A visual journey of Westfield’s evolution, as told by its co-founder and executive team.
In July 1959 John Saunders and Frank Lowy opened their first shopping centre - Westfield Plaza in Blacktown. With 12 shops, 2 department stores and a supermarket, people flocked to see the plaza which newspapers of the day described as 'the most modern American-type combined retail centre'. By year-end Westfield Plaza was established as Blacktown's commercial hub.
Westfield was incorporated in June of 1960, and shortly afterwards, Saunders and Lowy issued a prospectus for its listing on the Sydney Stock Exchange. In September Westfield Development Corporation Ltd was floated with the issue of 300,000 ordinary shares at a price of five shillings each.
The first purpose-built centre, funded by the recent float, opened at Hornsby at a cost of £345,000. With 22 stores - and generating 250 jobs in retail - it played a major role in attracting residents to the area.
By the end of 1962, the Westfield portfolio had grown to eight centres either completed or under development in Sydney.
In 1966, when Burwood opened, it was praised as one of the most beautiful indoor shopping centres in the world. Burwood was the first shopping centre with a major department store, and importantly, was the first centre to be branded with the Westfield logo
In 1967, the company opened Toombul in Queensland.
Westfield opens Doncaster in Victoria.
Sydney's William St, the eastern corridor to the city, was earmarked to become a grand boulevard in the early 1970s. Westfield bought 2.6 acres fronting William St, and while the dream to transform the precinct was never realised by city planners, Westfield's global headquarters remained there until 2011.
During the 1970s Westfield consistently laid the foundations for what the company would become today. In the space of a single decade, six new centres were built and another five redeveloped including Indooroopilly in Brisbane and Parramatta in Sydney.
By continually fine-tuning its financial strategy, Westfield's profit before tax from income-producing properties rocketed to 85 per cent in 1975. Although they were operating in economically unsettling times, Westfield's directors were certain that increasing rental income would be sufficient to maintain profitability.
Although Westfield had been keeping an eye on the US since the late 1950s, it wasn't until a shift in oversees regulations took place that the company made its first US acquisition in Trumbull, Connecticut on the east coast of America. Today Westfield has more centres in the US - 55 in total - than in any other market.
In 1979 Westfield remodelled its capital structure with the establishment and listing of Westfield Holdings Limited and Westfield Property Trust to meet changing trends in the capital market.
In 1980 Westfield acquired three new centres in the United States, in California, Michigan and Connecticut. The company also acquired the Macy's portfolio in 1986, and established its United States head office in Los Angeles in 1987. By 1988 there were seven centres in Westfield's US portfolio worth $1.1bn.
After three profitable years of The Westfield Property Trust, regulation changes from the Federal Government persuaded Westfield to consider a different structure, and in 1982 Westfield Trust was floated on the Sydney Stock Exchange as a successor to Westfield Property Trust.
At 61 years of age, and a potato farmer by trade, Cliff Young became the unlikely winner of an ultra-marathon race from Sydney's Westfield Parramatta to Melbourne's Westfield Doncaster. He denied himself sleep and raced with a signature energy-conserving shuffle to gradually overtake the other competitors and finish with a new course record.
In a series of firsts, the Group undertook a major redevelopment at Westside Pavilion, Los Angeles, after demolishing most of the existing centre. The new mall featured the first rooftop carpark in the United States, and was the drawcard that finally brought department store Nordstrom to Los Angeles.
Westfield made business headlines when it outbid other parties to successfully acquire three prestigious centres in the Macy's transaction. The acquisition included the powerhouse centre Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.
After 30 years of partnership, John Saunders relinquished his active management in Westfield, stepping away from the business entirely in 1990. That same year, new centres opened at Chatswood and Eastgardens in Sydney.
Two major Sydney centres opened in 1987, at Chatswood and Eastgardens, which became home to Australia's first cinema in a shopping centre.
Warrawong in Wollongong opened in 1988, and redevelopments were completed at Figtree, Southland, Parramatta, Marion, Belconnen and Strathpine, as well as Indooroopilly and Hurstville.
In Australia major redevelopments were completed at Doncaster (Melbourne) and Liverpool and Miranda in Sydney. On its completion, Miranda became Australia's largest shopping centre and the first with more than 300 stores.
Westfield tripled the amount of space it managed in the United States with the US$1 billion CenterMark transaction, which saw the Group acquire 19 centres across America including Topanga, and Plaza Bonita in California and Annapolis in Maryland.
Portfolio expansion continued in Australia with redevelopments, openings and new centres coming under the Group's management. Across the decade 16 centres were redeveloped and the portfolio grew from 21 to 30 centres.
Westfield America Trust was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange enabling Australian investors to make direct investments in the US retail property market.
Westfield entered New Zealand after assuming management of the St Luke’s portfolio, the country's largest shopping centre group with 10 centres across 4 cities.
Westfield acquired the US$1.4 billion TrizecHahn portfolio adding a further 12 properties to the Group's Californian portfolio, making it that state's biggest shopping centre operator. Following the US portfolio growth, a significant branding opportunity became apparent and every centre owned by the Group in the United States was branded Westfield.
Westfield entered the United Kingdom with the acquisition of a centre in Nottingham followed by the establishment of a joint venture interest in nine centres in prime town centre and urban locations.
In Australia, the Group was a major sponsor of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
In New Zealand the Group acquired the NZ$920 million St.Lukes portfolio, branding the centres Westfield.
The Group acquired Sydney's Centrepoint shopping centre - the home of the iconic Sydney Tower and site of the future Westfield Sydney City.
Nine shopping centres were acquired in the United States in the US$756 million Richard E Jacobs transaction. In the same year the US$2.3 billion Rodamco transaction added another 14 malls to the Group's American portfolio, and consolidated its position as one of the largest retail property groups in the United States.
Westfield acquired the $1.9 billion AMP Shopping Centre Trust, adding interest in a further nine high quality shopping centres. The Australian portfolio grew further with the strategic acquisition of Sydney Central Plaza in the city's CBD.
Westfield Group was born when Westfield Holdings, Westfield Trust and Westfield America Trust merged in the company's most significant corporate restructure, creating the world's largest retail property group by equity market capitalisation.
Flagship centres opened at Bondi Junction in Sydney, Century City San Francisco in California and Doncaster in Melbourne while redevelopments continued globally (more than 20 since the decade's beginning) peaking in 2007 with the completion of five projects in four countries over four weeks.
The United Kingdom's largest urban shopping centre opened at Westfield London. The £1.7 billion flagship centre opened with more than 280 stores and attracted 23 million visitors in its first year.