Godfreys co-founder John Johnston passes away at 100

Written on the 3 December 2018 by Business News Australia

Godfreys co-founder John Johnston passes away at 100

John Johnston was described as a "driving force" behind the company's growth to become a national retail chain. 

The centenarian owner of vacuum cleaner retailer Godfreys passed away last week, around five months after he and his family took back ownership of the group he co-founded almost eight decades ago.

Godfreys chief executive officer John Hardy said the passing of John Johnston on Thursday was a very sad day for the company, which currently has more than 220 stores across Australia and New Zealand and employs around 460 people.

"Mr Johnston has been actively involved in Godfreys since he joined Godfrey Cohen, as a Partner in 1936 when they had one store in Melbourne," Hardy said.

"Mr Johnston moved to Adelaide shortly afterwards and was the driving force behind the company's growth into a national retail chain.

"He retained a close relationship with the company and this year led the action to buy back the company to ensure its long-term survival."

In July, within weeks of Godfreys' de-listing from the Australian Stock Exchange, Johnston officially opened a new store in the Adelaide Arcade, just metres from where he opened the first Godfreys outlet in Adelaide in 1939.

Hardy said ownership of Godfreys would remain with the family and the company would continue to operate as normal.

"Mr Johnston was an outstanding businessman with an incredible vision, unrelenting drive and with an eye for the future," Hardy said.

"One of the reasons he bought back Godfreys this year was because he could see a great long-term future for the business under private ownership."

Johnston was also a world-renowed big game fisherman. In 2002 he was inducted into the Florida-based International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame. He remains the only man to have caught four different species of fish each weighing over 1000 pounds.

Johnston is survived by his daughter Jane.

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