Yates was founded by Arthur Yates, an Englishman who migrated to New Zealand in 1879 to escape the damp weather of his native Manchester. The seed business that Arthur opened in Auckland in 1883 was the beginning of what was to become one of the most recognised names in Australian and New Zealand gardening.
In 1886 Arthur visited Sydney, where he saw an opportunity to establish a similar enterprise. So in 1887 he left his brother, Ernest, to manage the New Zealand seed business and opened a branch in Sussex St, Sydney. In 1906 the two brothers came to an amicable agreement to separate the two companies and run them independently either side of the Tasman. This continued until the late 1980s when the two companies joined together again.
By 1893 Arthur had launched his seed packets for home gardeners. He prided himself on always selling the best quality seeds and ‘Yates Reliable Seeds’ became the company’s catchcry. As time passed Yates became more and more an integral part of the garden, selling a range of products that included fertilisers, sprays, pots, potting mix and tools as well as seeds. In 1895 Arthur saw the need for a publication that answered gardeners’ questions so he wrote the first Yates Garden Guide, a basic gardening book that is still published more than 110 years later.
Yates has established itself as an integral part of Australian and New Zealand gardening history, but much of the company’s success rests on its ability to adapt to changes in lifestyle and to continue meeting the needs of gardeners in each new generation.