LJ Hooker

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LJ Hooker
IndustryReal estate
Founded1928; 91 years ago (1928), Maroubra, New South Wales
FounderSir Leslie Joseph Hooker
Number of locations
730 (2018)
Area served
Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, China and Hong Kong
Key people
Janusz Hooker (Chairman)
ProductsFranchising real estate solutions
OwnerEach LJ Hooker office is independently owned and managed by its franchisees.
Number of employees
8,000 (2018)
LJ Hooker in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 1941[1]
LJ Hooker logo 2015
LJ Hooker logo 1993
LJ Hooker logo 1969
LJ Hooker logo 1959
LJ Hooker logo 1953
LJ Hooker logo 1948
LJ Hooker logo 1937
Photograph of Hooker House Melbourne in 1972 taken by J H Halla and sourced from The State Library of Victoria
Hooker House, Melbourne. Taken by Rennie Ellis between 1980 and 2000.

LJ Hooker is one of Australia's largest real estate groups, with 600 franchise offices and 6,000 people engaged in residential and commercial property sales and property management.[2][3] The company was founded in 1928 by Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker and after being sold to a private company for 20 years, the company returned to family hands in 2009.[4][5]


The first LJ Hooker office was opened in Maroubra, 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.[4] 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.[4] By 1965 Hooker Rex had 51 developed estates in four Australian states.[6]

In 1963, Hooker House was opened in Sydney. Hooker Project offices were opened in Melbourne in 1966, Brisbane in 1967, Perth in 1968, and Townsville and Canberra in 1969.[6] Hooker Projects developed motels, shopping centres, nursing homes and factories. In 1969, Hooker Home Units was established which specialised in building home units and town houses. By 1970 LJ Hooker residential and commercial divisions were not only the largest sales and management agents in the country but also the largest home developers.[7]

Hooker died in 1976 and ten years later the company and the family separated, which continued until 2009 when Janusz Hooker, Hooker's grandson, formed a consortium and bought the company back.[8]

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. This move proved ill-conceived, with such 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 utilised 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 LJ 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 three 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.

LJ Hooker was liquidated in the late 1980s, but the name continued through the franchise arrangement that continues.[4] In 1997, it opened offices in Hong Kong[9] and Papua New Guinea.[10]


In 1996, LJ Hooker purchased the Challenge Realty Group in New Zealand and in 1998 they rebranded it 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,[10] and in 2004, LJ Hooker opened offices in Mumbai,[10] India,[10] and Shanghai.[10]

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."[11]

In October 2009, Suncorp confirmed it sold its LJ Hooker real estate chain business to Janusz Hooker,[12] the grandson of founder Sir Leslie Hooker, for $67 million.[13] In July 2015, he also bought out the investors to take full control of the group.[14]

In November 2010, LJ Hooker acquired Harveys Real Estate Group in New Zealand.[10]


Hooker Corporation Limited[15] 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. LJ Hooker is a franchise operation.[16] The real estate side of the business is done by franchise owners. Grant Harrod was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in 2014.[16] The company chairman is Janusz Hooker.[17]


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.[18] In Western Australia it uses LJ Hooker Settlements to do their conveyancing.[citation needed]


  • 1928: The first LJ Hooker office opens in Maroubra, New South Wales.[19]
  • 1936: LJ Hooker buys the real estate business and offices of Woods & Co. in Kensington and Kingsford.[6]
  • 1937: LJ Hooker has a network of five offices in New South Wales: (Marboura, Sydney, Kensington, Kingsford and Randwick) by the end of the year.[20]
  • 1938: Rex Investments is registered (and floated as a public company in 1948). Family companies and Rex Investments purchase suburban real-estate agencies and hotels in Sydney and country towns.[4]
  • 1939: LJ Hooker establishes its headquarters in Pitt Street, Sydney by buying H. L. Cross & Co., a city agency.[6][21]
  • 1946: LJ Hooker buys the real estate business of Harold Bray Pty Ltd in Bondi Beach.[6]
  • 1946: LJ Hooker has the highest reported sales for the year breaking the record for a Sydney real estate agency.[22]
  • 1947: LJ Hooker floats on the Sydney Stock Exchange.[4]
  • 1948: LJ Hooker buys F. Egan & Son, a real estate agency in Bondi Junction.[6]
  • 1950: LJ Hooker opens its tenth office in Crows Nest, New South Wales.[23]
  • 1951: LJ Hooker opens its office in Manly, New South Wales by buying Thorn Coleman & Co.[6][24]
  • 1953: LJ Hooker is the largest real estate agency in Australia.[25]
  • 1955: Developments in Batemans Bay, Hogarah and the Gold Coast commence through Hooker Rex Pty Ltd.[4]
  • 1958: The company's name changes to L. J. Hooker Investment Corporation Ltd.[4]
  • 1960: LJ Hooker is Australia's first national real estate agency network by the end of the year.[6]
  • 1961: Hooker Projects commences to develop home units, nursing homes, motels, shopping centres, show rooms, warehouses and factories.[26]
  • 1963: Hooker House opens in Sydney.[27]
  • 1968: The company's name changes to Hooker Corporation Ltd.[4]
  • 1970: LJ Hooker residential and commercial divisions are the largest sales and management agents and the largest home developers in Australia.[28]
  • 1976: Leslie Joseph Hooker dies.[4]
  • 1985: George Herscu buys the Hooker Group for $450 million.[29]
  • 1989: LJ Hooker Corporation collapses, owing $1.77 billion.[30]
  • 1989: Suncorp Metway buys LJ Hooker Corporation.[31]
  • 2009: A consortium of private buyers led by Janusz Hooker buys LJ Hooker Corporation from Suncorp-Metway for $67 million.[31]
  • 2015: Janusz Hooker with a handful of existing shareholders buyout the minority shareholders to consolidate the ownership of the company.[32]


  1. ^ "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald (32, 178). New South Wales, Australia. 14 February 1941. p. 14 (Finance and Commerce Annual Supplement). Retrieved 3 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ ABC Life Matters. “LJ Hooker, the man behind the brand”, ABC, 24 March 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  3. ^ The LJ Hooker Network https://www.ljhooker.com.au/about-us/the-lj-hooker-network
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Spearritt, Peter (1996). "Hooker, Sir Leslie Joseph (1903–1976)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  5. ^ Korporaal, Glenda (2011). “Piecing together the puzzle of LJ Hooker's heritage”, The Australian, 3 February 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hooker, N. LJ Hooker The Man, 2011.
  7. ^ http://about.ljhooker.com.au/about/history
  8. ^ "Hooker buys back family business". InvestSMART.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Harley, Robert (7 October 2004). One-stop shop key to future. Australian Financial Review.
  12. ^ http://about.ljhooker.com.au/about/heritage
  13. ^ http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,26214037-643,00.html
  14. ^ "Grandson Janusz takes full control of LJ Hooker". afr.com. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ a b "Grant Harrod appointed LJ Hooker CEO". ljhooker.com.au. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  17. ^ Ellem, Ryan (7 July 2017). "LJ Hooker shines at top industry awards". LJ Hooker. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 December 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ AAP. “Suncorp sells Hooker Corp to founder's grandson”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 15 October 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  20. ^ “All Agents Optimistic”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 1 January 1928. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  21. ^ “L J Hooker”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 15 February 1939. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  22. ^ “Sydney Estate Agents’ Big Year”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 28 December 1946. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  23. ^ “L. J. Hooker Limited”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 23 December 1950. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  24. ^ “L J Hooker Limited”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 10 October 1951. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  25. ^ “Records Reported In Sales This Year”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 18 December 1954. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  26. ^ “L. J. Hooker Forms New Division”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 14 October 1961. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  27. ^ “Head Office Opened By Premier”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 31 August 1963. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  28. ^ “LJ Hooker's Heritage, History and Brand”. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  29. ^ Allen, Lisa “Disgraced tycoon George Herscu dies at 85”, “The Australian”, 21 December 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  30. ^ Cummins, Carolyn “Disgraced developer George Herscu dies”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 20 December 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  31. ^ a b AAP. “Suncorp sells Hooker Corp to founder’s grandson”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 15 October 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  32. ^ “Grandson Janusz takes full control of LJ Hooker”, “The Australian Financial Review”, 10 July 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2017.