“An experience on every floor”: David Jones unveils Bourke Street revamp
David Jones on Wednesday unveiled the final stage of the $50 million revamp of its Bourke Street flagship store in Melbourne, which includes innovative spaces for luxury brands and a world-class sunglasses destination on the ground floor, as well as a pop-up bar on level two. It follows the launch of a new luxury menswear offering in July and new luxury womenswear and accessories floor in April, and brings the three-year refurbishment project – the biggest in the history of the Bourke St
Street store – to a close.
David Jones CEO Scott Fyfe said the retailer drew on lessons learned from the revamp of its Elizabeth Street flagship store in Sydney in 2019 to ensure the Melbourne project was a success.
“Department stores are big boxes, and you’ve got to have an experience on every floor,” he told Inside Retail. “We’ve learned from Sydney, where we’ve got 12 floors – we’ve got five in Melbourne – that we have to have a different activation on every floor. That’s been one major learning for us.”
Another one was around the brand assortment. Like the Sydney store, the Melbourne flagship is firmly focused on the luxury and premium end of the market. The new sunglasses destination is an example of this, offering the latest collections from the likes of Gucci, Chloe, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, New Bottega and Chanel.
“As people have saved money through lockdowns and pandemics, we’re actually seeing people coming back strongly in trading with us,” Fyfe said. “They not only want new products, they want services and experiences. For us, it’s about curating [all] that together.”
Now that David Jones has completed the revamp of its Sydney and Melbourne stores, it’s looking to do the same in other capital cities in Australia.
“We’d love to get into some other capital cities, and that’s what our plan is. We just need to make sure we do it in a prudent way and pick the right locations,” he said.
A good Christmas
David Jones’ investment in luxury and experience comes at a time when many retail experts are warning of tough economic conditions, which are expected to impact consumer spending, but Fyfe is confident that the business is in for a strong Christmas.
“David Jones is the destination for Christmas shopping, so we’re really confident with our new inspiring marketing campaign for Christmas this year, which is great,” he said.
While he said the retailer is preparing itself for the challenges ahead, he is optimistic about the business’ future.
“We’ve got a clear vision and strategy for the next three years – we want to inspire customers like no other. That said, we’re very aware of the economic headwinds that are coming,” he said.
Beyond the new and improved store environment, Fyfe sees initiatives like David Jones’ partnership with pre-loved luxury company Blue Spinach and fashion rental provider GlamCorner, as well as its sustainability initiatives and work with First Nations designers and models, as key to its growth going forward.
“Firstly, from a global point of view, I think retailers need to be responsible, they need to be sustainable, and I truly believe that sustainable retailing can be profitable retailing,” he said.
“When I worked at Marks & Spencer, we put in one of the market-leading and world-leading sustainability projects called Plan A, and I was one of the pioneers on that, so I was taught very early in my career that sustainable retailing is the way forward.”
Fyfe has carried this belief throughout his career in Australia. During his tenure as CEO of Country Road Group, he oversaw the opening of the first store in the southern hemisphere to receive five stars from the Green Star Design Review. And at David Jones, he is leading the elimination of plastic from the business.
“We will save [the equivalent in weight of a] 747 of plastic waste going to landfill, so I’m hugely proud of that. It’s what people expect a brand like David Jones to do,” he said.
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