Nobody Does it Better
|Founded||1928, Maroubra, New South Wales|
|Founder||Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker|
Number of locations
|Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, China and Hong Kong|
|Janusz Hooker (Chairman)|
|Products||Franchising real estate solutions|
|Owner||Each LJ Hooker office is independently owned and managed by its franchisees.|
Number of employees
LJ Hooker is one of Australia's largest real estate groups, with 730 franchise offices and 8,000 people engaged in residential and commercial property sales and property management. LJ Hooker was founded in 1928 by Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker and after a separation of 20 years the company returned to family hands in 2009.
- 1928: The first LJ Hooker office opens in Maroubra, New South Wales.
- 1936: LJ Hooker buys the real estate business and offices of Woods & Co. in Kensington and Kingsford.
- 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.
- 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.
- 1939: LJ Hooker establishes its headquarters in Pitt Street, Sydney by buying H. L. Cross & Co., a city agency.
- 1946: LJ Hooker buys the real estate business of Harold Bray Pty Ltd in Bondi Beach.
- 1946: LJ Hooker has the highest reported sales for the year breaking the record for a Sydney real estate agency.
- 1947: LJ Hooker floats on the Sydney Stock Exchange.
- 1948: LJ Hooker buys F. Egan & Son, a real estate agency in Bondi Junction.
- 1950: LJ Hooker opens its tenth office in Crows Nest, New South Wales.
- 1951: LJ Hooker opens its office in Manly, New South Wales by buying Thorn Coleman & Co.
- 1953: LJ Hooker is the largest real estate agency in Australia.
- 1955: Developments in Batemans Bay, Hogarah and the Gold Coast commence through Hooker Rex Pty Ltd.
- 1958: The company's name changes to L. J. Hooker Investment Corporation Ltd.
- 1960: LJ Hooker is Australia's first national real estate agency network by the end of the year.
- 1961: Hooker Projects commences to develop home units, nursing homes, motels, shopping centres, show rooms, warehouses and factories.
- 1963: Hooker House opens in Sydney.
- 1968: The company's name changes to Hooker Corporation Ltd.
- 1970: LJ Hooker residential and commercial divisions are the largest sales and management agents and the largest home developers in Australia.
- 1976: Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker dies.
- 1985: George Herscu buys the Hooker Group for $450 million.
- 1989: LJ Hooker Corporation collapses, owing $1.77 billion.
- 1989: Suncorp Metway buys LJ Hooker Corporation.
- 2009: A consortium of private buyers led by Janusz Hooker, grandson of the founder Sir Leslie Hooker, buys LJ Hooker Corporation from Suncorp-Metway for $67 million.
- 2015: Janusz Hooker with a handful of existing shareholders buyout the minority shareholders to consolidate the ownership of the company.
The first LJ Hooker office was opened in Maroubra, New South Wales in 1928. 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. 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. 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. By 1965 Hooker Rex had 51 developed estates in four Australian states.
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. 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.
Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker died in 1976 and ten years later the company and the family separated, which continued until 2009 when Janusz Hooker, Sir Leslie's grandson, formed a consortium and bought the company back.
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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 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 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.
The LJ Hooker company was liquidated in the late 1980s, but the name continued through the franchise arrangement that continues.
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, and in 2004 LJ Hooker opened offices in Mumbai, India, and Shanghai.
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 2009, the company returned to the family by a consortium of private investors led by Sir Leslie’ grandson, LJ Hooker Chairman, Janusz Hooker, and, in July 2015 he bought out the investors to take full control of the group.
In November 2010, LJ Hooker acquired Harveys Real Estate Group in New Zealand.
LJ Hooker is a franchise operation. The real estate side of the business is done by franchise owners. Grant Harrod was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in 2014. The company chairman is Janusz Hooker.
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 it uses LJ Hooker Settlements to do their conveyancing.
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