Who Is David Jones?

  • Opinion
  • May 9, 2019
  • John Polkinghorne
Who Is David Jones?

With David Jones set to open its first Auckland store this year, RCG's John Polkinghorne thinks it's good time to look at this Australian retail icon – how did they make their way to New Zealand?  What are they planning, and who is David Jones?

There’s quite a history to David Jones. The brand was founded by a Welsh immigrant in 1838 – named, of course, David Jones – making it the oldest department store in the world to still be trading under its original name. 

David Jones expanded across Australia in the post-war era, and became Australia’s most premium department store chain. Today, the brand has 45 stores across Australia – and a single overseas store, in Wellington. The Wellington expansion came about because Kirkcaldie & Stains, an independent department store, couldn't see a way back to profit. David Jones took over their premises, closed the store for 6 months while they undertook a $20 million refurbishment, and reopened as New Zealand’s first David Jones store in July 2016.

It’s taken three years, but David Jones is now poised to open their second New Zealand store, in Westfield Newmarket. It’s the perfect location: there’s fantastic synergy between what owners Scentre Group want for the centre, what David Jones provides, and what the customer base demands. There will be a significant high fashion and beauty offering, with many global brands being introduced to the area. This responds to the double digit growth being witnessed by cosmetic competitors, and will start to rebuild Newmarket as the 'fashion quarter' as it has been previously labeled as. 

Westfield Newmarket was always a very successful shopping centre, popular with shoppers from across Auckland’s central and eastern suburbs – some of the most well-off parts of New Zealand. It was home to a number of high-end and boutique brands.

When the centre reopens later in 2019, it will provide a much larger retail offering: 230 stores, with the tenancy mix still focused on the mid to upper market, and including new ‘luxury’ retailers too.

So, who is David Jones today? David Jones is part of Woolworths Holdings, a major Southern Hemisphere retail group. They own retail brands in Africa, plus David Jones and Country Road Group (which includes Country Road, Mimco, Witchery, Trenery and Politix). David Jones occupies 480,000 square metres of trading space and has sales of AUD $1.5 billion (or $2.2 billion, including sales from specialty concessions inside its stores).

David Jones meshes well with the upmarket specialty brands in Woolworths Holdings’ portfolio, so expect to see some of these stores in Westfield Newmarket, and maybe inside the actual David Jones store. There is significant anticipation for their opening among the market, and many Kiwis have had exposure to the David Jones brand during their travels to Australia, (and Wellington on a smaller scale). The accessibility of many global brands in the one location coupled with attractive promotions, will be sure to see this Anchor as a major asset for Westfield Newmarket and their shoppers.

David Jones hasn’t been immune to a flat Australian retail sector, or the issues faced by department stores around the world, but the brand is profitable and owned by a company that takes good care of its retailers. We think it will do very well in Newmarket...

This story originally appeared on RCG's blog.

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