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Ron Reedman remembered by Michael Gerson

Aug 21, 2016
Ronald Arthur Reedman of Grace Brothers in Australia has died at the age of 96.

He was probably the most distinguished and successful person in the moving world and finished his career as chairman of Grace Brothers, the Australian departmental store (compared to House Of Fraser), also known for its television series 'Are you being served'.

When Ron left the army he returned to Charles Batty of Battys of Hendon in the UK and managed Battys and also Elloways of Kilburn. Whilst these were good sound family businesses nevetheless  Ron saw limited horizons coming up particularly because Charles Batty's son who had been secretary to the Governor of Malta was coming home to the UK and Ron foresaw this as likely to limit his possibilities.  

Ron was also, I think, either engaged to be married or had just been married to Barbara his fiancée.  I remember my father discussing it with Ron because the decision to accept a job in Australia at that time would have been quite momentous if it had not worked out.  He and Barbara would never be able to afford to come back to the UK as their financial resources would have been exhausted. The journey alone would have taken between four and six weeks.  

Ron, following discussions with my father, Frederick Windwood of Windwoods of Worcester and various other prominent industry characters, decided to accept the position advertised and bring sophistication and expertise to Australia (Ron in common with many of us had attended the educational and degree programmes of the institute which gave us high standards of knowledge).    

Ron went out to Australia and not only did he set up the moving industry, depots of Grace Brothers in each of the states, but he also progressed at a spectacular pace and became chairman of Grace Brothers of which the moving side was only a part.  

The television soap 'Are you being Served' was based on Grace Brothers. Ron told me that when the two writers of Grace Brothers had their office on the opposite side of the street in Sydney they at lunchtime would go over and have sandwiches and coffee in Grace Brothers.  

Ron originally, with his Board, were furious that there name was being used in this way, however very soon, as a result of the popularity of the programme, no doubt they changed their minds and it was probably the best PR campaign that anyone has had, particularly since it cost them nothing, but spread their name throughout Australia.  

The name of Ron Reedman, though unknown to this generation, possibly was the most interesting and capable member of the moving industry anywhere.

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