THE takeover of WA retailing icon Aherns by David Jones has not been a one-way affair, with the national retailer adopting local ideas with great success.Six 22, the Aherns department that stocks casual and classic urban styles for young women, has been retained by David Jones and incorporated into its eastern states stores with great success.According to David Jones WA general manager John Samartzis, the department slotted perfectly into the overall store structure, bridging the gap between children’s wear and mature women’s wear.“It is a Perth initiative, which up until now we have never trialled because we have been focused on mature fashion,” Mr Samartzis said.“The type of stock is very up-to-the-minute fashion, clothing that you would wear for two seasons.“We have already trialled it in a number of stores on the east coast and it has been very successful.”The success, in part, comes from the work of talented Aherns buyers whose services David Jones was keen to use.“We took the buyers and their talent that was here in Perth and sent them to the east coast to set up the Six 22 departments over there,” Mr Samartzis said.The Perth flagship store will also set new standards for David Jones. The template that last year won the Adelaide store the International Design Store of the Year is being further modified to create a more customer-friendly environment.The most noticeable changes will be in the 1500sqm foodhall, where everything from fixtures to the hall layout is being reassessed.“The Adelaide foodhall does not allow pedestrian flow and some things are not quite where they should be. Our customers said it was confusing and they wanted it changed, so we are having a good look at the foodhall template,” Mr Samartzis said.“But that is still 18 months away.”David Jones bought the Aherns department store chain almost two years ago, and in doing so ended one of the State’s best-known family-owned businesses.And though the suburban stores are not the centre of attention, they have not been forgotten, with David Jones committing $6 million to refurbish the stores over a five to six-year period.The Garden City and Karrinyup stores will be given a new home entertainment department and, along with Claremont, a cosmetics hall and a trademark David Jones shirt wall in the menswear department.The future of the Rockingham store however, is still unknown. David Jones general manager merchandising Damian Eales would not commit the brand name to the store.“It is a very complex issue. We will continue to trade because we have a lease there for the next three or four years,” Mr Eales said.“We have not yet decided what name will be put on the store, there are a number of options that we can explore.”Earlier this year it was suggested that, should David Jones choose to move out of the comparatively small 1500sqm Aherns store, Harris Scarfe would step in, but this is now unlikely with the collapse of the Adelaide-based retailer.
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