Michael Kent, Tasmanian business identity and former Glamorgan Spring Bay mayor, dies
Mr Kent served as mayor on the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council but was replaced in the October elections. (ABC News: Rhiannon Shine)
Well-known Tasmanian business identity and former Glamorgan Spring Bay mayor Michael Kent has died aged 76.
- Michael Kent started his working life packing groceries at Tasmanian supermarket chain Purity, now Woolworths
- He headed the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and led the push to reform shop trading hours in the state
- He was most recently Glamorgan Spring Bay mayor, but lost his position at the council elections in October
Mr Kent led the push to reform shop trading hours in Tasmania, and was also known for driving the campaign to secure a Tasmanian team in the Australian Football League.
He was most recently the mayor of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council on the state’s east coast, but lost his position at the October local government elections.
But his biggest claim to fame was the successful campaign for seven-days-a-week retail trading.
Mr Kent began his working life packing groceries for Tasmanian supermarket chain Purity, now Woolworths, climbing the ranks to become chief executive of the Tasmanian arm.
He headed the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and also chaired the former TOTE Tasmania, overseeing big changes in racing and gambling.
‘My job is my hobby and my hobby is my job’
Michael Kent started his career packing groceries for the supermarket chain Purity. (Supplied: Michael Kent)
The Hobart-born businessman was a proud Tasmanian who was not afraid to speak his mind.
That included calling for fewer politicians and another state election after a hung parliament in 1996.
Mr Kent was also a vocal supporter of development in the state, standing up for projects like the controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill.
“If there’s a challenge I’m happy to get in and help,” he said.
“My job is my hobby and my hobby is my job.”
Kent ‘never dreamed he’d end up at the top’
As a youngster he worked at his parent’s South Hobart shop and recalled stocking the shelves with his sister, weighing sugar and flour.
Kent Kong … Michael Kent is best known for his career in supermarkets but he also has a passion for football. (Supplied: Michael Kent)
After attending St Virgil’s school in Hobart he went to Victoria to spend a year with the Christian Brothers, but then returned to Tasmania.
After a stint working with the Tasmanian Government, he became an insurance salesman before finding his calling in retail with Purity.
“Some of the things we tried to introduce were too early for Tasmanians,” he told the ABC.
“We were the first supermarket in Australia to introduce a loyalty system.”
Reflecting on his career, Mr Kent said did not expect to become such an influential figure.
“I never dreamed I’d end up at the top within the industry,” he said.
The former Tasmanian Football League chairman he was unable to secure a state team in the AFL, but did head the taskforce which led to regular AFL games in Tasmania.
Mr Kent’s services to retailing, sport and charities were recognised with an Australia Medal.