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DJs' Foodhall to close

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The David Jones Foodhall in Rundle Mall will close its doors on Friday, January 24.

The department store told staff last week and is in negotiations on redundancies and redeployment and is unable to guarantee future employment

The Foodhall, a key part of the DJ’s brand, is one of six around Australia in David Jones’ capital city CBD stores – but Adelaide’s is the only one marked for closure.

Specialising in gourmet food and wine and a range of hard-to-get imported foods, it had been seen by retail analysts as an important part of the David Jones upmarket brand.

The Foodhall became a favourite haunt of Adelaide food lovers in the 1980s when it opened in the basement of DJ’s old Rundle Mall store, badged as “Food Glorious Food”. As well as meats, seafood, cheeses, wine, bakery goods and other gourmet foods, the Foodhall was a place to grab a meal and a coffee or glass of wine. The tradition continued in the current basement location when DJs rebuilt.

“We were told last week it was closing, but we don’t know yet whether we still have a job,” one retail assistant told InDaily.

“I don’t know if I’ll be sitting on the beach on Australia Day or working in one of the other stores such as Marion or West Lakes.”

A David Jones spokesperson today confirmed the closure.

“The floor space currently occupied by the Foodhall will be allocated to a new Rose Clinic offering free breast screening services for customers, an expanded Shoe category and an expanded Intimate Apparel category,” the spokesperson said.

“Based on customer feedback requesting a more extensive Shoe and Intimate Apparel offering at DJs we are closing the Foodhall and at this stage we do not have plans to open a new Foodhall in Adelaide.

“The reason for this being the limited amount of retail space we have in Adelaide.

“The challenge we have in Adelaide is to  provide customers with the brands and categories they want within the confines of the retail space we have available in Adelaide.”

The company said it is now “arranging one on one meetings with each of our employees to discuss the impacts on them personally”.

A coffee shop in the centre of the Foodhall is moving to the newly opened Rundle Place, its staff said.

The decision was made some months ago, prompting a staff recruitment freeze as the department store looked for vacancies to arise by natural attrition, making them available for Foodhall staff left out of work.

Union representatives have been in discussions with David Jones since early January.

“Our focus at this point is to negotiate relocation for staff within the store, or transfer to one of the other DJs’ stores and then redundancy as a last resport,” Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees spokesman Peter Malinauskas told InDaily.

“We had noticed that staff recruitment had slowed; but that was consistent with other retailers in the CBD.

“It hasn’t been unique to David Jones.

“We are still negotiating with the company on behalf of affected staff.”

Stock is being cleared out this week with discounts from 30 to 70 per cent.

The department store chain’s chief executive officer Paul Zahra outlined plans for a refurbishment of the Adelaide store in his address to shareholders at the company annual general meeting last November.

“In financial year 2014 we will commence the refurbishment of our Adelaide Central Plaza store,” he said.

Last year he told media the refurbishment would “position David Jones as the first destination for style in South Australia”.

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