A.W. Birchall & Sons building in Launceston sold

FAMILY LEGACY: Managing director Graeme Tilley said it was time for ownership to be transferred to a new party to continue Birchalls into the future. The business has been in the Tilley family for nearly 60 years. Picture: Scott Gelston

FAMILY LEGACY: Managing director Graeme Tilley said it was time for ownership to be transferred to a new party to continue Birchalls into the future. The business has been in the Tilley family for nearly 60 years. Picture: Scott Gelston

One of Launceston’s most well-known buildings has been sold for an undisclosed amount to a buyer on the mainland.

The building that houses both Birchalls and Katie’s in the mall, A.W. Birchall & Sons, was purchased after being in the Tilley family’s possession for nearly 60 years.

The owners announced that both the building and Birchalls business were for sale in March, but the business is yet to be sold.

Managing Director Graeme Tilley said negotiations for an eventual sale were continuing with several interested parties.

“Family businesses grow larger and more diverse through generations, so the Board has made the tough decision that it is time to sell Birchalls and let it be carried forward by a new owner,” Mr Tilley said.

The business ownership started with his grandfather Stanley Tilley, whose son Ray took ownership in 1968.

Family businesses grow larger and more diverse through generations, so the Board has made the tough decision that it is time to sell Birchalls and let it be carried forward by a new owner. - Graeme Tilley, Birchalls managing director

Ray Tilley worked at the business for 65 years, while his son, Graeme Tilley has spent the past 24 years dedicated to Birchalls. 

The business is Australia’s oldest bookshop, with a rich history dating back to November 1844.

It was opened on the Brisbane Street site by Samuel Tegg, who at the time said it had a “‘splendid assortment of books, school books, stationery, playing cards, perfumery, fancy goods and music’’.

Andrew W. Birchall became a partner in the business in 1866 and the name was changed to A.W. Brichall and Sons after his death in 1893.

Mr Tilley said the business was still in good health and trading profitably however some staffing changes had been made.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but we have done it to ensure the business can continue,” he said.

Mr Tilley said the sale of the building will settle in 2017, and as a result some operational changes would occur over the next few months to facilitate a possible sale of the business.

Birchalls is being marketed by NAI Harcourts.

RELATED STORY: Convict discovery at Birchalls

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