A Third Generation Family Business
Robert Joseph Stewart founded Bob Stewart of Kew in 1925. Robert Joseph, a keen sportsman, was secretary of the Hawthorn district football club in the 1920’s. He died suddenly in 1931 leaving the then debt-ridden business to his wife Anne and son Robert Francis. Against the advice of family and friends, in the defiance of the social expectations of the time, Anne decided to take over the running of the business. Her determination, courage, and hard work enabled her to pay off the debts and successfully steer the business through both the Great Depression, and the rationing and shortages during the Second World War.
In 1948 Robert Francis joined his mother in the business. Robert took the business in new directions in the 1960’s, firstly through the decision to stock school uniform and later by moving the store to much larger premises in 1969. Through the 1970’s and 1980’s the business grew steadily under Robert’s astute management.
In 1991 Robert Matthew joined his father in the business followed shortly after by Francis bringing new skills and perspectives. The 1990’s were also a time of rapid growth for the business with several new schools and many new families becoming part of the Bob Stewart family.
In 2000/01 Robert and Francis undertook a substantial expansion and refurbishment of the store with support and advice from their father. In 2002/03 Robert and Francis undertook the implementation of leading edge information technology to enable the company to further improve its customer service capabilities. In 2004/05 further information technology development and a substantial expansion of the business’ logistics and warehousing capabilities have greatly enhanced the company’s ability to service on campus stores.
We all look forward enthusiastically to the challenges the future will bring!
We seek to master the art of doing many small things well. In one sense we have only one job as retailers, which is to seek constantly to better understand the needs of our customers and to better serve those needs. Our customers’ requirements are many and varied. They are usually simple, unspectacular in themselves. What is challenging is to do all these simple things right, for each individual customer, every time.
We are passionate about INTEGRITY in business. For us, people really do come before profits. Of course, we are in business to make a profit that is the price of staying in business. We have learnt, that over the long term, the best way to achieve our goal is to put people first, both our customers and our staff.
We see ourselves as part of the community both as responsible employers and through the many community projects we support. We have a long tradition in supporting community projects and organisations. Our corporate partnerships with MacKillop family services and the Jesuit run tutoring program ‘Friday Night School’ are the most recent developments in a long history of community involvement.
We are very proud to be “part of the family”. Many families have been doing business with us for many years, across several generations. For many of the families “Bobby’s” is part of the furniture, a trusted family friend where children can be sent to buy what they need without their parents, confident in the knowledge that they will be looked after just as well as if mum or dad was with them. We are very honoured by that trust.
We consider ourselves to be part of the school community. We are very conscious that for many students and parents, the experience of buying their new uniform impacts strongly on their first impressions of your school. It is essential that this be a pleasant, friendly, and professional experience.