the private equity owners? Not their problem your worship, they exited last year before it all suddenly went pear-shaped.

Let me repeat that. Anchorage Capital sold out for $340 million last September. 

Geniuses indeed.

And this is not a unique phenomenon. Not even for an Australian retailer. Can anyone forget the great Myer debacle only a few years ago after they were bought by TPG. Certainly not the poor staff and customers who saw the company decimated in the name of cost efficiencies.

Certainly not the poor investors who bought the over-hyped, over valued shares.

Certainly not the private equity owners who took every single cent of the $2 billion profit out of the bank account for overseas homes within hours of their coup.

Maybe Woolies was right about the Dick Smith value all along and there is another word for the private equity geniuses. Or we are all gullible.

Let's hope "private equity" doesn't get its grubby mitts on beleagured Woolies itself given the shocker of a year it is having.

Then again they might deserve it. The rest of us certainly don't though.