Two years after David Jones opened the doors on its Wellington store, the Australian retailer is taking on Auckland, opening before Christmas next year.

Since it announced its New Zealand debut in 2015, analysts and retail commentators have been adamant the department store would have to turn its eye to Auckland to get the economy of scale offered by the super city.

In 2015 the retailer announced it had purchased the struggling Wellington institution Kirkcaldie & Stains for A$400,000 ($431,000) following a seven-year period of losses for the Wellington company.

In comparison to its Australian outfits which usually feature high ceilings and several floors of retail space, the Kirk's site was relatively modest. In its $20 million refurbishment of the property, David Jones had to work within the pre-existing structure - something they said at the time had meant a slightly smaller offering for customers.

Advertisement

The development planned for Newmarket is a new, fit for purpose building and would be significantly bigger than the Wellington store, chief executive David Thomas said.

The Newmarket will not have space limitations, allowing for a broader spread of brands. Photo/Supplied.
The Newmarket will not have space limitations, allowing for a broader spread of brands. Photo/Supplied.

Thomas has already said the new store would aim to combine the best of local and international brands. He has also said that he will bring new-to-market brands to Auckland.

Thomas said the store opening would lead to the addition of 150 new staff members.

For its Wellington opening, the department store giant brought a selection of retailers previously only available in boutiques in New Zealand, including Camilla and Marc, Shona Joy, Aesop, Hardy Amies and Tom Ford among a selection of its brands.

David Jones was also the first store in New Zealand to offer renowned international labels Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Saint Laurent, as well as featuring favourites such as Chanel, Raymond Weil, Mimco and Samantha Wills.

It also stocked a fine jewellery offering, featuring popular Australian brand Kailis Pearls and UK brands Monica Vinader and Astley Clarke.

The company has already had the benefit of customer insight in Auckland through its Country Road brand, purchased a few years ago.

David Jones has struggled in the tough Australian retail category in recent years, with the company writing down AU$712 million due to an impairment charge. This equated to a third of the UAUS2.2 billion figure paid by South African-owned Woolworths for the business.

The arrival of the Aussie retailer will increase competition in the Auckland market, with the company likely to go toe to toe with Auckland's landmark department store Smith & Caughey's.

In 2015, Smith & Caughey's reaffirmed its commitment to Auckland, saying the arrival of the Australian store was not unusual.

"It is no real surprise that David Jones is entering the market, as we have been expecting it for some years," said executive director Andrew Caughey.

"It will add to the competitive environment that all retail is facing. Regardless of this announcement, Smith and Caughey's is well advanced in planning to expand and enhance its offering over the coming years."

David Jones:

• Leading Australian department store founded in 1838 in Sydney.
• Operates 43 stores and three warehouse outlets across Australia.
• Stocks over 1700 brands including its own David Jones line.
• The Wellington store was its first overseas outlet.