EXCLUSIVE: David Jones Tipped To Be Running Ruler Over Harris Farm Markets
The Woolworths SA owned retailer David Jones is believed to be in discussions to buy the Harris Farm Markets chain of food stores.
According to sources both retailers have held discussions with a deal tipped to be in the making.
David Jones management believe that Australian consumers are becoming increasingly willing to pay a premium for “quality” food similar to what Harris Farm are currently selling.
ChannelNews understands that the model that David Jones are looking to replicate in Australia is the UK Waitrose model, with the Company also looking to sell small food appliances used for cooking at their new premium food locations which will sell also sell combination of precooked foods, meats gourmet foods, and organic fresh food.
“People these days want real food and there’s a big movement towards real food, from farm to table,” said Jones the Grocer chief executive Mark Watson. “As people get more educated about food there’s definitely room [for more].”
Mr Watson said Jones the Grocer, which opened its first store in Sydney’s Woollahra in 1996, was not surprised to hear that South African food and clothing retailer Woolworths Holdings had appointed one of its executives to revamp David Jones’ ageing food halls and investigate opening a chain of upmarket food stores.
Former David Jones chief executive Peter Wilkinson agreed, saying Australian consumers had a strong appetite for high-quality premium food where the provenance was indisputable and customers were able to track the entire supply chain.
“There’s no doubt there’s been a material emergence of people that care deeply about what they’re eating – I think Australia is ready for it,” Mr Wilkinson said.
Mr Wilkinson, who was chief executive of David Jones for seven years, ultimately lost his job after a failed foray into gourmet food that cost the department store chain $120 million between 2000 and 2003.