A Brief History of Janome Australia


Janome Australia was incorporated in NSW on November, 1969 and soon after set up the first State and Head Office in Sydney at 10 Martin Place under the guidance of our first Managing Director Mr Charlie Yamamoto and his Sales Manager Mr Graham Hodgeson. In 1971, the head office was moved to Melbourne at 42 Levanswell Road, Moorabbin.

In the early years while Janome was establishing itself in Victoria the other States were very well looked after by our agents being:

New South Wales – Cameo Machining Co

Queensland – Walters Import

South Australia – W D Taylor

Western Australia – Max Shaw

During the 1960’s and 1970’s particularly in Melbourne, Myer had a huge influence both as a shop window as well as a sales outlet.  Graham Hodgeson did a good job in obtaining a presence for Janome in Myer, both under our own brand as well as supplying Myer Victor models.  As a company this ensured we were on our way.

At this stage the sewing machine market in Australia was dominated by the European brands particularly Elna and Bernina.  There were several importers of Japanese machines in the market but they were mainly interested in importing product to sell through mass merchandisers.  Janome was the only company to look how the European brands were doing things and follow suit but trying to do better.

In the early years Janome employed two sales representatives, Mr Brian de Vaus and Mr Colin Brooks who really did a good job gaining extra exposure in specialist retailer stores as a support to the European brands.

To assist Janome gain attention with retailers we took on the agency for Passap Knitting Machines which was a precision top end Swiss made knitting machine which sold very well at the time.  Having that extra product to sell proved an excellent introduction to gaining acceptance in dealer stores.

Our founding fathers worked hard to identify what was required to be successful with specialty retailers and that was a ready supply of stock plus a ready supply of spare parts and accessories at affordable prices.  This formula worked really well and gave Janome a real presence in the market place as well as providing the profit for the company to move to the next phase of an expansion program.

During 1974 Janome opened their own office in New South Wales with Colin Brooks as State Manager.  Colin spent a lot of time visiting all the specialist retailers to ascertain who the best were before approaching them to become Janome retailers.  This format worked well and 2 years later Colin moved to Brisbane to do the same job, once again very successfully.

In 1978 Colin returned to Head Office in Melbourne as National Sales Manager and later Sales Director and took over the expansion of Janome in the market place.  Perhaps the introduction of the model XLII was the time when everybody realized that Janome “quality” was as good as or better than the European brands.

Also under Colin’s guidance we took our product to the people with extensive television promotions.  Janome also featured as prizes on top rating game shows on television.  We were also innovative being the first company to provide a free instructional video tape with our sewing machines which was revolutionary at the time.

Over the years we have had many Managing Directors with Akira Suzuki, Sam Aiko, Roy Kambe, Nobby Koseki, Kenji Wada, Yasu Kozu, Masashi Kawashima, Minoru Tokunaga, Toshi Takayasu, Shinichi Ohashi & presently JoJo Yamada.  All of these gentlemen have had some input into the success of Janome Australia.

Today, Janome Australia has a unique position in our industry with support from all the best specialist retailers and selling more product than all of our competitors put together.  Also for a company with relatively small staff numbers we have a lot of staff members that have worked with the company for many years which must be an asset.

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