Foy & Gibson (also known as Foy's) was one of Australia's largest and earliest department store chains. A large range of goods were manufactured and sold by the company including clothing, manchester, leather goods, soft furnishings, furniture, hardware and food.[1]

Foy & Gibson
Department Store
Productsclothing, manchester, leather goods, soft furnishings, furniture, hardware, food
Former warehouses and factories built for the company in Oxford Street, Collingwood.

The first store was established as a drapery in Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria by Mark Foy. This business prospered, occupying three shops by 1875 and six by 1880. Ownership was transferred to his son Francis Foy in partnership with Willam Gibson in March 1883, but very soon after Francis Foy sold his half share to Gibson and moved to Sydney with his brother Mark, establishing Mark Foy's there in 1885.[2]

When the business expanded in the late 1880s, Gibson was joined by William Dougal and by his nephews Samuel Gibson and John Maclellan. He opened a hardware department and then rearranged the store in 1889, reputedly modelled on the Parisian Bon Marché, creating what is said to be the first department store in Melbourne.[3] Gibson kept his store going despite the 1893 bank crashes through hard work and 'dogged determination', and began to establish his own manufacturing works. By the early 20th century Gibson's workshops produced men's clothing, shirts, ladies' underclothing, millinery, furniture, bedding and hardware, and 'Gibsonia' woollens and hosiery. The complex and the stores became one of the largest employers in Victoria, and dominated the Wellington and Smith streets area with huge red brick multi-level buildings, all designed by architect William Pitt.[4]

Gibson established a branch of the business in Perth in 1895, and subsequently opened a store in Brisbane in 1903 and another in Rundle Street, Adelaide in 1907,[2][5] on the site of the York Hotel, becoming the first Department Store with many interstate branches. A second Melbourne store called the Big Store, opened in Chapel Street, Prahran, in 1902, and in 1935 the Melbourne city store on the corner of Bourke and Swanston was rebuilt.[6]

In 1955 the company was bought out by Cox Brothers. In 1964 Foy & Gibson (WA) Ltd, including ten stores in Western Australia, was sold to David Jones. The Bourke Street Melbourne store was sold to Woolworths in 1967.[7] The Adelaide store continued to trade under the Cox-Foys banner – owned by Harris Scarfe until it closed in 1977. Cox brothers went into receivership in 1968 ending the name of Foys in Melbourne. Letter books, financial records and catalogues are held by the University of Melbourne Archives.[4]


  1. ^ "Part of former Foy and Gibson Complex". Heritage Victoria. Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Gibson, William (1842? - 1918)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Former Foy & Gibson Factory Buildings". Collingwood Historical Society Inc. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b School of Historical Studies, Department of History. "Foy & Gibson - Entry - eMelbourne - The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online". Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  5. ^ "A Mammoth Store". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 7 September 1907. p. 10. Retrieved 23 November 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "ARCHITECTURE & PROPERTY". The Argus (Melbourne) (27, 598). Victoria, Australia. 31 January 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 25 July 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Cox Brothers (Australia) Ltd (1928 - )". Guide to Australian Business Records. Retrieved 27 April 2008.