Kirks loss prompts retail overhaul

Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

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Upmarket Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains is overhauling its retail business model in an attempt to recover from the dismal loss it reported last year of more than $750,000.

In its 150th year of business, "Kirks" has started trading online, offering free delivery around New Zealand. Its retail website sells high-end cosmetics products from brands such as Kiehl's and Jurlique alongside fine fragrances from Bvlgari to Gucci.

Managing director John Milford said at its annual meeting last night that it planned to have its entire cosmetics range for sale over the internet by May.

"It makes sense to start with this category as cosmetics are a very high percentage of our store sales and we have a number of exclusive brands. One of our first sales for Kiehl's was to Mosgiel, so that's quite interesting."

Kirks has matched mid-range nationwide department store Farmers' cosmetics loyalty programme by offering a rewards system for regular customers based on beauty purchases. After a six-month trial of the programme, sales revenues have risen.

Its entire store will be moved into its main Lambton Quay building so that it can earn rental income by leasing out the Harbour City Centre building's ground floor.

"As we speak, we are working on the new cuisine store on the ground floor of the main store; kitchenware products will move to the second floor with a newly refurbished fine china and glass area," Milford said.

In store, it has completely redesigned the layout of its women's fashion, men's shoes, men's gifts and children's shopping areas to attract more custom.

Women's fashion is a key focus for the department store this year, with three new women fashion buyers recently hired, and negotiations are under way to gain exclusivity for several clothing lines from overseas brands.

"We are in negotiation to bring two new Australian fashion brands to Wellington and, even more exciting, an exclusive young fashion brand from the UK."

It had also implemented a special bridal and personal shopping consultation area on its second floor.

Boxing Day last year was the first time it had ever traded the day after Christmas, one of the busiest retail days nationwide, and found sales to be buoyant.

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