Sidney Baillieu ‘Bails’ Myer has passed away at the age of 96. The retail entrepreneur and philanthropist was an instrumental figure in the retail scene.
Sidney Baillieu (Bails) Myer was born on 11 January 1926. One of four children, he was the son of Sidney Myer – Patriarch of the Myer dynasty – and his wife, Merlyn Myer.
Taking the same route as his father, he played a major role in developing and expanding the largest Australian department store, then known as Myer Emporium. But before taking the helm of the retail scene, he served as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy during WWII.
After Sidney Myer’s death in 1934, the business was left to Sir Norman Myer (Sidney’s nephew) and Ken Myer (Sidney’s son). Sir Norman Myer died in 1956, which ultimately introduced Bails Myer as a major player in the retail scene.
In 1958, Bails Myer became a Trustee of the Sidney Myer Fund – a role he held until 2001. He was also the Chairman of the Fund from 1992 until 2001.
In 1960, Myer Emporium opened its first store expansion in Chadstone, which was a small shopping centre at the time. Between 1976 to 1986, he sat as Chairman of the Myer Emporium Limited.
Perhaps most famously, Bails Myer was a major player in the expansion of the Myer stores across Australia. In 1983, he oversaw the acquisition of Grace Brothers – an NSW department store chain – which then were transformed into Myer stores.
One of his major moves for the retailer was in 1985, when he led a $1.07 billion deal between GJ Coles & Coy and Myer Emprpoum, forming the Coles Myer Group. He held a role on the Coles Myer board until his retirement in 1994.
Aside from his extensive retail history, Bails Myer was also a philanthropist. His career spanned aged care, Australian-Asian relations, conservation, education, business, medical research, the arts and rural communities. He was also an executive member of the CSIRO and President of the Howard Florey Institute.
He was a Patron of Asialink and the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, as well as Trustee Emeritus for the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1990, Bails Myer was awarded an AC (Australian Companion) for his service to business and commerce, to government and to the community. He was also made an Honourary Doctor of Law from the University of Melbourne in 1993. He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and three children.
John King, the current CEO of Myer, shared his condolences for the loss. “We have lost a wonderful man. For generations, Bails Myer has been much loved and highly respected by everyone at Myer and beyond. He was ahead of his time, recognising the future of retail,” he said.
Similarly, Paul Zahra, the CEO of the ARA, shared his sympathies. “Mr Myer’s retail and community contribution has left a powerful legacy. Our thoughts are with the family,” he said.
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