Outback meets upmarket at R.M.Williams Wellington

  • Design
  • October 21, 2016
  • Sarah Dunn
Outback meets upmarket at R.M.Williams Wellington

For Kiwis hailing from farming or equestrian backgrounds, R.M.Williams will not be an unfamiliar brand, but its arrival in the central city and growing high-fashion empire may come as a surprise.

The company was founded in 1932 by one Reginald Murray Williams, who found a way to create hard-wearing boots out of a single piece of leather. He advertised the result in Adelaide’s Chronicle newspaper in 1934, and the rest is history.

The business came to be known for its catalogue and expanded significantly within Australia, arriving on the global stage when former US president Bill Clinton wore a pair of R.M.Williams boots to his inauguration ceremony in 1993.

In 2013, 49.9 percent of the company was bought by luxury conglomerate LVMH’s private equity and venture capital arm, L Capital. Later, the consortium of L Capital and global fund manager IFM Investors acquired the residual stake from owner Ken Cowley, a long-time friend of the founder. Australian-born Hollywood star Hugh Jackman later took on a share in the company as well.

With its new ownership has come an updated brand identity. Over the last few years, R.M.Williams has started to follow in the footsteps of its prestigious stablemates. It has broadened its appeal to include townies and fashionists from around the globe, and now exports to 15 countries. This is supported by an increased focus on ecommerce and by the London flagship – surprisingly, R.M.Williams’ bricks and mortar presence in London dates from 1989.

The company has 36 existing retail stockists across New Zealand but has long been considering establishing a bricks and mortar store in Wellington, says chief executive officer Raju Vuppalapati.

“Wellington is a beautiful town, where the weather is often tough yet it doesn’t dampen the spirit or the lifestyle of the people. This type of environment is perfect for R.M.Williams’ products, which are purposely built from the boots up, to last a lifetime.

We have been watching Wellington’s economy including the growth in GDP, house prices, and retail and feel it is an environment that will continue to strengthen, and that is something we want to be a part of.”

The 136 square metre store at 75 Willis St Corner will carry most of R.M.Williams’ products, including newly-introduced core products like the women’s Adelaide boot.

Its fit-out follows an interior design concept created by Australian experience design company e2, which was first executed in Melbourne’s Doncaster store. In a nod to the brand’s legacy, the store is meant to feel like a high-end interpretation of a heritage woolshed.

Features include a timber shopfront and a long boot display table with copper plating, complemented by steel framework for product to hang on which was inspired by stockyard fencing.

A lighting fixture modeled off the overhanging fixtures of feed troughs at sheep and horse stations hangs above the boot display table.

Sustainable design principles have informed the store’s design, with recyclable and sustainably-sourced materials dominating. The lighting and digital equipment also make use of energy-efficient technology.

As well as the Wellington store, R.M.Williams is opening flagships in London, New York and Auckland this year – Auckland’s opening in July came barely a month after the Wellington store welcomed customers in on June 4. Its site is 176 square metres in size, and is located in a prime spot at the corner of Queen St and Customs St.

In keeping with its position as a flagship, the Auckland R.M.Williams boasts a bespoke footwear service allowing customers to choose their preferred boot style, leathers and finishings.

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 745 August/September 2016

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

Read more

Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

NZ Retail and The Register’s sales and marketing breakfast saw dozens of Kiwi retailers come together to network, sharing tips and tricks and absorbing expert advice.

Read more

Who stole Christmas?

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Kelly Withers
Who stole Christmas?

Results are starting to trickle in from Christmas 2018/2019, and for many retailers, they're a little disappointing. Paydar chief executive and co-founder Kelly Withers explores the data.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

A group of visiting Chinese businesspeople have raised $2.35 million for victims of the Christchurch mass shooting.

Read more

The Retail NZ Awards: What does it take to be a winning retailer?

Take this time to shine with the upcoming Retail NZ awards, a chance to show the retail industry what makes your business stand out. No ...


Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

  • News
  • March 20, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

In the wake of the attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community on March 15, strong calls for changes to New Zealand’s gun last have been made. Trade Me was the first retailer to act, halting the sale of all semi-automatic weapons on its platform, and it has now been joined by Hunting & Fishing New Zealand.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit