Hay, James Lawrence

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Sir James Lawrence Hay - OBE

Otago-born James Hay had an inauspicious start to his career: he left school at 13 to work in a drapery to help support his widowed mother who was bringing up nine children.

In 1909 Hay joined Christchurch department store J Ballantyne & Company, cementing his love for retailing, and in 1929 he joined with others to form his own store, Hay's.

After a successful public flotation in 1934, Hay's grew to become a leading South Island department-store chain, known by its slogan "the friendly store". It merged with Wright Stephenson & Company in 1968 to form Haywrights.

Hay set up the J L Hay Charitable Trust in 1959 and was a Christchurch city councillor.