David Jones celebrates 180th birthday

Retailer David Jones has reached a world first milestone – its 180th birthday.Amid a challenging retail climate, n department store David Jones has reached a unique milestone – its 180th birthday.

Established in 1838, more than 60 years before became a federation, the department store is older than London’s Harrods, Paris’ Galleries Layefette and US stores Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

David Jones was first a one-storey building located at the corner of George and Barrack Streets in Sydney but has since grown to 45 stores across and New Zealand.

It has survived the Great Depression, the global financial crisis and, more recently, the shift away from bricks-and-mortar stores.

On Wednesday, the South African owner of David Jones fired the head of its n operations, John Dixon, as part of a restructure.

It came just four months after the firm wrote down the value of David Jones by $712.5 million because of weak sales across n retail.

But those representing the department store insist it’s here to stay.

“There’s more of a demand for online shopping now but people still want the experience of going into a store, touching and feeling clothes and trying them on,” model and company ambassador Jessica Gomes told AAP on Thursday.

“One of the things David Jones does so well is the customer experience, everything from their personal shopping to the food courts.

“I remember coming into David Jones when I was younger, getting a chocolate coated strawberry from the food court and trying on all the clothes.”

David Jones has also played a vital role in putting on the map, the Perth-born supermodel said.

In a major coup, the department store hosted the first ever showing of Christian Dior’s collection outside Paris in 1948.

It then held a special tribute to the Parisian designer following his 1957 death.

When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Sydney in February 1954, an official state banquet was held at David Jones’ Elizabeth Street store.

The Queen’s favourite designer, Norman Hartnell, was even appointed a designer at the department store.

Gomes will visit David Jones’ Bourke Street store in Melbourne on Thursday to celebrate the occasion with a birthday cake and a champagne toast, and will be involved with Q&A sessions with customers.

Yet the event is far tamer than the store’s 120th birthday celebrations in 1958, when Eddie the Elephant autographed children’s books with his trunk.

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