Waltons (department store)

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Waltons
Industry Retail
Founded 1951
Founder John Walton
Defunct 1987
Headquarters George Street, Sydney, Australia
Area served
New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia
Products Department store

Waltons was an Australian department store chain, founded by John Walton (1904–1998).[1]

History[edit]

Walton's slogan
Drawing of former Walton's flagship store on the corner of George & Park Streets, Sydney

Walton bought a menswear store in 1951, located on George Street, Sydney, opposite the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Town Hall and near Town Hall station. Over the years it was expanded along Park Street with adjoining properties purchased.[2]

In 1955, Walton formed an alliance with the American retail giant Sears & Roebuck.[3] In the early 1960s he started a finance company in partnership with Citibank, and also moved into insurance.[1][4][5] That part of the business was sold to Norwich Union in 1980.[6]

There were changes in the retail scene in Australia in the 1960s and Waltons Limited bought out Marcus Clark & Co in 1966,[7] and then Anthony Hordern & Sons, and merged its country store operation into the Walton's store group.[8] That excluded the Brickfield Hill store in the south of the Sydney central business district, which by 1969 had already closed. Waltons then acquired McDowells in 1972.[9] By 1972, the Waltons chain had expanded to 96 department stores before Walton retired as executive chairman. Sir John severed his ties with the company in 1976, and his son John took over.

Alan Bond bought Waltons in 1981, but the purchase became a financial disaster, with Bond losing $199 million in 1983. The Waltons department store name disappeared when Bond sold Waltons in 1987 (and closed its employee superannuation fund), to interests associated with the Cooke family.[10] The Cooke family re-branded the remaining stores as Venture and Norman Ross outlets. In 1994, Venture went bankrupt.[11]

The flagship Waltons department store on George Street, Sydney, was demolished, and employees and the media were informed that Bond Corporation intended to build Australia's tallest building, including a brand new Waltons store, on the same site. Due to the above-mentioned losses, that didn't happen. The piece of prime real estate remained nothing more than a huge hole in the ground for years. It was finally replaced by the Citibank office tower, which includes the Galeries Victoria retail space. The main Melbourne store, on Bourke Street, was remodelled into a Village Cinemas complex, which closed in 2006.

The Waltons store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, still has a Brunswick Street Mall store-front with "Waltons" signage, but with blacked-out door glass since the store closed around 1987. The street entrances or exits to the bottom level, which are occupied by Asian novelty product stores, still have the word "Walton" screwed into the wall, with the S possibly having been removed as a souvenir.

Store locations[edit]

Australian Capital Territory[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

Victoria[edit]

Nearly all these stores closed in 1983[12]

Queensland[edit]

South Australia[edit]

Miller Anderson Limited was acquired by Waltons Limited, as a result over its 1966 takeover of Marcus Clark & Co. Miller Anderson Limited had stores in the following locations:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Commerce – Sir John Walton
  2. ^ Waltons pays $2.1 million for store The Canberra Times 11 May 1971 page 18
  3. ^ Sears, Roebuck Buys Interest in Waltons The Argus 17 August 1955 page 11
  4. ^ Waltons Ins to expand The Canberra Times 20 February 1969 page 23
  5. ^ Bank to sell 50pc stake' The Canberra Times 10 August 1977 page 26
  6. ^ Sale of Waltons Insurance Co announced The Canberra Times 15 August 1980 page 17
  7. ^ Waltons makes success of Marcus Clark The Canberra Times 21 October 1967 page 16
  8. ^ Waltons wins contest for Hordens The Canberra Times 6 January 1970 page 12
  9. ^ "McDowells takeover". The Canberra Times. 15 February 1972. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  10. ^ Waltons deal gets Bond out of retailing The Canberra Times 19 February 1987 page 21
  11. ^ Bid to sell Venture as a retain chain The Canberra Times 11 March 1994 page 15
  12. ^ Retail tremors hit Bond The Canberra Times 23 February 1983 page 31