From the ground up – Jaycar talks history and 30th birthdays

By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Founded by Gary Johnston in 1981, Jaycar is a classic Australian retail success story. Starting small, the company grew to over 70 stores and a team of over 1000 staff members, and it is still Australian owned.

After the launch of a new store in Sydney’s Castle Hill, marketing manager for Jaycar, Murray Roberts, had a chat to Current.com.au about the growth of the business and their 30th anniversary.

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The Jaycar Castle Hill store that opened on Saturday June 25 was the 73rd Jaycar store to open its doors in Australia, and Roberts said the day was a complete success.

“It was excellent,” said Roberts. “They even had customers coming in to purchase things while they were setting the store up, which is always a good sign. It’s all fully operational now and the numbers are ticking through already. So it’s all running as planned.”

2011 is set to be a big year, with the company celebrating three decades of history, so there are plenty of plans in the pipeline.

“The official birthday celebration is in November,” said Roberts. While the big event is still under wraps, Jaycar is working on “some smaller giveaways to hand out to people who come into store” including birthday-branded merchandise like stubby holders right up to gadgets for consumers.

And the Castle Hill store won’t be the only shopfront that Jaycar adds to its chain in this special year.

“We’ve also got another store opening up in a few weeks in Kew, in Melbourne, which will bring Jaycar up to 74 stores. And by August we’ll have one in Joondalup, Western Australia, as well. So it’s full steam ahead.

“There are plenty of other stores to be opened for the rest of the year. And we’re relocating other stores to try and get bigger real estate so we can get our products into them. We’ve got all the smaller stores which are bursting at the seams!”

From the sounds of things, business is booming – and Roberts agrees. “Growth is amazing,” he said.

Since Dick Smith, Jaycar’s primary competition for many years, moved away from specialist electronics and went into a more mainstream offering, Roberts said the company had found greater success.

“We’re really trying to appeal to the DIY enthusiast,” he said. “We want to be the destination store to go and get all those components, which Dick Smith no longer have. So we’ve got our own nice little niche now.”

Looking into the future, he said the plan is to open more stores across Australia and New Zealand and to continue the company’s growth.

After 14 years working at Jaycar, Roberts is still loving his work and has a few products that he secretly loves.

“I’m an electronics enthusiast and I like my gadgets. At Jaycar there are plenty of gadgets coming in all the time, so it’s nice and dynamic in that way. I’m still a fan of our electronic kit projects, where you build something up from scratch. You get the soldering iron out and you build it up and see it working. It’s really from the ground up.”

Just like the company itself.
 

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