An iconic Wellington brand farewelled, David Jones welcomed

  • Opinion
  • June 9, 2015
  • Paul Keane
An iconic Wellington brand farewelled, David Jones welcomed

A business that started in 1863 and finally falters in 2015 – that’s 152 years – can be seen as a success story or a declining failure, depending on your point of view. Kirkcaldie & Stains in Wellington is such a story. An icon of Wellington retail history, located in a premium CBD retail location as Wellington’s premium department store. Most Wellington families, and most visitors to Wellington, will remember their experience of this department store. So what went wrong?

Kirkcaldie & Stains was never reinvented

What does reinvention mean? Well, it hadn’t moved with the times. It was always of the same physical image that it had been a century ago.We discussed this earlier last year; commenting that the store had dreadfully low ceilings and was claustrophobic. Had the retailer refurbished the store 20 years ago and bought its retail statement into the 21st century, it could well have still been trading profitably today. Recognising change and adapting to that change is essential for all retailers, and Kirks is no different.

Closure was inevitable given sales

Does this mean the closure of an iconic store and a final farewell? Of course, and there will be customers together with past and present employees who will be loath to bid it farewell, as they were many years ago when James Smith closed. However, closure was inevitable given the sales and profit performance. It’s been a long time since the store was making $40 million a year in sales, and the current sales of less than $35 million (including concessions) are simply not enough in this location given the overheads.

Closure and reopening as a David Jones is the best possible result. In bidding farewell to an iconic brand, most Wellingtonians will be delighted with the brand replacement.

What David Jones will bring

David Jones is owned by the South African company Woolworths Holdings who also own Witchery, Country Road and Trenery (as opposed to Woolworths Australia who own progressive New Zealand). David Jones is a fresh international department store for New Zealand. It comes with a high level of retail skill out of its Australian experience and we would expect that it will bring significant fanfare to its New Zealand statement. This will include both a new retail image and layout, together with a major range of merchandise as per traditional department store offerings.

So is it considered a sound entry for both retail and property reasons? Absolutely. We have commented previously as to the lack of international branded department stores in this country. It was 20 years ago when David Jones looked hard at occupying department store space in Auckland, but the goal was never achieved.

The opportunity in Wellington must have been seen as a no-brainer. How often is a key site offered at a cheap entry rate? That’s what it was. Kirks would have been keen to exit and the challenge would have been to find a quality replacement, to satisfy lease conditions.

David Jones would have answered all the questions and is likely to meet the building owner’s requirements (Sir Bob Jones still needs to indicate that he approves of the transaction). It’s not easy opening a department store. They are seen as “anchors” and the cost of operating and running such a store is a major both operationally and financially. Given that effort, one would assume that they will be here for the long haul.

David Jones will be eyeing Auckland

So what next in New Zealand for David Jones? Regardless of comments from the executive, it is very apparent that the company will have eyed up Auckland as a next step. Property owners in Auckland who have the vision and the space availability in the right location will be licking their lips at the possibility of acquiring this key brand. A long lease with a quality international brand can add volumes to any lease and building valuation. Further, David Jones will want exposure to New Zealand’s major city with a large population.

The year of the department stores

The move is hot on the heels of H&J Smith’s takeover of the Arthur Barnett store in Dunedin, and the news that Farmers will shift into the old Whitcoulls premises in Auckland’s Queen St. 2015 may be remembered as “The year of the department stores."

So let’s get ready for a major retail statement in 2016. David Jones are coming and they will bring a much needed shot in the arm, not only for Wellington retailing but the country as a whole.

 Paul Keane is a registered property professional and has vast experience in New Zealand’s commercial property industries. He provides retail and property consultancy including development management to many New Zealand property owners, developers and city councils. 

This post originally appeared on RCG's blog.

​ ​

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