Wollongong will be the second Australian city to road test David Jones’ new “food journey”, which is part of a $100 million upgrade of the department store’s food business over the next three years.
By August, DJs will open a new-look food hall at Westfield Bondi Junction, followed by a food market in the under-construction store at the former Myer premises in Wollongong Central.
Then in November, Melbourne’s Bourke Street store will have its food area refreshed, before a series of stand-alone food shops are rolled out across the country.
Late last year, David Jones’ regional manager Jason James confirmed an “expanded food offering” would play a big part in the Wollongong revamp.
In addition to a retail food market, the plans will include an eatery which opens out onto Globe Lane from the former premises of local bar His Boy Elroy.
Work on the Wollongong store – and GPT’s ageing southern Keira Street building – has been underway since last year and is due to open before the end of the year.
Upgrades include new escalators, better lighting and a timber fitout that better matches the more modern parts of the mall.
Explaining the new strategy, David Jones' chief executive John Dixon said food provided a "halo" effect to bring in shoppers who could eat, then browse through the rest of the store.
He said it was one of the biggest challenges ahead for the business, given that as much as $245 million is spent daily on food, according to surveys of shoppers undertaken by David Jones in its own stores.
"We will be offering more private label David Jones products, as well as sourcing the best quality Australian food,” Mr Dixon said.
David Jones has engaged chef Neil Perry to work on the food offerings, which include Tasmanian beef, Canberra wine and ham from Marrickville's Black Forest.
There will be ranges of olive oils, antipasto and cheese, along with cakes and sweet snacks. Mr Dixon said the range of products, with pre-cut vegetables and marinated meats and pasta sauces, will allow people to have a meal ready within 15 minutes of getting home.
"We have looked at all the best food outlets in the world including Eataly, La Place in Holland and Marks & Spencer, and wrapped them all up in our new offerings.”