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Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The legacy of Dick Smith and his electronics business

Born in 1944, Richard Harold Smith went on to become a famous Australian entrepreneur who founded the Dick Smith electronics store chain. He was voted the Australian of the Year in 1986, and he has been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia.

Smith had talked a lot about the fact he was hopeless when it came to academics and consistently ranked among the lowest in his classes. His first professional work was as a taxi radio repair technician.

Apart from his electronics business, Smith is most well-known for his achievements in aviation and holds many records. This includes the first non-stop balloon crossing of Australia as well as the first helicopter ride to the North Pole.

His electronics business began in 1968 where he initially repaired car radios, but the business expanded later to sell radios and then personal computers. It became known as Dick Smith Electronics in the mid-1970s and was crossing around $17 million AUD a year.

He sold the business in 1980 the Woolworths group and had no involvement or investment in the company after 1982. However, Smith’s name and face were featured prominently in the store’s branding, and many believed he was still in charge because of that.

In this way, Dick Smith became Australia’s iconic electronics retailer for an entire generation. Many people cite fond memories of going to Dick Smith to buy printers and other computer accessories.

Under Woolworths management, Dick Smith sales reached around $1.4 billion AUD and then faced a steep decline after 2014. The brand was eventually acquired by Kogan and is now an only-only retailer of electronics and other goods.

Overall, Dick Smith is an iconic part of Australian culture and how people see the retail technology industry in this country.

Milla Haines
Milla Haines
Milla Haines is an award-winning journalist and true finance author with 10 years' experience in covering international and nation events. She has worked as a foreign correspondent in the US, South East Asia and Europe, and now specialises in market and technology.

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