David Jones hopes the $200 million redevelopment of its Sydney flagship store gets off on the right foot, with an entire floor dedicated to luxury shoes.
The seventh floor of David Jones’ Elizabeth Street department store will be filled with shoes from boutique brands including Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci – and overlooked by a champagne and dining bar.
With South African owner Woolworths having written down the value of David Jones by $712.5 million earlier this year, the retailer is hoping the refit – which is scheduled for completion in September – can boost flagging sales and bring in big-spending tourists.
David Jones chief executive David Thomas said the redevelopment was a large investment given the state of retail sales, but was confident Woolworths would see a return.
‘The overall investment is predicated on a return and we’re very confident we’ll make a good return out of creating an experience Sydneysiders and Australians haven’t seen before,’ Mr Thomas said.
The shift comes as rival Myer faces increasing pressure from its chief stakeholder, and retail veteran, Solomon Lew, to overhaul its board and strategy.
Mr Lew, the chairman of Premier Investments, has repeatedly attacked Myer’s board for its over-reliance on heavy discounts and more accessible brands.
Mr Thomas said the shift by David Jones towards high-end brands was an effort to reposition as a destination experience and to lure tourist dollars.
‘When you think of London and Selfridges, New York and Le Bon Marche or Galaries Lafayete in Paris, great department stores that are great tourist destinations, we want to be that place in Sydney,’ he said.
The Elizabeth Street redevelopment will expand the store to 12 levels, and a David Jones spokesperson said the number of employees in the store is expected to increase from 1200, though could not say to how many.