John (Jan) was born in the Netherlands in 1946. The family of 13 – headed by father Karel and mother Anna – emigrated to Australia in 1960 initially settling at Brisbane’s Wacol Migrant Camp. Karel Van Lieshout, was a plasterer and John had an early but unsuccessful stint in the building industry as well.
John is the founder of the successful Super A-Mart furniture chain which he sold in 2006 for A$500 million to private equity firm Ironbridge Capital. He retained the freehold to some stores. After this he moved into property development and holds a large property portfolio that includes shopping malls and offices. Through his Unison Projects Group, he has acquired 600 housing blocks and 200 townhouses in the Brisbane area. He also has property interests in tourism, residential, industrial and commercial assets.
John is married has three children and lives in Brisbane.
Other members of the family have since founded their own businesses, and the family is known in Australia as the “kings and queens of furniture”, having founded chains including Empire Office Furniture, Super A-Mart, BW Coles, Chevron and the Woolstore.