LJ Hooker

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LJ Hooker
Proprietary
Industry Real Estate
Founded 1928, Maroubra, New South Wales
Founder Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker
Headquarters Alexandria, New South Wales
Area served
Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, China and Hong Kong
Key people
Products Franchising Real Estate solutions
Services
Owner Each LJ Hooker office is independently owned and managed by its franchisees
Number of employees
8000
Website www.ljhooker.com.au

LJ Hooker is an Australian Real Estate company with an extensive franchise network across Australia.[1] LJ Hooker was founded in 1928 by Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker and after a separation of some 20 years the company returned to family hands in 2009.[2] [3]

History[edit]

The first LJ Hooker office was opened in Marboura, New South Wales in 1928.[4] Following the Depression the company expanded and opened offices in Sydney, Kensington, Kingsford and Randwick. In 1947 the company was floated on the Sydney Stock Exchange.[5] In 1949 the company expanded into hotel brokerage. In 1950 the tenth office was opened in Crows Nest and in 1951 the Manly office was opened. LJ Hooker’s expansion continued and by 1953 the agency was the largest real estate agency in Australia.[6] In 1955 Hooker Rex was established for the development of new homes. In 1959 the Hooker Finance company was established. In the same year the first real estate investment trust in Australia was established.[7] By 1965 Hooker Rex had 51 developed estates in four Australian states. [8]

LJ Hooker Investment Corporation Limited was formed in 1958 to allow LJ Hooker to deal with a more diverse range of real estate areas including hotel and leisure, music, land and building trusts, pastoral holdings and housing and land subdivision. In 1958 Hooker bought Festival Records from its original owners, the merchant bank Mainguard, and he even established his own boutique label, Rex, (named after his Sydney hotel) as a Festival subsidiary. But Festival was losing money during this period, just prior to the beginning of the Sixties pop boom, and Hooker eventually sold the struggling label to News Limited in 1961.[9]

In 1973, Mr. LJ Hooker was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his service to commerce and the community in Australia.[10]

In 1980 the real estate division had spread across every state of Australia when they opened the first office in Perth, Western Australia.

International expansion[edit]

In the mid-1980s, while led briefly by CEO George Herscu, LJ Hooker crossed into development and acquisition of retailers and large scale shopping complexes in the United States.[9] This move proved ill-conceived, with such questionable ventures as the purchase and operation of several storied but troubled American department store chains as B. Altman & Co., Bonwit Teller, Sakowitz and Parisian stores, to be utilized as anchors for a number of large, but poorly located shopping malls in the United States. Having no track record in understanding the complex operations required to run retail department stores, and with the questionable locations of many of the proposed malls, coupled with forcing the newly acquired anchor stores into locations with no previous market presence, this venture proved deeply flawed and plunged L.J.Hooker, the department stores and its various development holdings into bankruptcy.

Most of the department store chains were liquidated with large economic and employment losses. The one mall complex that was constructed during Herscu's tenure, the Forest Fair Mall in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, went through numerous changes in ownership and operations. Today the ill-fated mall is still struggling, having gone through two name changes. This period, although brief in its history, was deeply tumultuous and troubling and led to LJ Hooker Limited being purchased by the Queensland based Suncorp-Metway Limited, in January 1990.

In 1997 they opened offices in Hong Kong[11] and Papua New Guinea.[12]

Acquisition[edit]

In 1996 LJ Hooker purchased the Challenge Realty Group in New Zealand and in 1998 they rebranded them literally overnight as LJ Hooker. In 2003 LJ Hooker purchased the real estate franchise group Olsen & Everson. In 2002 LJ Hooker opened its first offices in Indonesia,[12] and in 2004 LJ Hooker opened offices in Mumbai,[12] India,[12] and Shanghai.[12]

In October 2004, Grahame Cooke stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Warren McCarthy. McCarthy was selected from within the existing LJ Hooker network and in The Australian Financial Review, he stated that "It was important that the chief executive be an LJ Hooker person. There is an inherent culture. It is very much a family and there is passing on of generations of knowledge in auctions, good property management and good referral systems."

In October 2009 Suncorp confirmed it sold its LJ Hooker real estate chain business to Janusz Hooker[13] – the grandson of founder Sir Leslie Hooker – for $67 million.[14]

In 2009, the company returned to the family by a consortium of private investors led by Sir Leslie’ grandson, LJ Hooker Chairman, L Janusz Hooker, and, in July 2015 he bought out the investors to take full control of the group.[15]

In November 2010, LJ Hooker acquired Harveys Real Estate Group in New Zealand.[12]

Organization[edit]

LJ Hooker is a franchise operation.[16] The real estate side of the business is done by franchise owners. The current Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director is Grant Harrod.[16] and Chairman, L Janusz Hooker.

Hooker Corporation Limited[17] is the holding company, and LJ Hooker Limited is the trading entity. Hooker Corporation Limited's ACN is 003 890 444 and the ACN of L.J. Hooker Limited is 003 890 4553.

Subsidiaries[edit]

LJ Hooker has also established an independent incorporated legal practice trading as LJ Hooker Conveyancing NSW[18] which is a division of Guardian Conveyancers Pty Ltd (ACN 136 790 022). The business is independently owned and operated under licence from LJ Hooker Limited. LJ Hooker Conveyancing is located in Sydney.[19] In Western Australia they use LJ Hooker Settlements to do their conveyancing.

2007 Victorian Stamp Duty Scandal[edit]

One of the franchise offices of LJ Hooker in Hampton Park, a suburb of Melbourne, is currently involved in a class action that has been taken out by over 200 former customers, who allege that the previous owner of the branch (which is now owned by the previous owner's wife) backdated sale contracts which has landed the customers with over $1.3 million in additional stamp duty charges. The matter is currently before the Federal Court of Australia and list LJ Hooker Corporation as one of the defendants, along with the former owner of the franchise. The Victorian Department of Justice (Consumer Affairs) is also investigating the actions of the parties involved.[1][2][3]

References[edit]

Works cited

External links[edit]