GRAND OLD LADY OF RETAILING TURNS 90
Treasured national icon, the Farmers' Trading Company Limited today celebrates its 90th birthday.
In October 1909, founder Robert Laidlaw opened his successful catalogue mail order company, Laidlaw Leeds, trading from
small premises in Auckland's Fort Street. He eventually sold this business to the Farmers' Union Trading Company and
took over as General Manager.
His business acumen and vision served the company well. In 1921 he opened the `big store' in Hobson Street which
remained Farmers flagship until 1992. And, in one of New Zealand's earliest entrepreneurial moves, Robert Laidlaw
established a free bus service to carry customers up the big hill from Queen Street to Hobson Street. By the early
1920s, Farmers stores served almost every rural community in the upper North Island.
Many New Zealanders have fond memories of the Hobson Street rooftop children's playground, Hector the Parrot and the
excitement generated each year by the Farmers Santa Parade. An ever-improving Farmers Santa Parade still continues to
delight hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders every year.
Farmers Managing Director, Wayne Walden today paid tribute to the company's proud heritage.
"Farmers has always been more than merely a retailer. Over the past 90 years, our stores have played a vital role in the
lives of many New Zealanders, particularly in the small rural districts they originally served.
"While times have changed, Farmers remains committed to the principles upon which our company was founded. Quality
merchandise, fair pricing, family values and innovation are still the cornerstones of our business. I believe they will
continue to serve Farmers well for the next 90 years," Mr Walden said.
To celebrate 90 years of retailing history, Farmers has many sales and promotional activities planned including a
nationwide search for New Zealanders' favourite, funniest or most nostalgic Farmers memory. Farmers Marketing and
Advertising Manager, Dean Cook hopes to uncover plenty of colourful tales.
"It seems particularly appropriate as we embrace a new millennium to pay tribute to our heritage. Our customers, many of
whom have shopped with Farmers for decades, will assist us in that tribute. We look forward to their reminiscences which
will provide valuable insight into our history and traditions. Who knows, we may even discover our longest serving
customer!" Mr Cook said.