Godfreys owner John Johnston dies aged 100

Godfreys owner John Johnston has died aged 100, just months after he bought back the vacuum cleaner retailer he first joined in 1936.

Mr Johnston died on Thursday, Godfreys said in a statement.

A founding partner in the chain, Mr Johnston had turned 100 in July, weeks after he and his family completed the takeover of then ASX-listed Godfreys and returned it to private ownership.

“Mr Johnston was an outstanding businessman with an incredible vision, unrelenting drive and with an eye for the future,” Godfreys chief executive John Hardy said on Friday.

“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.”

Mr Hardy said Mr Johnston, who became Godfrey Cohen’s business partner in 1936, had been the driving force behind Godfrey’s expansion from a single Melbourne store to a chain that still boasts more than 220 stores in Australia and New Zealand.

Since being listed by private equity in 2014 at $2.75 per share, Godfreys had been plagued by falling sales, multiple changes of senior management, and a sustained slide in share price to an all-time low of 21 cents in April.

Mr Johnson subsequently bought the company for $13.7 million through his family-owned Arcade Finance.

In October, Mr Johnston officially opened a new store in the Adelaide Arcade, just metres from where he opened the first Godfreys outlet in Adelaide in 1939.

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