Wright Stephenson & Co Limited

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Wright Stephenson & Co Ltd had its origins in 1861 when John T Wright and Robert M Robertson set up business in partnership as merchants, stock and station agents and wool brokers under the name Wright Robertson & Co in Dunedin. In 1865, John Stephenson joined the partnership and when Robertson retired in 1868 business was carried on under the name Wright, Stephenson & Co. The company was involved in livestock and wool auctioning, grain and seed merchandising and land sales.

Wright Stephenson & Co opened its first branch in Gore in 1891 and floated as a public company in 1906, also opening the first overseas branch in London in that year. In 1908, the first North Island office was opened in Wellington. Expansion of the company by acquisition began in 1916, with the take over of W & G Turnbull & Co (est. 1857) in Wellington and W Gunson & Co in Auckland, Abraham & Williams Ltd in 1920.

In 1920 Wright Stephenson & Co opened fertiliser works in Auckland, making it one of the pioneers in the use of fertilisers. Another new business was begun in 1922 with the establishment of a stud stock and blood stock department, followed in 1927 by the beginning of trade in motor cars, the first diversification away from a purely stock and station business. The retailing of electrical appliances was added to the range of company activities in 1937.

In 1938 Wright Stephenson opened its first office in Australia.

Further additions were land development in 1945 and department stores in 1959, with the purchase of Wairarapa Farmers Co op Association. In 1962 the company's first major involvement with manufacturing came with the acquisition of Morrison Industries, producers of motor mowers and bicycles. The companies of Barclay Motors Ltd, Bottled Gas Ltd, Electric Refrigeration (NZ) Ltd, Otago Motors Ltd and D.W Virtue & CO Ltd also came part of the Group.

By 1971 Wright Stephenson had branches throughout New Zealand and was involved in a wide range of activities in addition to the stock and station business.

In January 1972 Wright Stephenson & Co Ltd and NMA Company of New Zealand Limited merged to form Challenge Corporation Ltd. Wrightson NMA Ltd became the main subsidiary.

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