Back in Time: Smiths City

  • News
  • July 6, 2017
  • Courtney Devereux
Back in Time: Smiths City

After almost 100 years trading, the 99-year-old iconic brand that is Smiths City has officially opened its 30th store located in Hastings. The new 2230 square metre store officially opened on March 17 and is a welcome addition to the ever-growing retailer.

Founded in 1918 by Henry Cooper Smith, the Christchurch-based company is working towards its 100th birthday next year. Smiths City is going through a national expansion plan and new designs are expected to be rolled out nationwide over the coming years.

The property at 550 Colombo Street, Christchurch was the home of the Ward and Company City Brewery before Henry Cooper Smith bought the place in 1918 and turned it into an auction house.

In 1920, Smith leased extra land where he also auctioned off livestock. The company traded under the name Smiths City Market until 1986, then the following year, it dropped the work ‘market’ from its name.

Smiths City Market Limited was registered as a private company in 1938 but was floated as a public company in 1972.

In 1988 the group reconstructed into two chains – Smiths City Limited, selling homewares; and Smiths DIY Limited, selling builders supplies and sports goods. However, the company was then placed in receivership in 1991.

Smiths City’s success started up again in 1994, March, where it officially became the first publicly listed company in New Zealand to recover from receivership.

Now, Smiths City has a strong community focus, working with many New Zealand charities over the last few decades. This includes Ronald McDonald House, Santa Parade, Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust, Youthline and most recently, the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Fire Service, for which it raised $25,000.

Total expenditure for donations and sponsorship by the group average out at $91,359 in 2010.

Roy Campbell, chief executive of Smiths City Group, said that with the approach of their century celebrations that integral to the retailer’s longevity is its ability to evolve and reflect changing market needs.

“As a retailer you always must be in touch with your customers, understanding what they want and making sure you meet their requirements. It’s an ever-changing market.”

“This new design is a direct response to customer research conducted last year. Customers who shop large ticket furniture and appliances want an enjoyable shopping experience that’s both inspiring and easy,” says Campbell.

In December 2015, Smiths City began consolidating its stores to be under one brand turning its two Wellington-based LV Martin stores that it has owned for more than ten years into renamed Smiths City.

“LV Martin changing its name to Smiths City is a coming together of two retailers with very similar mindsets. We’re a genuine, Kiwi-owned company, with a southern heritage that stretches back more than 85 years,” Campbell then said.

Although an iconic brand, Smiths City hasn’t had a fully smooth ride. Campbell was appointed in May of 2015, only to see the company’s first-half profit slide by 46 percent after it was cleared of wrongdoings over unpaid staff meetings in 2016.

Under Campbell, Smiths City is running a ruler over its assets in a bid to improve earnings.

Campbell has been credited for the significant changes occurring throughout the company that helped it achieve the purchase of Furniture City in January of last year for $5.85 million.

The new Hastings store is the retailer's 30th and was also the start of a combined physical and digital strategy, with customers now offered the option of buying online. Moving into the digital sector upholds Smith City’s philosophy that to survive for a century, you need to keep up with the market.

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 749 April / May 2017

​ ​

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.


Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

  • Who's Where
  • July 16, 2019
  • The Register team
Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

Foodstuffs has announced that its former executive Baden Ngan Kee has passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

Read more

2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

  • News
  • July 14, 2019
  • The Register team
2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

Used car dealer 2 Cheap Cars has been fined $438,000 for its use of “warranty waiver” documents and marketing statements described as “deliberately misleading”.

Read more

Retail's new best friend

  • In association with the IHA Global Innovation Awards (GIA)
  • July 13, 2019
  • Anne Kong
Retail's new best friend

As the heart and soul of retailing further evolves, stores and the essence of shopping will continue to morph in unimaginable ways. However, amidst the storm of change, there is one aspect of shopping that remains pure, constant and motivational – the aspirational moment. Anne Kong, member of the GIA expert jury, shares her thoughts.

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.

Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
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 ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
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 ...

Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

  • News
  • July 12, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

Bendon lingerie is looking to sell some of its brands as the future of the company becomes more uncertain.

Read more

Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Caitlin Salter
Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

The music we love is made up of many influences, including where we live. In its latest campaign, Smirnoff Pure and YoungShand tapped into the unique vibes of New Zealand and set out to help Kiwis discover the music that moves the cities and suburbs they call home.

Read more

Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

Simon Moutter has just wrapped up a seven-year tenure at telecommunications company Spark. Under his rein, the changes the company has gone through are nothing short of radical, from its name (Telecom to Spark), to its operating model (traditional to agile), to its culture (publicly called out to inclusive) to its structure (one monopoly brand to many). Here, Moutter has a candid chat about his journey as CEO, the company's push to be a more diverse and inclusive workplace and how one of his biggest lessons learned was he couldn’t solve a cultural issue with processes and strategy.

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