Upmarket Australian department store David Jones this morning opened its first Auckland store, alongside the second stage of Westfield Newmarket shopping mall.
Hundreds of people turned up for the opening, with shoppers queued outside of the store ahead of doors opening at 9am.
Along with David Jones, the second stage of the Auckland mega-mall opened, owned by ASX-listed Scentre Group, with 30 new retailers opening their doors for the first time, including new-to-market retailer Doc Marten, Swanndri, and four new dining concepts.
David Jones, and supermarket Countdown which also opened today, are considered anchor stores for the site and are expected to be main drawcards for Auckland shoppers. This is the final stage of opening for Westfield Newmarket, which cost $790 million to develop.
David Jones's 7000sq m store - the biggest the retailer is prepared to open in the market - will sell more than 400 international, Kiwi and Australian high-end brands including Carla Zampatti, La Mer, Grown Alchemist, Kenzo, and emerging New Zealand brands Wynn Hamlyn and Harris Tapper.
• David Jones to open Auckland Newmarket store in November
• Mega-mall Westfield Newmarket opens doors after 18 months under construction
• Scentre Group opens highly-anticipated rooftop dining terrace at Westfield Newmarket
• David Jones opens new Wellington store
Key features of the store include personal shopping and VIP suites, by-appointment beauty treatment rooms and Gucci's first beauty kiosk.
Ian Moir, chief executive of David Jones, said the department store retailer had invested "tens of millions of dollars" in the store, though nothing close to the A$200m it spent on its Elizabeth St store in Sydney.
Moir said he believed the Auckland store would "do incredibly well" in the luxury and beauty categories. "Wellington is an important market, and luxury has done well for us, but I think luxury here is going to do better here, just because it is a bigger market," the former Australian rugby league player told the Herald.
"The Auckland customer is very trend-aware - they know their brands, know their fashion. The store will appeal to the Chinese tourist and the Asian market here. Beauty is going to be about 30 per cent of our business [revenue] here."
David Jones first expanded into New Zealand in July 2016 with the opening of its Wellington store. The Auckland department store has been more than three years in the making. It had originally planned to enter the market in Auckland but due to real estate available launched in Wellington.
The Wellington site, which once housed the Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, is slightly bigger than the Auckland store, though Moir said he expected the Auckland store to "trade better" than the Wellington location.
Moir said David Jones had no plans to open more stores in New Zealand, but was open to the idea - depending on how the Auckland store was received. "New Zealand will be an important market for us, I think this [store] will really work.
"It makes such a big difference having scale - it makes it more cost-effective, distribution is easy, all sorts of economic benefits as soon as you go to scale so we're excited we're opening this, on top of Wellington, and let's see how successful this is and then on the back of that we'll think after that."
The retail chain has invested heavily in its one-on-one personal shopping offering, which had proved successful in translating into sales, Moir said. "It resonates with the top-end David Jones customer. If I look at how popular it is in Australia, we're giving a bigger and bigger commitment to this. People love that personalised service and they can spend big amounts of money in one or two hours."
Paul Gardner, regional manager for Scentre Group's Westfield Newmarket development, said David Jones would be a drawcard for the centre.
"David Jones has attracted a lot of excitement in the market no doubt. There's been a lot of excitement from customers asking when is David Jones going to open," Gardner said.
"There's also a lot of people in the community that are very excited about Countdown supermarket opening."
Westfield Newmarket will open its luxury shopping precinct housing more than 10 brands next year. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Canada Goose are expected to open stores in the precinct, though no names or dates have been announced.
Other retailers set to open stores in the second Westfield Newmarket site tomorrow include Mecca, Maje, Sandro, Witchery, Asian supermarket Tai Ping, Cinderella Beauty, Country Road and menswear brand Politix.
Event Cinemas will open a complex in the centre in January. H&M will open its two-level store in the mall on December 12.