David Jones’ turnaround strategy buds as conditions normalise

h international owner Woolworths Holding putting the blame on the lockdown restrictions still in place at the beginning of the year.

Conversely, the business’ online sales jumped 28.7 per cent, making up almost 23 per cent of the business’ total turnover.

Additionally, Country Road Group performed well. Sales grew 3.1 per cent over the course of the year off the back of strong sales in Country Road, Trenery and Politix. Adjusted operating profit fell 22.3 per cent, however, due to a slimmer profit margin.

David Jones chief executive Scott Fyfe told Inside Retail that despite the slow start to the year, foot traffic across its stores is improving steadily. 

“It’s still not back at the levels of FY19, but customers are coming back and are enjoying our new assortment and services. It’s a really great result,” Fyfe said. 

And, with the support of the new leadership team he’s put in place, Fyfe is confident that David Jones has a new lease on life.

A four-pronged approach

The business’ new approach is built on four key principles according to Fyfe: Knowing your customers, delivering a strong omnichannel experience, ensuring seamless service, and future-proofing the business’ capabilities. 

The first principle, knowing your customers, is incredibly important to a luxury department store business like David Jones, Fyfe said. 

“We’ve got a relatively low customer base, so we want to attract, inspire and retain our customers,” Fyfe said. The way David Jones intends on doing that is by executing on the remaining principles.

“[We’re an] omnichannel retailer of world-class brands, and we’ve seen really strong momentum in women’s and men’s fashion, footwear and accessories, home and kids, and beauty.

“We’ve been really focused on what we need to do and we’re showing really good progress there.”

Additionally, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the business has improved its online offer substantially, with a far greater range and experience bringing over 107 million customers to the website last year. 

“The final bit is building our capabilities. We want David Jones to be a service-led business, and to make sure that we’ve got the right people, talent and capability in the business [moving forward],” Fyfe said. 

Flower power

On Thursday, the business launched its 2022 Flower Show — an underwater themed experience at its Elizabeth Street store which continues David Jones’ push into experiential retail. 

Following the launch of the business’ Spring/Summer collection, which brought together 400 customers at a set of fashion shows designed to introduce the season’s clothing and which is now touring stores around the country, David Jones is inviting its customers to come and unwind at its nine-storey flagship surrounded by a number of new blooms.

“Customers, more than ever, are craving human interaction,” said David Jones’ director of omnichannel Kate Bergin told Inside Retail

“The immersive and experiential side of retail is our point of difference, and we’re able to offer that because of the size of our stores. We’re focused on experiential retail and the services we can provide.”

According to Bergin, David Jones tends to see foot traffic spike by around 30 per cent during its intermittent events, providing a raft of new customers. In anticipation of this, the business will have attendants across its flagship that will be focusing on directing customers to where they want to go in an effort to maximise the sales opportunity. 

And, for the first time in several years, the Flower Show will be extended to the business’ Bourke Street store in October.

“It’ll be great to be able to offer the event across our two flagships,” said Bergin. 

Looking forward

However, with David Jones tending to cater to weather consumers, having positioned itself in the luxury and premium end of the department store space, Fyfe said he is well aware that customers will be facing financial headwinds in the months to come. 

“We’re really clear about there being headwinds, there have been for the last few years, but we’re overcoming some of these,” Fyfe said. 

“We’re really confident about what lies ahead for David Jones, particularly as we turn to Christmas – this year will give us the best run-in we’ve had to Christmas in the last three years.

“We’ve got a consistent plan about how we will celebrate these events with our customers. We’ve got lots in flight.”

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