About our founders
David Fletcher Jones
David Fletcher Jones, was born
on 14 August 1895 in Golden Square, Bendigo. He
was the second son of Samuel Henry Jones, a miners
blacksmith (toolmaker) from Cornwall and Mahala
Johns from Bendigo. His mother died when he was
two. The family was Methodist in religion and
Labor in politics.
DFJ left Golden Square State School and
worked for 2 years in a Bendigo suction
house and for 3 years as a tomato grower
at Kangaroo Flat. On 15 July 1915, he enlisted
in the AIF, served in France, was repatriated
in 1917 and was granted a TPI pension in
1918 as a result of suffering from shell
shock. He worked as a door-to-door salesman
in Melbourne and later as a hawker in the
Western District and South East South Australia.
On 22 September 1922, DFJ married Rena Ellen Jones
whose family were fellow members of the
Golden Square Methodist Church. Rena, a
primary school teacher, provided him with
moral support and encouragement through
48 years of marriage and business ventures.
They had three children; Ralph, Lois (Mrs
Meurs) and David. Rena Jones died in 1970.
In 1924, after 2 years
on the road with trucks and marques Rena
and Fletcher decided to settle in Warrnambool.
FJ leased three adjoining shops in Liebig
Street. Selling Men’s and Boy’s
wear, Hosiery, and Linen and Manchester.
After initial severe financial difficulties
the business prospered and was transferred
to different locations in Liebig Street
throughout the 30’s. In 1924 he opened
a small tailoring workroom. By 1939 the
bespoke tailoring workroom was one of the
largest in provincial Victoria but the main
business was men’s apparel retailing.
During the 30’s he started making
ready to wear trousers as ‘fill in’
During WW2, in 1941, the firm
provided ready to wear trousers for the man on
the land at the request of the Department of Supply.
These were wholesaled through 123 retailers in
four States. As a result of these retailers being
reluctant to stock the multiple fittings required
for a successful RTW operation, FJ opened his
own shop in Collins Street Melbourne in 1946.
This venture was an outstanding success.
Fletcher Jones became a major
Warrnambool and District employer and played a
pioneering role by transforming his business into
a co-operative. He was influenced by a Japanese
Christian Socialist, Dr. Toyohiko Kagawa who was
a pioneer of consumers’ and farmers’
co-operatives, Fletcher Jones supported Kagawa’s
visit to Australia in 1935 and visited Japan in
In January 1947, FJ travelled
overseas to study clothing manufacturing machinery
and processes with particular attention to the
manufacture of ready to wear apparel (a new trend)
as opposed to bespoke tailored apparel. This trip
had considerable impact on the layout and equipment
installed at Pleasant Hill.
Fletcher Jones introduced the
latest European and American production methods
in his new factory built in the late 1940’s
on a former quarry site in east Warrnambool. The
factory in a landscaped garden setting at Pleasant
Hill became a tourist attraction.
Fletcher Jones and Staff Pty
Ltd was registered in December 1947 after the
staff co-operative was formed in 1944. The staff
held 53% of the shares in the early 1950’s
and over 70% by the 1970’s.
The firm expanded its product
range beyond trousers to women’s skirts
and slacks in 1956 after winning the contract
to outfit the Australian Olympic Team. The firm
was in the forefront of new ideas and technology,
including methods engineering, a textile testing
laboratory, computerised design and cutting systems.
In its heyday, the company employed 3000 people,
had four factories and over 50 retail stores throughout
every Australian State.
Fletcher Jones enjoyed a simple
lifestyle. He gave away most of his money, anonymously.
He was appointed O.B.E. in 1959 and was knighted
in 1974 for ‘his services to decentralisation
and the community’. He remained chairman
of the company until 1975 and died on 22 February
1977. He was buried in the Warrnambool Cemetery
on 24 February after a United Methodist service.