Farmers re-imagines its department stores for city living

  • News
  • November 24, 2015
  • Sarah Dunn
Farmers re-imagines its department stores for city living

The Queen St Farmers store opened on November 12 after a $5 million fit-out. The store represents a bold return to Queen St for Farmers, which closed an outlet at a different location early in 2014 at the end of its lease. Farmers managing director and CEO Rod McDermott says the new store is characterised by a focus on the individual city consumer.

According to Colliers’ 2015 NZ Retail Report, average prime rents in Auckland’s CBD have reached over $4000 per square metre. Therefore, every item in Farmers Queen St’s 1600sqm store has to earn its keep. The foot traffic is worth it, however - McDermott says 40,000 people pass by the Queen St shopfront each day.

“We’re talking probably the most prominent retail store on the street.”

The Farmers Queen St building at the corner of Queen St and Victoria St formerly housed Whitcoulls. Both Whitcoulls and Farmers are owned by the James Pascoe Group. Whitcoulls has not disappeared from the area – it has been shifted into a smaller space in the Downtown Mall, and is accessible from level one of Farmers.

The heritage building was built in 1899 for the Direct Supply Company, and was bought in 1910 by John Court Limited. As part of Farmers’ fit-out, which began in July and was completed in just 17 weeks, the main door was moved from the corner to Victoria St. McDermott says that when the floor was lifted, the team found they had inadvertently reinstated the door to its original position.

 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1195

The store is designed to maximise retail floorspace, and to let in as much natural light as possible. An atrium effect was developed on level two by doing away with a lot of back-of-house space: “Being an old building, it’s got quirky spaces in the architecture and challenges in the construction that limited choice,” McDermott says.

The fit-out features a neutral palette of cream and white, with light grey and steel detailing. Usually, McDermott says, Farmers will break its stores into separate zones by using different design elements, but in this store, each level has retained a uniform look. There are some unusual touches of luxury – McMillan is particularly proud of the carpet in the lingerie section on level two, which boasts a very deep pile.

“When you’re in the same street as European luxury brands and new overseas brands, you really need to put your best foot forward,” McDermott says.

McDermott has Farmers Queen St’s typical customer down pat. They’re an individual, not shopping for a family, and likely to be based in the city for work or study. They’re all about convenience: “We feel that [as] the customer, you’re thinking in terms of ‘Buy now, use now.’”

In accordance with this, Farmers Queen St stocks full ranges of the kind of items an office worker or apartment dweller might conceivably dash out to buy at short notice, and limits itself to only the best of the rest. On the ground floor, it has an enormous range of fragrances, skincare and cosmetics, plus the largest hosiery range in all of Farmers.

Among the skincare items, a stand-alone display of New Zealand made products caters for customers walking to Farmers from the cruise ship terminal down at the wharf. Store manager Irene Seiderer can confirm this strategy is effective – these customers will commonly retain their boarding passes as they shop, she says.

The menswear section on level one stocks formal clothing, officewear, a small amount of weekend clothing, and a great deal of underwear.

“Where else on Queen St do you buy this?” McDermott asks of the men’s underwear. “You really can’t.”

The menswear section also houses a separate display of Lego. Unlike “the gadget shop” across the aisle in the homeware section, which is aimed at office workers on the hunt for a playful gift to give colleagues, the Lego stand is about giving shoppers the opportunity to buy an instant birthday present for the children in their lives.

To save on space, some sections are dominated by a single, top-performing brand. Only Domani linen is sold in the homewares section, and a Philips display on the ground floor accounts for haircare and grooming devices.

Seiderer says she was worried on opening day whether customers would venture up to the womenswear section on level two, but it’s turned out to be just as busy as the ground floor. Level two is what McMillan calls “a whole floor for her alone”: women’s fashion, lingerie, and handbags and accessories.

Like the menswear section, level two is aimed at the career customer and does not carry Farmers’ full range. It is, however, carefully appointed – there’s McMillan’s special carpet, and the fitting rooms are equipped with unobtrusive lights which allow customers to call for a sales assistant.

Starting on opening week with 95 brand new team members had been stressful, Seiderer says, but all had received training in other stores before coming to Queen St. They were all pleased to be there: “We were frantically busy on [opening day] but everyone was still smiling because they were on a high.”

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.


Pams Pantry: The groundbreaking convenience store shaking up rural Canterbury

Dairies have a special place in the hearts of heartland New Zealanders, but now there’s a new format in town.


Diamonds in a rhinestone world: How jewellers are holding fast

Pricier products from retail’s apparel segment are often described as an ‘investment purchase’, but finance professionals would disagree on most counts – except when it ...


Come and celebrate our industry with the who’s who of retail

  • News
  • September 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Come and celebrate our industry with the who’s who of retail

Our Gem Retail Hotlist is about celebrating the vitality and innovation of New Zealand’s retail sector. Get your free ticket and join our industry’s top retailers for the networking event of the year.

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.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
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 ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
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 ...
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 ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

  • News
  • September 17, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

Our advertising landscape continues to rotate around the growth of digital and how digital can be used to further capture the attention of viewers.Yet there is one type of adverting so simple, so primal, so no-nonsense that even in this computer run society it has survived. We’re talking here, about inflatable, or balloon, advertising.

Read more

Tourism’s changing landscape

When we last looked at tourism back in 2016, the general vibe was positive. Smaller town retailers were starting to again hear the hum of ...


Selling memories in the tourist market

  • Opinion
  • September 17, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Selling memories in the tourist market

NZ Retail editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn invites retailers to consider the real significance of souvenirs: Tourists aren't just buying products, but keepsakes that carry their memories of a great holiday.

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