History of Yates

Yates was founded by Arthur Yates, an Englishman who migrated to New Zealand in 1879 to escape the damp weather of his native Manchester. The seed business that Arthur opened in Auckland in 1883 was the beginning of what was to become one of the most recognised names in Australian and New Zealand gardening.

In 1886 Arthur visited Sydney, where he saw an opportunity to establish a similar enterprise. So in 1887 he left his brother, Ernest, to manage the New Zealand seed business and opened a branch in Sussex St, Sydney. In 1906 the two brothers came to an amicable agreement to separate the two companies and run them independently either side of the Tasman. This continued until the late 1980s when the two companies joined together again.

By 1893 Arthur had launched his seed packets for home gardeners. He prided himself on always selling the best quality seeds and ‘Yates Reliable Seeds’ became the company’s catchcry. As time passed Yates became more and more an integral part of the garden, selling a range of products that included fertilisers, sprays, pots, potting mix and tools as well as seeds. In 1895 Arthur saw the need for a publication that answered gardeners’ questions so he wrote the first Yates Garden Guide, a basic gardening book that is still published more than 110 years later.

Yates has established itself as an integral part of Australian and New Zealand gardening history, but much of the company’s success rests on its ability to adapt to changes in lifestyle and to continue meeting the needs of gardeners in each new generation.

Yates History Timeline

1879 Arthur Yates emigrated from United Kingdom to New Zealand
1883 Founded New Zealand company
1887 Opened in Australia
1895 Wrote Yates Garden Guide
1906 New Zealand and Australian companies separated
1906 Transferred to larger premises in Queen St, Auckland
1911 Transferred again to larger shop and warehouse in Albert St, Auckland
1921 First branch opened at Whangerei
1926 Death of Arthur Yates. Eldest son Harold became Managing Director
1945 Christchurch branch established
1958 Palmerston North branch established
1960 Wellington branch established
1964 Hamilton branch established
1985 Yates New Zealand purchased by Equiticorp New Zealand
1989 Yates New Zealand acquired by Australia following collapse of Equiticorp New Zealand
1987 Head office and national warehouse moved to Henderson Place, Onehunga
1993 Yates floated on Australian Stock Exchange
1995 Celebrated centenary of Yates NZ Garden Guide
1996 Sold Samuel Yates Ltd (UK) to Sakata Seed Europe
1998 Sale of Billy Peach Pet Business
1998 Acquisition of Watkins New Zealand Ltd
2001 Scheme of Arrangement with Norgard Clohessy Equity Limited. NCE changed its name to Yates Limited.
2002 Transferred to purpose-built property in Neilson, St Onehunga
2003 Sale of Yates Vegetable Seeds
2003 Yates Limited sold Yates Australia & New Zealand to Orica Australia Pty Ltd