Done deal: Queenstown's H&J Smith to close in November
It is now confirmed, a popular southern department store will close its Queenstown doors in November.
After a limited period of consultation H&J Smith has announced its last day of trading for its Remarkables Park store will be November 18.
On that day, its 100-year-old flagship Invercargill store will also close - the end of an era for a homegrown brand that started 123 years ago.
On May 17, the business kicked off a four-week consultation process on the proposed closures, before reaching this final decision.
In a statement today, H&J Smith Group managing director Jason Smith says while plenty of staff and customers did have their say "in the end...it was clear our proposal to call time on the department store business is the right decision the H&J Smith group".
Its view: department stores will not be the way people are shopping into the future.
Mr Smith says the company continues to work closely with staff members who will be impacted by the closures.
“We know this is difficult news for our staff and community. Supporting our team through this challenging time remains our top priority."
Queenstown's Mitre10 MEGA, also owned by the group, remains unaffected by this announcement and will continue to operate as usual.
The company says there have been big changes to the retail sector making it tougher for independent retailers to operate.
New Zealand only has three independent department store brands remaining – H&J Smith, Ballantynes, and Smith & Caughey.
"However, H&J Smith operates from a much smaller region than either Ballantynes or Smith & Caughey," the company says.
"They have a trading catchment of more than one million to call upon versus our 80,000."
Since 2020, the group has already reduced its retail footprint, ditching department stores in Dunedin, Mosgiel, Balclutha and Te Anau.
For now, there is no information about the future of the downtown Invercargill building that houses the store and requires significant remediations to help it meet national building standards.
“Our priority has been our people and determining the future of the business. It’s only now that it’s appropriate for us to discuss potential uses for the building and site. We feel very strongly, however, that the community has an opportunity to assist in the creation of a new vision for this space,” Mr Smith says.
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