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Rockingham a no go for DJs

RETAIL giant David Jones has decided against including the Rockingham Aherns store in its national department store empire.

The store, which is only 1500sqm, will not be rebranded with the four other stores and will instead remain as an Aherns until its lease at the Rockingham City Shopping Centre expires in 2004.

Stores director Don Grover said it was the size and catchment area that ultimately determined the company’s decision.

“The store is substantially smaller than our average floorplates, coupled with the fact that the catchment area is significantly lower in both size and density than preferable for our strategic model,” he said.

Mr Grover said the average David Jones store was about 11,000sqm and the company liked to have a “few hundred thousand” people within a short radius.

“What we will now do is trade as Aherns and market that business locally,” Mr Grover said.

“It will still be a department store and there will be some small changes to the merchandise mix but it will remain in a similar position to what it is today.”

Ian Spackman, retail asset manager of Colonial First State, which owns

Rockingham City Shopping Centre, said the announcement had not been totally unexpected.

Colonial First State now was considering a number of options for a new tenant but, as Aherns would remain in place until 2004, there was no rush, he said.

“We are now looking at all our options. We really can’t say what category of store we would like to put in there,” Mr Spackman said.

“We have a few years before we have to replace them and we will wait because what we are thinking is appropriate today may not be appropriate in a few years’ time.”

Harris Scarfe had previously signalled it could be interested in taking over the lease, however that possibility is now unlikely.

The future of another small WA David Jones store, in Claremont, is much rosier.

David Jones managing director and chief executive Peter Wilkinson has signalled interest in creating “petit department stores” modelled on the successful Claremont Aherns.

“We have really learned a lot in acquiring the Claremont store. We had no idea how successful a small store could be,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“It is very upmarket and well-positioned … the brands are more up scale and it is much more apparel based.

“If we can come to terms with the store, if it works as a David Jones, then we will look at doing stores of that size in other states.”

The Claremont store has just 4000sqm of floorspace, split over two separate locations, although an expansion is planned.

“Normally if we choose to open a store we like to have much more space because that allows us to put in our full lines and a modest amount of food,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“I think we can come up with a petit department store concept for other states, but that is still in the planning phase.”

p Peter Wilkinson is speaking at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce today.

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