McEwan's Limited

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

McEwan's Limited

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Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

c. 1850 - 1982


In the early 1850s James McEwan and John Houston, recent emigrants to Australia from Great Britain, began trading at 79 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, supplying goods to storekeepers on the Victorian goldfields. Other premises were leased at 171 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne and in Geelong. In 1855 the partnership between Houston and McEwan was dissolved and James McEwan established a wholesale and retail ironmongery business, his suppliers being William Kerr Thomson and Samuel Renwick in England. When Mr McEwan died suddenly, in 1868, whilst holidaying in the south of France, Messrs Thomson and Renwick carried on the business under the name of ‘James McEwan & Company Limited’. In 1870 a new four-storey store was opened on the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets, Melbourne. James McEwan & Company Limited traded as a private company until 1887 when it was incorporated as a public company and floated on the London Stock Exchange. Following the deaths of both Renwick, in 1888, and Thomson, in 1893, James McEwan & Company Limited suffered severe financial hardship. The London Bank of Australia acquired the Company in 1905. Then, in 1910, the London Bank of Australia sold James McEwan & Company Pty Ltd to Hon. Thomas Luxton and his sons, Thomas James and Harold Daniel, who, together with Kenneth Clark and J Rippin, were also shareholders of McLean Brothers and Rigg Pty Ltd. James McEwan & Company and McLean Brothers and Rigg Pty Ltd were amalgamated in 1910. McEwan’s Limited was formed in 1927 to acquire the shares of James McEwan & Company Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries. The Directors of McEwan’s Limited were Sir Harold Daniel Luxton (Chairman), Thomas James Luxton, FP Derham, Thomas Luxton Jnr and NF Coles. In 1951 McEwan’s Limited was floated as a public company and listed on the Melbourne Stock Exchange. By 1965 McEwan’s had moved its main city store from the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets to Bourke Street, Melbourne. The Bourke Street store was operated by the principal subsidiary, James McEwan & Company Pty Ltd. Around this time other McEwan’s stores were established in the suburbs of Melbourne - Camberwell (1966), Clayton (1961), Croydon (1964), Dandenong (1964), Footscray (1966), Frankston (1970), Geelong (1966), Moonee Ponds (1963), Niddrie (1973) and Sunshine (1974) - as well as in Victorian regional shopping centres at Brandon Park (1970), Chadstone (1960), Doncaster Shopping Town (1969), Forest Hill (1964), Northland (1966), Southland (1968) and High Point West (1975). In 1970 the first of McEwan’s ‘Magnet’ discount hardware and timber stores was opened on a four-acre site in the outer Melbourne suburb of Ferntree Gully. This store was a pilot for a proposed chain of discount stores. In 1972 a second Magnet store was opened in Thomastown, also on the outskirts of Melbourne with additional stores being established at Eltham, Parkmore Shopping Centre and Corio. ‘Magnet’ stores sold a limited range of traditional McEwan’s merchandise plus other goods which McEwan’s stores did not carry. Other than Parkmore and Eltham, each centre also included a nursery and garden centre which opened on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Through McEwan’s (Mildura) Pty Ltd the company operated two stores in Mildura and one at Red Cliffs in the north-west of Victoria. In Queensland the subsidiary, Williams McEwan’s Pty Ltd, had stores at Burleigh Heads and Southport. Another subsidiary, Brittains McEwan’s Pty Ltd (acquired in 1969), operated three stores in Brisbane. McEwan’s had now become one of the largest merchants of its kind, specialising in hardware and builders’ supplies. It had 23 stores in Victoria, 5 in Queensland and 2 in the Australian Capital Territory. In 1979 Repco Limited acquired 31.28% of McEwan’s Limited’s ordinary shares and in 1980 McEwan’s and Magnet Stores combined to trade as a single entity – McEwan’s. By 1980 the operating subsidiaries of McEwan’s Limited were - James McEwan & Company Pty Ltd, McEwan’s (Mildura) Pty Ltd, McEwan’s Queensland Pty Ltd, Three Eight Seven Pty Ltd, Brittains McEwan’s Pty Ltd and Neton Products Pty Ltd. Following a successful takeover bid by Repco Limited, McEwan’s Limited was delisted from the Stock Exchange on 28 July 1982.


Victoria, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

timber and hardware wholesaling

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Internal structures/genealogy

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Created by Sarah Lethbridge on 24 August 2011.




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