Australian Retailer Sidney Baillieu Myer Dies, Aged 96

The son of Sidney Myer — patriarch of the Myer department store dynasty — he followed in his father’s footsteps and was an instrumental figure in developing the Australian retail landscape.

Myer is a household name in Australia, where the mid-range to upscale chain is Australia’s leading department store operator. After several years of closing unproductive locations, its national network currently stands at 59 department stores.

Sidney Myer opened the first Myer store in Bendigo in 1900 after migrating from Russia to Melbourne. After his death in 1934, the business was left to his nephew Sir Norman Myer and son Ken Myer.

In 1956, Sidney Baillieu “Bails” Myer took the reins and quickly became a key player in Australian retail.

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After opening the Myer Emporium in Melbourne’s Chadstone shopping centre in 1960, he led an aggressive expansion of Myer department stores across Australia.

In 1983, Sidney Baillieu Myer oversaw the acquisition of Grace Brothers — a rival department store chain — which he then rebranded and transformed into Myer stores.

Another major move for the retailer was the 1985 $1.07 AUD billion ($763 million at current exchange) deal between GJ Coles & Coy and Myer Emporium, forming the Coles Myer Group.

Between 1976 to 1986, Sidney Baillieu Myer was Chairman of Myer Emporium Limited and he was on the Coles Myer board until his retirement in 1994.

“Mr Myer’s retail and community contribution has left a powerful legacy,” Australian Retail Association CEO Paul Zahra told Power Retail.

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Sidney Baillieu Myer was also a philanthropist whose activities spanned aged care, Australian-Asian relations, conservation, education, business, medical research, the arts and rural communities.

“For generations, Bails Myer has been much loved and highly respected by everyone at Myer and beyond,” Myer chief executive, John King, told Power Retail. “He was ahead of his time, recognising the future of retail.”

Sidney Baillieu Myer is survived by his wife, Sarah, and three children.

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