Our History


Discover the history of Elders, and our vision for the future. 

As a trusted Australian agribusiness, Elders has played an important role in the agricultural sector for more than 180 years.

From humble beginings in Adelaide, the business has grown. Like you, we've had our lean years and our green years. Today our expansive network spans across Australia and offers links to markets, tailored advice and specialist knowledge across a range of products and services, including farm supplies, agronomy, livestock, wool, grain, finance, insurance, and real estate.

We're proud of our history, which you can explore below, but our eyes are firmly on building a sustainable future for Australian agriculture. 



Alexander Lang (AL) Elder sets sail with supplies including 60 barrels of tar, 6,000 roofing slates, seeds and agricultural tools bound for Australia. This cargo becomes the foundation, and future of Australian agriculture. 


Thomas Elder joins his brother George Jr to form a new partnership, Elder & Co. Thomas went on to become a leader in pastoral expansion, exploration and philanthropy and the company diversified to shipping and wool broking. 


Elder and Barr-Smith open the first wool-broking facilities in Adelaide. With custom-built warehouses in Port Adelaide and a network of agents across 64 rural communities, we are shearing around 1.5 million sheep, yielding around 30,000 bales of wool. 


With the opening of an Elder, Smith & Co branch in Brisbane, we now are in every capital city on the Australian mainland. 


Australia is “riding on the sheep’s back”. Elder, Smith & Co merges with Goldsbrough Mort to become Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort (Elders GM). We pay 10 per cent dividend the first two years, increasing to 12 per cent by 1969 and controls 28.06 per cent of the national wool clip. 


Changing times are coming. Robert Holmes a Court makes an offer to buy 50 per cent of our capital. Led by John Elliot, Henry Jones IXL merges with Elders GM to form Elders IXL. We subsequently take over Carlton United Breweries and add more than a dozen businesses to our company. 


The now iconic pink shirt is introduced as our uniform. 


We lose almost $1 million. Our pastoral arm is floated as Elders Australia Limited. 


We have more than 400 locations across Australia and representation in the key markets of Japan, Indonesia, China, Germany and Italy. By the following year we record a profit of $102 million, the second highest in our history. 


The global financial crisis hits us hard. We outline a plan to return to a pure-play agribusiness and undertake a divestment plan to reduce debt over the next few years. 


Mark Allison is announced as the new company Chair, becoming Executive Chair as the CE stands down after five years in the role. 


We pay dividends for the first time in nine years. Our first Eight Point Plan introduces technical and digital services as a key pillar. The Thomas Elder Institute and Thomas Elder Consulting are established. 


Despite devastating floods and the impact of Covid on many agricultural communities, commodity prices are booming. Guided by our third Eight Point Plan, we continue to invest in the future of Australian agriculture with strategic acquisitions and a strong focus on clients.  An industry leading Sustainability program is developed. 

Want to know explore our history further?

Download the book Elders 181 Years which details our full history and includes many fabulous historic images. 

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