David Jones and Country Road Group

Gray Puksand

David Jones and Country Road Group, owned by parent company Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL), undertook a major commitment to co-locate their headquarters in Melbourne in what is a fresh start for the major retailers. The group secured two adjacent inner-city buildings with a collective floor area of 24,500sqm to house up to 1,700 people. Gray Puksand was engaged to complete the design and refurbishment of Building One for David Jones within eight months, followed by the refurbishment of Building Two for Country Road Group.

David Jones moved their entire 178-year-old retail operation from Sydney to Melbourne with a desire to encourage as many existing staff as possible to make the interstate move. Country Road Group, including the fashion brands Trenery, Witchery, Mimco and Politix, moved from their existing Melbourne headquarters. The challenge was to bring together these two cultures and make them feel part of one large collaborative organisation within a common platform while maintaining a sense of individual identity and autonomy between each brand.

‘The Home of Australian Icons’ became the central theme for the design strategy. It became a way to unite the brands while allowing them to maintain their own identity, and it resonated with staff groups and the executive team. Also imperative was a sense of exposure and connectedness to the brands, with opportunities for flexible, independent and collaborative work spaces. The design includes a mix of open workspaces, allocated desks and offices (that offer physical and visual connection across the workspace), and seamless technology to facilitate in-house meetings and international meetings with WHL.

The design responds with flexibility to the very real need to future-proof the businesses in a retail world. The workplace was designed to be enduring and to allow for a seasonal retail look and feel to be applied across the top of it, so each brand can express itself through the display of garments that change every three months.

Photography: Peter Bennetts and Tatjana Plitt.