Farmers - Your Department Store for the latest trends and styles in fashion, beauty and homeware. Farmers began as a modest mail-order business set up by Scottish immigrant Robert Laidlaw in 1909 on October 1 - their first purchase being a roll of wire netting. It catered at first for rural communities which is a world away from the make-up, fashion, toys and furniture now stocked.
The company has survived two world wars, the arrival of the computer age, changing retail patterns and the rise and fall of world stock markets. Following World War 1, Laidlaw Leeds merged with the Farmers Union Trading Company, a farming cooperative, and cemented its name in New Zealand's history.
Farmers was the first mail order business in New Zealand when it started, it had the first Santa parade, it had the first free carpark for customers in Australasia, it was the first to introduce hire purchase shopping in New Zealand, and it was one of the first stores to go into self-service, instead of full service shopping. In 1986, Farmers was taken over by investment company Chase Corporation and six years later, was bought by Deka, with the Maori Development Corporation and Australia's Foodland.
The business was returned to New Zealand ownership in 2003 when Anne and David Norman, the owners of Pascoes, bought it. Farmers is now a chain of 58 stores across the country, employing over 4,000 people. Under the care of its new owners and management Farmers has been repositioned into a vibrant, modern retailer focusing on leading brands for fashion, beauty and homewares.