Dick Smith moves into David Jones



news Consumer electronics retailer Dick Smith has revealed it will take over the electronics retail operations of some 30 David Jons stores around Australia from October, as the troubled company’s new private equity owners continue to push to rehabilitate its operations.

Dick Smith was previously owned by Woolworths, but went through a significant decline in its operations. In September last year it was bought by Australian private equity firm Anchorage Capital, with the firm aiming to rejuvenate the ailing retailer. This morning, as the latest step in that revitalisation initiative, Dick Smith today revealed it had entered into what it described as a “Retail Brand Management Agreement” (RBMA) with David Jones, in what it said was an Australian first.
The RBMA allows Dick Smith to stretch its network of stores, with Dick Smith operating the electronics category in 30 David Jones stores throughout Australia under the banner ‘David Jones Electronics Powered by Dick Smith’, from 1 October, 2013. Dick Smith has some 326 existing stores across Australia and New Zealand, having recently opened Lilydale in VIC and Sydney Central in NSW. Innaloo Westfield in WA is also opening today with an additional 14 stores planned for 2014.
Dick Smith CEO for Australia and New Zealand, Nick Abboud said: “The RBMA entered into with David Jones is the next step in establishing ourselves as a major player in the market and directly links back to our business strategy to be the leading consumer electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand. Forming strategic partnerships with like-minded companies is integral to our growth strategy. We couldn’t think of a better retailer to align ourselves with than David Jones, one of Australia’s most established and iconic brands.”
“It’s a win-win for both companies. Dick Smith is expanding its network and reaching a wider, high-end customer base, while David Jones is increasing its product and services offering for its customers. It also strengthens Dick Smith’s buying power, which in turn allows for more competitive prices for customers across both stores.”
David Jones customers will benefit from more products than they’ve had access to before, such as the Amazon Kindle, as well as the opportunity to purchase mobile phones in store for the first time. The new ‘David Jones Electronics Powered by Dick Smith’ concept areas will have a strong focus on accessories, and will also range higher-end, more aspirational technology to suit the David Jones customer demographic. Dick Smith will continue to roll-out its branded Samsung, Sony and Apple ‘store-in-store’ concepts within the David Jones stores to ensure delivery of the best brands and the best customer service.
David Jones CEO and Managing Director Paul Zahra said, “We look forward to teaming with such a well-established Australian brand such as Dick Smith. Our partnership will deliver many benefits for our customers including a broader range of Electronics products and ancillary services at more competitive prices in a seamless shopping experience for our customers. There is great potential for Sales and Profit upside that both of our companies will benefit from.”
Dick Smith will retain all existing David Jones consumer electronics staff and provide them with the training, support and confidence to succeed in their new roles. Dick Smith has some 4,000 existing staff across Australia and New Zealand.

A great move. David Jones’ electronics category has sucked for a long time, and while Dick Smith’s own offerings typically also suck, they are rapidly getting better. I note the new focus on power products from top-end companies such as Samsung, Apple and Sony. Just as I recommended back in September:

“My first observation is that Dick Smith sells a bunch of worthless crap. When I walk into Dick Smith in my home suburb, I’m immediately confronted by cheap dedicated digital cameras (which nobody buys any more), printers (which nobody buys any more) and external hard drive storage units (which few people buy). What Dick Smith needs to start doing is re-modelling its stores more along the lines of JB Hi-Fi – because that’s where most people in my generation are buying their gear these days.

Put brands such as Apple, Samsung, HTC, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft XBOX and Nintendo front and centre in the store and entice people in. Expand the video game section, and start competing more with EBGames. You only go to EBGames to buy video games, but if people start walking into Dick Smith to buy video games at a decent price, they’ll start buying other things as well while they’re there.

Fundamentally, Dick Smith needs to realise that it’s not an electronics store any more – it’s a gadgets and entertainment store, and gadgets are lifestyle accessories in Australia in 2012. The company needs to start promoting the hell out of things people want to buy.”

Good to see Dick Smith getting back on its feet.

Image credit: Jo Fothergill, Creative Commons


  1. I completely agree with Renai’s statement “My first observation is that Dick Smith sells a bunch of worthless crap”. Though I believe becoming another JB Hi-Fi isnt the right approach as you already have JB Hi-Fi, Tandy, DJ’s, Myer, Harvey Norman and countless others selling with the exact same businesses model and pricing of cheap consumer electronics. I have accompanied friends and family into stores like this a number of times in the past decade and still fail to understand their existence.

    Dick Smith need to go back to their roots – an electonics shop for enthusiasts. A great niche once covered by themselves, Tandy and Radio Shack. I was once a devoted customer of Dick Smith, buying electronic components, manuals, HAM equipment and gadgets every other week.

    In 1995, I moves from the a country town which had a 600 sqm Dick Smith, with no common consumer electronics in sight, to Sydney. I had designed a security system for a high school Design and Technology assignment and needed the components to build it. I had built such a system before at a younger age. I went in to 2 different 70 sqm stores in Sydney, none of which had ANY electronic components before finding the Bondi Junction store close to home.

    I had budgeted $25 for the components but found that not only would I have to order the components, but that the components, mostly 2 cent resistors and 2 dollar IC’s, will set me back some $300-odd dollars.

    I submitted an empty metal box for my project and gave up my dream of becoming an Electronics Engineer. Never purchased a thing from Dick Smith since but have been hoping they revert to the days of old.

    Oh, looks like our hour is up.

    • The “old” Dick Smith has been pretty much been taken over by Jaycar these days.

      Practically the only brand “electronics” store that stocks the same stuff that Dick used to be known for!

      • Altronics, RS Components, there have always been plenty of much better alternatives to DS, particularly when you consider their prices. Then there are online options giving us access to products from Taiwan and Chinese electronics markets, a plethora of high quality components you can’t source from Australia, at a small fraction of the price of lower quality alternatives stocked here.

    • I found it amusing that a specialist electronic store that dick smith markets itself as, didn’t have thermal paste for my CPU

      • They’re not a specialist electronics store, they’re an electronic goods retailer. About five years ago I popped into one for a SATA cable (client was across the road so made sense – I hadn’t been in one since the mid 90’s so had no idea what they actually stocked) and literally none of the staff even knew what I was talking about.

  2. Becoming more like JB-Hifi seems like a bad idea, given that JB-Hifi’s business model is going to be in big trouble in the very near future.

    Take a look at Best Buy stores in the U.S. Over the past decade the amount of space that they’ve dedicated towards music, DVDs, and games has been vastly reduced as U.S. shoppers have been switching to buying these items from online retailers or as electronic files. As decent internet becomes increasingly available in Australia, I think you’re going to see a similar shift in Australian purchasing habits. In my personal case, I’ve barely used my blu-ray player over the last several months as I can get more convenient access to a lot of movies and shows through my Apple TV. Google’s Chromecast will likely be another nail in the coffin for the JB Hifi model of business.

  3. I think this is a good idea as long as they keep to the higher end products. It’ll also hopefully improve what I see as a uncompetitive entertainment division in DJs.

  4. My initial response was, why do DJ customers need or care about whether the in store electronics department is any good? They can just go to an electronics retailer that stocks a larger range at far more reasonable prices. Then I remembered we are talking about DJ customers, who will take a single store shopping experience at any price, if only to avoid the inconvenience of thinking for themselves or mixing with the riff raff.

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