Queen St is set to welcome back New Zealand retailer Farmers on Thursday with the opening of the refurbished store aiming to impress inner-city customers.
The retailer takes over the former Whitcoulls store, which has moved into the Little High St arcade.
Interior designer Robbie McMillan says that in contrast with other Farmers stores, he has tried to keep as much of the natural lighting as possible - the marble entrance opens up to a vaulted two-storey atrium, with panelled pillars and original windows.
"When we first came in, there was a really light and airy feel on [the top floor] and that was something we really wanted to keep, and build on," Mr McMillan said. "Generally in a Farmers store if there's a window we'll cover it to get the stock up, but this Farmers has an amazing opportunity with all of the windows for people walking past to look up and see into the store."
The previous Farmers Queen St store closed last year at the end of a long-term lease, and chief executive Rod McDermott said the new store would have more of a boutique brand offering compared with more traditional Farmers stores.
"Farmers Queen St is like no other Farmers you will have ever seen," he said. "The entire focus of the store layout has been to deliver the most pleasant and convenient shopping experience to our customers."
McDermott said the store had been designed to specifically cater to its inner-city customers, offering some of the company's more boutique brands, and products that professionals and students might want. This included the widest range of hosiery offered at any Farmers, and a wide range of beauty and accessories on the ground floor.
McMillan said the layout had been planned to allow customers to see as much of the store as possible when they walked in. "We've kept our vision lines as clear as possible because it is a limited range and customers will generally be here in their lunch hour, so they want to see what's available straight away," he said.
McDermott said the aim was to provide a department store that reflected international trends. Design features include a chandelier made of glass sails - a nod to the city of sails - as well as a pair of Swarovski crystal mannequins by the escalators.
The 19m-tall Santa was also returning to its home on top of the building, and would be up by Friday.
• Designed by architect John Currie in 1899
• Opened as a department store by John Court in 1910
• In 1916, John Court added three more storeys in the same Victorian Italianate style
• Whitcoulls took over the first three levels in the late 1970s
• The upper three levels became apartments
• Farmers took over in 2015, and Whitcoulls moved next door.