wallacebishop
wallacebishop

Revealed: Big names make Business Leaders Hall of Fame

VETERAN jeweller Wallace Bishop says today's retail environment is the worst the 102-year-old firm has ever experienced.

Mr Bishop Junior, the grandson of the firm's founder Wallace Bishop Senior, said retailers were doing it increasingly tough as the tight economy meant people had less money to spend

"Today's climate is very difficult for us," said the 84-year old who remains chairman of the iconic Queensland business. "People are looking after their money and are looking for value. This is probably the toughest period we have gone through."

Despite the challenges, Mr Bishop is upbeat about the future, a view reinforced on Wednesday night when the company was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame. Past inductees have included the Wagner family, Golden Circle and The Courier-Mail.

"We are a fifth-generation, family owned firm and are going to be around for a long time," said Mr Bishop before the hall of fame award ceremony. "There is a big future for us and we are honoured to receive this award."

 

Wallace Bishop Jewellers chairman Wallace Bishop. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Wallace Bishop Jewellers chairman Wallace Bishop. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

 

Now boasting more than 50 stores and 500 employees, the company had humble origins in the early 20th century when Mr Bishop's grandfather Wallace Senior and his wife May arrived in Australia from Birmingham.

After initially working as a diamond ring maker with a jeweller in Queen St, Mr Bishop started his own manufacturing factory in Elizabeth St.

Mr Bishop's father Carl joined the firm in 1917 as an apprentice jeweller and later introduced the Loyal watch, a brand the company still sells today. In the 1920s, the firm moved to more prominent premises on the corner of Adelaide and Albert St.

Mr Bishop, who joined the business in the 1950s when it only had two stores located in Brisbane's CBD, said the arrival of big suburban shopping centres in the 1960 fuelled the company's growth. "We stared in Toombul and then others opened at Mt Gravatt and Pacific Fair," he said.

Other inductees into the hall of fame last night included Springfield City Group, art dealer Philip Bacon, cinematic company Birch Carroll and Coyle, Evans Deakin Industries and mining entrepreneur Sir George Fisher (1903-2007).

Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame is sponsored by QUT Business School, State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Library Foundation and The Courier-Mail.

SPRINGFIELD CITY GROUP

Starting with an investment of $30,000 in 1992, Maha Sinnathamby and Bob Sharpless built Australia's first privately constructed city on 3000 hectares of land near Ipswich.

 

Springfield City Group’s Maha Sinnathamby.
Springfield City Group’s Maha Sinnathamby.

 

To date, $17 billion has been invested in the project which houses 41,000 residents, 11 schools, a hospital, town centre and 16,000 workers. A rail line and an extension of the Centenary Highway now link Springfield to the rest of south-east Queensland.

PHILIP BACON

After opening his first gallery in 1974 in Fortitude Valley, Philip Bacon went on to become Australia's leading art dealer and a major philanthropist. Over the decades, Mr Bacon has hosted shows by Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman and Arthur Boyd.

Mr Bacon has weathered many storms including the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 that wiped out many young collectors.

SIR GEORGE FISHER

Sir George Fisher, who led Mount Isa Mines (MIM) during its period of rapid expansion has been credited with starting Australia's mining boom. The first president of the Australian Mining Industry Council, he instigated low-interest loans that allowed miners to buy their own homes in Mt Isa.

BIRCH CARROLL AND COYLE

Founded in 1924 by Edward and Dan Carroll, George Birch and Virgil Coyle, Birch Carroll and Coyle was the operator of Brisbane's Wintergarden Theatre and the art deco Picture Palaces throughout regional Queensland. The company, which also ran ice rinks, became synonymous with screening Australian films including For the Term of his Natural Life and Dad and Dave.

 

EVANS DEAKIN INDUSTRIES

 

Arthur Deakin, a marine engineer, and Daniel Evans, a ship's purser, founded a workshop on the site of today's Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in 1913. The company went on to become a major force in heavy engineering, construction and shipbuilding. The company was part of the joint consortium with Hornibrook Constructions in the building of the Story Bridge in 1940.