Department store shares expectations.

“David Jones Food Hall – we think it is a gem and it will be incredibly successful.” These were the words of Woolworths Holdings CEO, Ian Moir to investors at a recent presentation. Is it a sign of the times and future direction of the department store?

Moir continued, “We have opened in Bondi Junction and Wollongong in NSW but we are trialling different formats. We will soon open in Malvern Central in Victoria with a much smaller store, much smaller offering and we will then open a food standalone store in South Yarra in 2019. We want to see what works and what doesn’t work and learn lessons.

“David Jones at Malvern Central is the first concept in Melbourne to launch under the new David Jones food brand. The majority of product within the store is under the new premium David Jones Food label which includes prepared vegetables, salads and fruit, ready meals, ready-to-eat take home options including rotisserie chickens, sandwiches, sushi, ice cream, confectionary and coffee from the Espresso Bar.

“We didn’t know how the customer was going to respond to this. But our customers love the fresh and prepared approach. What has been disappointing, and possibly overdone, is the restaurant side of the business so we need to pull that back. As we continue to expand, it will be much more about food than restaurants. Around 50% of the Bondi Junction store space is taken up by restaurants and it is not performing as well as we expected.”