The Story of David Jones

Our first store opened in Sydney in 1838 by David Jones, a Welsh merchant, with a mission to sell ‘the best and most exclusive goods’. Since then, we have grown to 35 stores, two warehouse outlets and David Jones Online - offering customers the finest brands across fashion, beauty and home. With our rich heritage, we are not only Australia’s oldest department store, but also the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name.


The Beginning of David Jones & Co. (1838 – 1887)

Just 50 years after the founding of the Colony, Mr. David Jones, a Welsh-born immigrant, opened "large and commodious premises" on the corner of George and Barrack Streets on 24 May 1838.

Mr. Jones’ mission was to sell "the best and most exclusive goods" and to carry "stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large." 

The founding store’s location on the main artery of the new town, opposite the General Post Office, was a brilliant choice and the small store prospered. David Jones and Co. received patronage from not only the Sydney gentry, but also the country settlers. Everyone flocked to the store to buy buckskins, ginghams, waistcoat fabrics, silks and cotton tick.

David Jones eventually retired and left the management of the store to his business partners. Unfortunately, the store faced difficulties and the assets of David Jones were assigned to Trustees. He came back out of retirement, borrowed heavily, and with the help of new partners and his son Edward Lloyd Jones, managed to recreate the store's success.

Edward Lloyd Jones had travelled widely overseas, and brought back to Sydney new ideas in retailing, including the European concept of a "department" store.

The First Australian Department Store Grows (1887 – 1919)

David Jones went on to rebuild the George Street store in 1887. The building boasted the city's first hydraulic lift, transporting astonished customers almost magically through the store. The new premises allowed the retailer to expand and to include furniture and furnishings. New designs and imports surprised and delighted eager customers. In 1890, David Jones released its first catalogue and the mail order department sent parcels to all corners of Australia.

The store attracted the most eminent citizens, from nobilities such as King Kackumbo of Fiji and King George of Tonga and his Queen Consort.

David Jones contemplated its reliance on imports and for the first time in its history invested significantly in local design and manufacture. David Jones opened the Marlborough Street factory - the largest of its kind in Australia - manufacturing a huge variety of goods from clothing to cabin trunks.

In 1906, David Jones became a public company and in 1920 it was listed on the stock exchange.


The New Flagship is Born (1920s)

In the 1920’s, David Jones Limited, now a public company, announced plans to build another city store. A block of land had been purchased on Market Street between Elizabeth street and Castlereagh street. The decision to move was considered madness by many as the area was considered remote from the city's retail centre.

Charles Lloyd Jones Junior now succeeded his brother Edward as chairman of David Jones Limited. He also proved to be a visionary, and undertook the building of the new Elizabeth Street store.

When it opened in 1927, this grand department store, which remains the flagship of the company to this day, single-handedly moved the hub of Sydney's retailing to Hyde Park.


Trading Continues During Wartime (1938 - 1945)

To mark the store's 100th anniversary, another store on Market Street was opened by the Prime Minister 'Billy' Hughes in 1938. But soon afterwards the Second World War broke out and the new store became occupied by the Ministry of Munitions.

During World War II David Jones continued trading, despite the rations, the hard times and the loss of staff to the Armed Forces. A large section of the George Street store was converted into a Club for those serving in the forces.



Paris Arrives in Sydney (1947)

David Jones brought Sydney out of the post-war doldrums with Paris-style fashion parades in 1947. Pierre Balmain had the women of Sydney enthralled, and one year later, David Jones brought the collection of Christian Dior's famous 'New Look' to Sydney, the first time Dior had ever shown outside Paris.

The Visit of the Queen (1954)

In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to step foot on Australian soil. The Great Restaurant on the 7th Floor of David Jones Elizabeth Street was chosen as the venue for a State Banquet in her honour.

Fashion For All (1955 – 1985)

The years that followed marked a period of major expansion for David Jones Limited. The company grew from 3 to eight stores by 1959, and in the next 20 years would expand to Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia, creating a national retail chain which today numbers 36 stores. In 1982, David Jones bought Melbourne department store, Buckley & Nunn, including its properties on Bourke Street. The first David Jones store in Melbourne opened that same year. Three years later, in 1985, David Jones acquired Adelaide department store John Martins, but operated it as a separate entity to the more upmarket David Jones-branded store.

Refurbishments in the '80s to the Elizabeth Street store included the creation of David Jones on Seven, a designer boutique on the top floor where the world's best fashion labels could be found. In addition, Food, Glorious Food was established on the Lower Ground Floor of Market Street, with a fairy-tale array of fresh and gourmet foods. 


House of Brands

The House of Brands (1990s)

While the business of retailing changed in many ways, David Jones maintained its commitment to world-class service which included the introduction of the loyalty programme and the introduction of new world renowned brands. Its beautiful stores continued to be refurbished while five new stores were opened, two in New South Wales and three interstate.

Building a World-class Retail Brand (2000s)

The new decade began with David Jones re-entering the Western Australian market, introducing the David Jones Shareholder Rewards Program and launching the David Jones website.

David Jones was one of the first stores to have ambassadors representing its brand. Maureen Duval was the David Jones ambassador for 16 years and American model Lauren Hutton from 1997 to 2001. In 2001, David Jones appointed Megan Gale as an ambassador and featured her in marketing campaigns and catalogues shoots. The brand’s connection with Australian customers continued to strengthen when in 2008, David Jones signed Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr as Fashion Ambassador.

Throughout the decade, David Jones invested in the standard of visual merchandising and service in its stores. Huge refurbishment projects included the flagship Elizabeth Street, Market Street and Bourke Street Mall stores. In 2000, the reconstructed store at Adelaide Central Plaza won a prestigious international award as the best newly completed store in the world.

In 2008, David Jones chose American Express to produce its general purpose card, offering one of the most generous storecard incentives in the market.


2010 and Beyond

Starting in 2010, the company reinvested in premium instore services such as Personal Shopping and Bridal on Seven at Elizabeth Street, re-established its digital presence, formed new strategic partnerships, and crafted its Future Direction as an Omni Channel Retailer. 

It continued to be at the forefront of the market by signing an exclusive agreement with surf brands Quiksilver and Roxy. It was the first time the brands were made available in a department store.

The David Jones brand continues to play a central role as an influential retailer in fashion, beauty and home today. With a truly aspirational take on our lifestyle, it connects us with the best Australian and international designers in the world.  


aboutDJs

The 175th Year (2013)

David Jones’s 175th anniversary is a tremendous milestone. The company, the oldest department store in Australia and one of the oldest in the world, is by any standards remarkable. The iconic department store began in 1838 when maverick retailer David Jones threw open the doors of his first shop in Sydney. When Charles Lloyd Jones took over in 1920, he launched the iconic Elizabeth Street store taking inspiration from the department stores in London and New York. He quoted 'I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted a stunner - big, shining, lovely to every last detail'.
One hundred and seventy-five years later the business that bears it's original name has stores across the country. David Jones is synonymous with style and progress. It champions top designers, brought French high fashion to post-war Australia with Dior and Balmain, and has pioneered many advances in retail from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. With a truly vibrant place of heritage and of heart, it’s easy to agree, David Jones is a shopping destination like no other.

In March 2013, David Jones revealed a new era of talent by appointing internationally renowned Australian model Jessica Gomes as the department store's new Fashion Ambassador.
Jessica joins David Jones long-time Brand Ambassador, Megan Gale, Menswear Ambassador, Jason Dundas, new youth Ambassador, Montana Cox, and racing ambassadors Gai Waterhouse and Emma Freedman as representatives of the department store.