Upscale Australian department store David Jones is set to become even more luxurious, with the addition of several major European fashion houses at its Sydney flagship store, as part of a $200 million redevelopment.
The 180-year-old department store chain said that French labels Louis Vuitton and Chanel, as well as Italy’s Gucci, are set to open as in-store boutiques at David Jones’ flagship Elizabeth Street store in Sydney.
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Other major labels include Givenchy, Loewe, J.W. Anderson and Mansur Gavriel, coming in the form of store concessions and exclusive collections.
After Sydney, the luxury upgrade will also be rolled out to David Jones’ Melbourne stores.
Funded by the $360 million sale of the company’s Market Street store in 2016, the redevelopment of the Elizabeth Street store will see it grow to 12 floors from 8, with products categorised into six “worlds”.
Floors 7 and 8 will feature an Australia-first champagne and dining room, while below, a luxury shoe department featuring Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci, will bow.
The move is likened to the retail model at London’s Harrods or Sak’s Fifth Avenue in the U.S., and looks to up the ante at DJs, who has suffered sluggish sales of late, along with rival Myer, as consumers flock to online shopping, as well as boutiques, instead of mass stores.
David Jones chief executive David Thomas told reporters that department stores could still be relevant to consumers, but had to play to their strength of being a “mall without the shopfronts” by offering a wide range of the best products, and customer service to match.
“So you come in for a black boot, we should be able to show you the 10 best black boots on the market, as opposed to going into one brand in a mall, where you can only see their offering,” he said.
It’s far less intimidating than walking into a specialty store and far more convenient. That’s how we fight back, that’s the role of the department store.”
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David Jones said comparable sales fell 3.3 percent in the last half, while profits fell by more than 30%. At the time of reporting, the company attributed poor consumer sentiment and its poor private label clothing designed in South Africa, for the demise.
The Elizabeth Street store renovation, planned as a floor-by-floor revamp, should be completed around late 2019.