It's the out-of-place, luxury sunglasses and perfume shop everyone sees when driving through Bulls. But how did it get there?

When Robert Zöhs started his career selling luxury brands, the last place he expected to end up was in the Rangitīkei.

Zöhs is an expert in perfume and sunglasses sales, and runs Designer Direct with business partner, Michael Adams.

Previously the business was on Broadway, in Newmarket, Auckland.


"We were up in Auckland for 12 years and our lease expired and we couldn't renew it because they were knocking the building down," Zöhs said.

Thinking out of the box they decided to look further afield than Auckland, and after some careful feasibility studies they found a building on the corner of two state highways.

All they had to do was stop traffic, which they do, with many billboards dotted along the roads.

And there's no shortage of traffic. According to the NZTA, more than 10,000 vehicles travel daily through the small town that sits on the intersection of SH1 and SH3.

Look familiar? Yes it's THAT shop in Bulls. Photo / Georgie Ormond
Look familiar? Yes it's THAT shop in Bulls. Photo / Georgie Ormond

And while it seemed an unlikely spot for a Newmarket store, the numbers stacked up. Years later and business is booming. Serengeti sunglasses are among their best sellers.

"Two state highways - we have a lot of drivers and of course they are known as the worlds best driving glasses," Zöhs said, ever the salesman.

"We bring these directly from Europe. We've got one supplier in Rome and another in Paris and it took us about three years to come up with a supplier that would allow us to beat the competition's prices, and that was the only way that Michael wanted to do it."

At times it's like a museum, with a vast range of products including unusual perfumes made for Napoleon, the Prince of Wales, and Jackie Onassis on her 40th anniversary to Aristotle Onassis.


"The glass bottle is made from the black sand from the beach on the Greek island that he owned and on which they were married ..." Zöhs is happy to play museum guide.

"Another, made for Grace Kelly. It's very simple, it's the four flowers out of her bouquet and some ambergris."

For Zöhs, perfume has been in the air from a young age.

"There wasn't a huge variety around for blokes at that stage let alone young ones like I was.

"I remember Blue Stratus! I was 10 or something and I put far too much on, and I remember my grandfather telling me that I smelt like the pox doctors clerk. That was my introduction to fragrances."

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