L. J. Hooker
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (May 2012)|
|Founded||1928, Maroubra, New South Wales|
|Founder||Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker|
|Headquarters||Alexandria, New South Wales|
|Products||Franchising Real Estate solutions|
The company was established in 1928 by Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker in Maroubra, New South Wales. Leslie Joseph Hooker was born Leslie Joseph Tingyou to an Australian mother and a Chinese father. Later, when he became an adult, he changed his name to Leslie Joseph Hooker. According to his granddaughter, his Chinese father Harry Hookin arrived in Sydney as Hook Yin. Therefore, it is likely that his real name or born name could be Tingyou Yin.
In 1935 he opened the first city office of LJ Hooker at 12 O’Connell Street, Sydney. In 1936 the business expanded into Kensington, New South Wales, Kingsford, New South Wales and Randwick, New South Wales. By 1938 the company was in the position to purchase H.L. Cross & Co. and relocated to the heart of the city on the corner of Martin Place and Pitt Street. After the Depression and the Second World War, the company floated on the Australian Stock Exchange on 1 July 1947.
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.
In 1973, LJ Hooker was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his service to commerce and the community in Australia.
In 1980 the real estate division had spread across every state of Australia when they opened the first office in Perth, Western Australia.
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. 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 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, and in 2004 LJ Hooker opened offices in Mumbai, India and Shanghai, China.
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 November 2010, LJ Hooker acquired Harveys Real Estate Group in New Zealand.
LJ Hooker has also established an independent incorporated legal practice trading as LJ Hooker Conveyancing NSW 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. In Western Australia they use LJ Hooker Settlements to do their conveyancing.
2007 Victorian Stamp Duty Scandal
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. 
- Jenman, Neil (18 May 2007). Marvelli the Magician. 
- Harley, Robert (7 October 2004). One-stop shop key to future. Australian Financial Review.
- Herald Sun (4 August 2007). Home Buyers Sue Over Fees 
- Herald Sun (4 May 2007). Home Tax Row Threats 
- LJ Hooker (19 May 2014). Grant Harrod appointed LJ Hooker CEO