David Jones' planned Auckland store is "no surprise" , say analysts, as the retailer confirmed the Super City was always on the cards.

The Australian company is leasing 8000sq m of the $790 million Newmarket mega-mall, which is set to open before Christmas next year.

It will be the company's second New Zealand store, after it opened in Wellington's Kirkcaldie & Stains (Kirks) building in 2016.

The Auckland opening is expected to create 150 jobs within the business.

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David Jones chief executive David Thomas said the company had always had its eye on Auckland and the Newmarket location was ideal.

"When we first looked at New Zealand, we didn't choose Wellington; it really chose us. The Kirkcaldie & Stains opportunity was just too good to refuse, but naturally, launching into New Zealand we wanted to launch in Auckland because it's the bigger market," Thomas said yesterday.

"We kind of reversed it. We're really proud of what we did in Wellington but we expect now to build an equally beautiful store here."

David Jones purchased the struggling Kirks for A$400,000 ($431,000) following seven years of losses for the Wellington company. More than $20m was reportedly spent on the initial refurbishment and Thomas said although damage caused by the 2016 earthquake had been slow to repair, the store was performing extremely well.

First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson said the announcement was anticipated, with Newmarket likely to provide greater sales consistency, as well as the "blank canvas" potential the company had with a new site.

David Thomas, CEO of David Jones, says the company has always had its eye on Auckland and the Newmarket location is ideal.
David Thomas, CEO of David Jones, says the company has always had its eye on Auckland and the Newmarket location is ideal.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas said the overall development on Broadway would provide something for everyone.

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10 Feb, 2018 7:45am
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"It's a massive endorsement of Newmarket as a retail destination, to invest almost $800m is pretty impressive and the offering they're bringing in is just a really nice complement to what we already have," he said.

When opening its David Jones Wellington store, Thomas had noted the limitations of having to work in with the Kirks building, which could not be drastically altered because of its heritage status.

"We're starting from scratch here so it will feel very different," Thomas said. "We're introducing a lot of new brands into [our Australian] stores, a lot of which we are planning for this store as well so we're bringing some edits of that here.

"We're going to put our absolute best foot forward and bring in a curation of the best women's, kids, fashion and accessories, home and beauty all brought together specifically for this market."

Artist's impression of the new Westfield Development in Newmarket, which will feature David Jones.
Artist's impression of the new Westfield Development in Newmarket, which will feature David Jones.

Despite promising several international brands not currently available in New Zealand, Thomas was keeping quiet on which names Kiwis could expect to see.

With the larger floor space of the Newmarket site, however, it was likely that a larger product range would be on offer and most of the brands sold in the old Kirks building would also be available in Auckland, said Thomas.

For its Wellington opening, the department store giant brought a selection of retailers previously only available in boutiques in New Zealand, including 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 knowledge in Auckland through its Country Road brand, purchased a few years ago.

Thomas said this information on the New Zealand market had been invaluable.
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 a statement, managing director Andrew Caughey said the company "looks forward to welcoming David Jones to its neighbourhood", despite the added competition.

"It'll be a wonderful thing for Newmarket to have such revered retail names within walking distance of each other and will draw back thousands of shoppers to the area," Caughey said, adding that it was a vote of confidence in the department store format.

Chris Wilkinson said the company was also likely to attract other major retailers and significantly boost the centre as a whole.

"Now would be a good time for other stakeholders in Newmarket to consider the future.

The new Westfield will become such a draw it could become 'its own island' with consumers rarely venturing outside its confines, as has happened in other areas these malls have established," Wilkinson said.

"The area needs to further strengthen its fashion appeal, further develop its character and become a hospitality destination to rival Ponsonby in order to retain spending and goodwill."

David Jones has struggled in the tough Australian retail industry in recent years, with the company writing down A$712m due to an impairment charge.

This equated to a third of the US $2.2 billion figure paid by South African-owned Woolworths for the business.