Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cecil Scott Waine (1888–1964)

by Peter Spearritt and John Young

This article was published:

Cecil Scott Waine (1888-1964), accountant and businessman, was born on 30 January 1888 in Sydney, fourth child of John Charles Waine, a builder from England, and his native-born wife Medora Margaret Lucy, née Chatfield. Cecil later styled his surname as Scott Waine. Educated at Sydney Grammar School, he joined the Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand in 1905 as an accountant. In the following year he was articled to Troup, Harwood & Co., public accountants. He was fond of sport and helped to form the Coogee Surf and Life-Saving Club.

On completing his articles in 1911, Scott Waine was admitted as an associate (fellow 1918) of the Australasian Corporation of Public Accountants. In 1913 he established his own business; C. R. Mitchell joined him in partnership two years later. At St James's Anglican Church, King Street, on 25 October 1916 Scott Waine married Florence Elizabeth Christmas. They had two daughters before Florence died in 1920. The association with the Christmas family was to have a significant effect on his career. On 10 January 1923 he married Margaret Giles Dixon at St Philip's Church, Sydney. He remained senior partner of C. Scott Waine & Mitchell until his death.

About 1919 Scott Waine had formed a partnership with his brother-in-law Harold Christmas and S. E. Chatterton to establish a retail business in ladies' wear. It flourished and Christmas presided over its transition to Woolworths Ltd, which began with a modest shop in the basement of the Imperial Arcade in 1924. Scott Waine was one of five directors of Woolworths, and its chairman from 1932. He was to become chairman or a director of Woolworths' subsidiary firms and several other public companies.

In the 1930s Woolworths developed into a chain of variety stores. J. A. Browne, president of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, investigated chain stores in 1937. Scott Waine publicly defended Woolworths' stores as superior in location, appearance and display, and as offering goods at competitively low prices. His belief in market forces coincided with his bitter criticism in 1942 of the Commonwealth government's proposal to restrict company profits to 4 per cent.

By 1950 Woolworths had 114 variety stores, in most Australian States and New Zealand. Competition with G. J. Coles & Co. Ltd came about as each extended its operations interstate, and Coles led by diversifying into groceries. Scott Waine presided over Woolworths' acquisition of B.C.C. Stores Holding Co. Ltd (the successful Brisbane cash-and-carry business) in 1958, its expansion into further grocery chains in New South Wales and Western Australia in 1960, and its diversification into clothing and Manchester with the purchase of Rockmans Ltd in 1961. The postwar growth of Woolworths had been assisted by Scott Waine's financial acumen and by (Sir) Theo Kelly's drive as managing director.

A member of the Australian and Royal Sydney Golf clubs, Scott Waine lived at Warrawee. He owned and collected Georgian silver, antique Dutch and English furniture and Venetian glass. After thirty-one years as Woolworths' chairman, he retired in 1963. He died on 6 September 1964 at Warrawee and was buried in Randwick cemetery; his wife, and their son and daughter, survived him, as did the two daughters of his first marriage.

Select Bibliography

  • Retail Merchandiser, 14, no 2, 1966, p 4
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Feb 1937, 22, 29 Apr, 25 July 1942, 24 Sept 1960, 9 Sept 1964.

Citation details

Peter Spearritt and John Young, 'Scott Waine, Cecil (1888–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 24 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Waine, Cecil Scott

30 January, 1888
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


6 September, 1964 (aged 76)
Warrawee, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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