David Jones splashes out on Wellington store renovation
David Jones has overspent on its first New Zealand store, but management says it will not scrimp on creating one of the world's most beautiful department stores.
Chief operating officer David Thomas was in Wellington on Friday to check out how work on the 7000 square metres store was progressing ahead of its July 28 opening.
David Jones, which is owned by South African company Woolworths Holdings, also owns fashion chains Country Road and Witchery.
It paid A$400,000 (NZ$428,000) to take over Kirkcaldie & Stains' lease and buy the rights to use its name and the cost of the refurbishment was touted to be about $20 million.
The Kirks building had not been upgraded in decades, so it was a blank canvas for a major renovation that saw ceilings heightened, cooling and heating systems and a kitchen installed for the restaurant on the top floor.
"It cost a lot more than we wanted but it's a great space and will be one of the most beautiful stores in the world."
David Jones would have a different look and feel than Kirks and would be much more contemporary and relevant, he said.
"We are on time to open, but, on budget, we will see at the end of the project."
A David Jones store in Melbourne recently won an award for the best designed department store in the world and Thomas was confident Wellington could be in with a chance of winning the same award.
"What we have created here is far more beautiful than what we did there."
David Jones wanted to let the Wellington store settle before considering sites elsewhere in New Zealand.
The Wellington store would be divided up into various "worlds" such as luxury watches, accessories and shoes, with boutique brands on the fringe of the store.
Beauty would run from the front to the back of the ground floor and would include beauty services, while designer brands would take pride of place in prime positions in the store.
"Kirks was a special department store for Wellington and we have tried to be respectful to it but we have created our own ambience," Thomas said.
Thomas was aware the store was having a 'halo effect' on the Wellington retail sector, which was experiencing growth on the back of David Jones moving into the capital.
"There is an element of excitement and lot of of other retailers think if they [David Jones] can do it, we can do it too."