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TURNERS AND GROWERS LIMITED

Scroll down for photographs.

EARLY DAYS:
When Edward and Maude arrived in Auckland, they spent their first year in a cottage in Parnell. Edward opened a fruit and flower shop near the north-western end of Karagahape Road (Nos 74-76). The business prospered sufficiently for Edward to open a second shop next door.
(The Karangahape Ward Burgess Roll of 1890-91 lists as entry no. 499: Edward Turner, fruit saleman, owning two Wood Shops, value of each: Sixty-two pounds.)
The couple lived for some time in Howick and then later at the shops. Edward bought produce for his shops from markets in Queen Street.
Towards the end of 1890, he purchased some land at Huia on the Manukau Harbour, (refer the Huia Private Reserve) and they moved there.
Within about five years he found that he could not make a go of it there and he returned to the city to rent a retail fruit shop again in Karangahape Road, but this time on the northern side near the top of Pitt Street. The family stayed at Huia.

THE START OF TURNERS WHOLESALE PRODUCE BUSINESS:
About 1897 he expanded by moving into a brief partnership with two men, Cotterell and Fletcher, as fruit importers and auctioneers. This seems to be the start of the Turner wholesale produce business. He was still based in Karangahape Road, but later moved to a very small store off Queen Street where His Majesty's Theatre once stood. It had a pedestrian entrance from Queen Street and a cart-dock entrance from Durham Lane. He employed a casual worker and a full-time clerk.

About 1899, Edward moved his business to a building across the road from the Albert Street end of the original City Markets, near the present Aotea Square. From 1900 onwards, his four eldest sons gradually joined him in the business.

The original City Markets were constructed on land given by the Crown and with a bequest from a benevolent woman citizen. It was a cross-shaped wooden building resembling a glass-house and was originally named the Agricultural Hall.
The store that Edward Turner was using was close to the Albert Street arm of this building and when in 1902 the city council put the whole market area up for lease by public tender, Edward and three other auctioneers successfully bid to rent it for 700 pounds per year, free of rates.
By 1906 Edward renamed his firm E.Turner & Sons, showing the confidence that he had in the developing work of his sons. He however, remained the sole owner. Later, about 1910 he verbally gave the four sons working in the business a one-sixth interest in the firm, but as no dividends were paid, they did not really appreciate their father's generosity. In 1912, eldest son Ebenezer suggested that the four boys purchase the firm by way of a guaranteed payment to their parents for life. Thus, without a change of name, a change of ownership occurred. E Turner & Sons charged ahead in the face of fierce competition, but the building was falling down around their ears.

THE 1918 CITY MARKETS:
In 1917, after much discussion, the city contracted Fletchers to construct the new buildings in Customs Street, the first that they had built in Auckland. After some negotiations, E Turner & Sons were able to take the most important Customs Street frontage of the buildings, a particular feature of which was the ground floor built up to the level of the decks of the carts which delivered the produce.

On July 1st 1918 the business was registered as a private limited company. Its capital was 15,000 pounds with Eb, Phil and Harvey each having 4966 shares, and R R Dowden taking 102 shares as the likely company secretary. Eb took the chair from the second meeting (the first that he was able to attend).
In 1919 the company capital was increased to 20,000 pounds with Eb, Phil and Harvey taking 1034 each and Bert taking 1000.

On October 28, 1920, the company was registered as Turners and Growers Limited and became on January 25, 1921, a public company. Harvey Turner was managing director for 41 years and when he retired the company had 345 full and part-time employees. The company also developed many subsidiary companies throughout most of New Zealand. In 1946 Ray, who until then had been a Baptist minister, joined the staff. This was the last of all the brothers to join and now eight (Eb having died in 1940) brothers worked together. It was said that it was their ability to work together that made the firm so successful.

GROWTH, RELOCATION AND NEW OWNERSHIP:
In 1966 the buildings were extended to the "New Auckland City Markets" and then in 1993 the company moved to Mt Wellington.

In late 1994 the Guiness Peat Group purchased 42% of Turners and Growers Limited and in 1995 A I Gibbs became Board Chairman. Don Turner (3.4.1) continued as chief executive until February 2003. After that date, no Turners were left in the Management of the company.
The staff list in 1997, including Turners Auctions, totalled 922 persons.

(The history of the company is set out in the centennial publication "One Hundred I'm Bid" by K Stead, Kestrel Publishing, ISBN 0 473 04169 3)

Left:The Original City Markets and (right) Aerial view with Auckland Town Hall at top right.

Left: The 1918 Markets and (right) the same buildings in 1924 with the Turners & Growers name displayed.

Left: The 1966 New Markets building and (right) the buildings at Mt Wellington.

Fifteen family members in one firm!
Photograph taken in late 1962.
Seven brothers in the front row (Selwyn, Ernest, Arundel, Sir Harvey, Bertrum, Raymond, Frank - Ebenezer and Philip deceased),
Eight sons/nephews in the rear.
A photograph of Edward on the wall (left) looks on.

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