Mock Test 3.2 (Academic Reading)

READING PASSAGE 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

 

The History of “Farmer”

 

A.      History of Farmer trading company: In 1909 Robert Laidlaw established mail-order company Laidlaw Leeds in Fort Street, Auckland. Then, branch expansion: purchase of Green and Colebrook chain store; further provincial stores in Auckland and Waikato to follow. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Opening of first furniture and boot factory. In 1920, company now has 29 branches; Whangarei store purchased. Doors open at Hobson Street for direct selling to public. Firm establishes London and New York buying offices. With permission from the Harbor Board, the large farmers' electric sign on the Wyndham Street frontage is erected.

 

B.      In 1935, if the merchandise has changed, the language of the catalogues hasn’t. Robert Laidlaw, the Scottish immigrant who established the century-old business, might have been scripting a modern-day television commercial when he told his earliest customers: Satisfaction, or your money back. “It was the first money-back guarantee ever offered in New Zealand by any firm”, says Ian Hunter, business historian. “And his mission statement was, potentially, only the second one ever found in the world.” [Crack IELTS with Rob] Laidlaw’s stated aims were simple to build the greatest business in New Zealand, to simplify every transaction, to eliminate all delays, to only sell goods it would pay the customer to buy.

 

C.      This year, the company that began as a mail-order business and now employs 3500 staff across 58 stores turns 100. Its centenary will be celebrated with the release of a book and major community fundraising projects, to be announced next week. Hunter, who is writing the centenary history, says “coming to a Farmers store once a week was a part of the New Zealand way of life”. By 1960, one in every 10 people had an account with the company. It was the place where teenage girls shopped for their first bra, where newlyweds purchased their first dinner sets, where first pay cheques were used to pay off hire purchase furniture, where Santa paraded every Christmas.

 

D.      Gary Blumenthal’s mother shopped there, and so does he. The fondest memory for the Rotorua resident? “We were on holiday in Auckland… I decided that up on the lookout tower on top of the Farmers building would be a unique place to fir the ring on my new fiancé’s finger”. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The lovebirds, who had to wait for “an annoying youth” to leave the tower before they could enjoy their engagement kiss, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June.

 

E.      Farmers, says Hunter, has always had a heart. This, from a 1993 North & South interview with a former board chairman, Rawdon Busfield: “One day I was in the Hobson Street shop and I saw a woman with two small children. They were clean and tidily dressed, but poor, you could tell. That week we had a special on a big bar of chocolate for one shilling. I heard the woman say to her boy, ‘No, your penny won’t buy that’. He wasn’t wearing shoes. So I went up to the boy and said, ‘Son, have you got your penny?’. [Crack IELTS with Rob] He handed it to me. It was hot he he’d had it in his hand for hours. I took the penny and gave him the chocolate.”

 

F.      Farmers was once the home of genteel tearooms, children’s playgrounds and an annual sale of celebration for birthday of Hector the Parrot (the store mascot died, aged 131, in the 1970s his stuffed remains still occupy pride of place at the company’s head office). You could buy houses from Farmers. Its saddle factory supplied the armed forces, and its upright grand overstrung pianos offered “the acme of value” according to those early catalogues hand-drawn by Robert Laidlaw himself. Walk through a Farmers store today and get hit by bright lights and big brands. Its Albany branch houses 16 international cosmetics companies. It buys from approximately 500 suppliers, and about 30% of those are locally owned.

 

G.      “Eight, 10 years ago”, says current chief executive Rod McDermott, “lots of brands wouldn’t partner with us. The stores were quite distressed. We were first price point focused, we weren’t fashion focused”. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Remove the rose-tinted nostalgia, and Farmer is, quite simply, a business, doing business in hard times. Dancing with the Stars presenter Candy Lane launches a clothing line? “We put a trial on, and we thought it was really lovely, but the uptake wasn’t what we thought it would be. It’s got to be what the customer wants,” says McDermott.

 

H.      Lincoln Laidlaw, now aged 88, and the son of the company’s founder, remembers the dark days following the stock-market crash and the collapse of Chase. “I think, once, Farmers was like a big family and all of the people who worked for it felt they were building something which would ultimately be to their benefit and to the benefit of New Zealand… then the business was being divided up and so that think of family situation was dispelled and it hasn’t been recovered”. For a turbulent few years, the stores were controlled, first by a consortium of Australian banks and later Deka, the Maori Development Corporation and Foodland Associated Ltd. In 2003, it went back to “family” ownership, with the purchase by the Jame Pascoe Group, owned by David and Anne Norman the later being the great-granddaughter of James Pascoe, whose first business interest was jewellery.

 

Questions 14 - 18

The reading Passage has eight paragraphs A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

 

  • 14.  Generosity offered in an occasion.

    E
  • 15.  Innovation of offer made by the head of company.

    B
  • 16.  Fashion was not its strong point.

    G
  • 17.  A romantic event on the roof of farmer’s building.

    D
  • 18.  Farmer was sold to a private owned company.

    H

Questions 19 - 23

Complete the sentence below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 19-24 on your answer sheet.

 

  • 19. Farmer was first founded as a in Auckland by Mr. Laidlaw.

    MAIL-ORDER COMPANY
  • 20. Farmer developed fast and bought one afterward.

    CHAIN STORE
  • 21. During oversea expansion, Farmers set up in London and New York.

    BUYING OFFICES
  • 22. Farmer had been holding a once a year for the well-known parrot.

    CELEBRATION
  • 23. In the opinion of Lincoln Laidlaw, Farmers was like a for employees before depression of the company.

    BIG FAMILY

Questions 24 - 26

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-C) with opinions or deeds below.

Write the appropriate letters A-C in boxes 24-26 on your answer sheet.

NB      You may use any letter more than once

 

A      Lincoln Laidlaw

B      Rod McDermott

C      Ian Hunter

 

  • 24.  Product got worse as wrong direction focused.

    B
  • 25.  An unprecedented statement made by Farmer in New Zealand.

    C
  • 26.  Character of the company was changed.

    A

q41-hide

 

 

Please click the red words below for other Sections of this Mock Test:

Mock Test 3 | Listening Test
Mock Test 3 | Academic Reading Passage 1
Mock Test 3 | Academic Reading Passage 3

 

Result: / Exit

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