Golden Fleece Milestones
Golden Fleece was the brand of petroleum and related products marketed and distributed by the Australian Company H.C. Sleigh.
They were primarily based on the east coast of the country.
Harold Crofton Sleigh established a shipping and import/export business in Melbourne.
H.C. Sleigh took over the first consignment of Californian motor spirit imported to Australia and marketed it as Golden Fleece. H.C. Sleigh Limited continued to market Golden Fleece until 1981 when it was acquired by Caltex.
H.C. Sleigh entered the motor spirit retailing field & erected the first solo brand outlet – in Park Street, South Melbourne, Victoria. Based upon his European experience, he was convinced that roadside service was essential to the motorist.
During the next decade the firm, as an experiment, opened 20 service stations in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to sell its own products. The stations provided full drive-in facilities with total commitment to the principle of exclusive marketing which proved to be ahead of its time.
H.C. Sleigh established bulk ocean terminals in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
April 23 Harold Crofton Sleigh died. He was succeeded by Hamilton Sleigh, who had been taken into the partnership in 1924.
A seaboard terminal was built at Newcastle, NSW.
Arrangements were made to distribute to Tasmainia.
motor spirit rationing was introduced in Australia as an emergency routine measure. Rationing was not abandoned until 1950, by the then newly formed Menzies government.
single-brand marketing operations were introduced in Australia by competitors – however, H.C. Sleigh had already firmly established solo brand outlets – the competition challenge was taken up by Golden Fleece and the company designed its own type of service station firmly establishing its unique style. The merino ram (modelled by “David of Dalkeith”) of the company’s trade mark became a familiar and comforting symbol to the motorist.
H.C. Sleigh Limited took delivery of the m.t. Harold Sleigh, 12,600 ton diesel-powered vessel – first tanker owned (through a subsidiary) by an Australian oil company. During the 50’s and 60’s, additional vessels were added to the fleet including in 1954 the Adderley Sleigh 15,900 d.w.t. and in 1957 the Gervase Sleigh 16,200 d.w.t.
During its continual process of re-assessing of opportunities, H.C. Sleigh Limited refined its distribution methods, retail distribution methods, internal operation guidelines, independent operator training programs, marketing material and methods.
The Golden Fleece service station had a great impact on community life, particularly in the non-capital city locations. As a company, H.C. Sleigh pursued a family and community based philosophy with its site owner/operators encouraging local commitment.
The company successfully merged the multi-function roles of provider of nourishment for both the Vehicle and its passengers, and a restaurant for the “locals” with the advent of The Golden Fleece restaurant facility. At its height, H.C. Sleigh Limited operated the largest restaurant chain in the country.
The training and commitment given to maintaining the highest of standards across all outlets is enviable today in the 21 st Century.
H.C. Sleigh’s Petroleum division was sold to Caltex.
The Golden Fleece Restaurants were allowed to slide into obscurity as focus was placed primarily on the retailing of petroleum goods.
Not until the late 1980’s did we see the return to the desire to add value (not to mention loyalty and gross margin) to the consumer’s visit to a service station by encouraging the relaunching of quality food and beverage outlets/restaurants.
Once again, H.C. Sleigh Limited had been well ahead of their competitors in recognising opportunity.
Australian Classic Car – Article by Patrick Quinn November 2001
This Age of Oil – Edited & Published by the Petroleum Information
Bureau (Australia) 1960