The heart and soul of David Jones

DavidJonesEarlier this week, Peter James Ryan wrote an interesting column, “Is David Jones losing its soul?” This prompted me to research the meaning of soul. Peter commented that it is most important to never risk losing your soul unless that soul is utterly and irreparably corrupted. He does not believe that is the case with DJs.

Buddhism teaches that all things are in a constant state of flux: all is changing, and no permanent state exists by itself. This applies to anything in the cosmos and means an ever-changing entity.

If you accept this, then the soul of David Jones must change over time and if it doesn’t, they will be in big trouble. Look at the changes that have taken place in the past few years. Take the Mark McInnes fiasco in 2010 when he was sued for $37 million and then let go. He was one of the best CEOs that DJs had ever had and the incompetent board allowed the matter to get quite out of hand. This was followed by more debacles and the subsequent takeover of DJ’s by Woolworths, South Africa. Since then it has all been relatively good news and here are a few headlines.

  • Nov 18, 2015: David Jones posts best sales growth in 15 years
  • David Jones results 2016: $168 million pre-tax profits, sales up 8.4 per cent
  • Feb 11, 2016: David Jones’ strong performance also reflects improved sales results across the entire department store sector.

While I agree wholeheartedly with Peter that soul is important, I believe it is essential that it changes and the move to Melbourne will indeed change the DJ soul. If the recent past performance is anything to go by, the profitability of DJ’s will grow and be sustainable.

Peter says that the problem is that most people do not understand what a department store really is and most disconcertingly that includes the very people who invest in them.

Having spent a good part of my retail career running various department stores and department store groups in various countries, I maintain that if the soul of a department store doesn’t change, the heart will die. If you go back to the early 1960’s, Australia had 27 department store groups. Today depending on how you classify them, we have three.

Do these names ring a bell? Fosseys, Gowings, Grace Brothers, Mark Foy’s, Waltons, John Martins, McDonald & East, Daimuru, Buckley & Nunn and so the list goes on – in any country you care to choose.

Yes, the move to Melbourne and the loss of a huge amount of talent that has declined to relocate, will undoubtedly impact. But let’s face it. Melbourne is the hub of retail and long term it will be a great move for DJ’s.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at or 0414 631 702


1 comment

  1. PD posted on March 10, 2017

    Excellent article, agree on the comment regarding Mark McInnes, how many of the Board are actually still there? who knows where the business would be if he was still at the helm. In a much better place I would say, just ask the shareholders!

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