Fashion Industry Profile: Donna Player – Group Executive of Merchandise, David Jones

By Phoebes Garland, Fashion Initiative


I first met Donna Player at the launch of a menswear label breakfast event for media, which was held at David Jones one morning before the department store was opened for the days trading.  She came across very professional, friendly and slim with an avid love for running, (she has been known to run marathons in her spare time). Highly polished with striking blonde hair, she is also David Jones’ Group Executive of Merchandise, and has been since July 2012. Her retail experience is impressive, with a 30-year retail career which has included Merchandise and Planning General Manager at BIG W and senior management roles across the retail sector, including Grace Bros, Katies and New Zealand manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin.

Donna is taking over the domains of two former group merchandise executives. She is responsible for David Jones, Apparel, Footwear, Accessories, Home and Food merchandise both in-store and online. Donna gives me her insight into the changes in retail, how David Jones is remaining competitive on a global scale, the growth in David Jones and what brands need to know when doing business with David Jones.

David Jones A/W 2014 Collection Launch - Runway

Tell us about your role at David Jones …

I am the Group Executive of Merchandise. I oversee a team of about 40 buyers across all categories available in our business. I oversee inventory management, management of margins and make decisions as to which brands to exit from the business, which brands to sign up and space allocation for brands based on performance.

What impact are the cheaper chain stores from overseas having on department stores in Australia?

It’s actually good for our business because it increases interest in fashion as well as foot traffic into our stores. Most customers cross-shop across specialty stores and department stores.

What are the strongest categories in fashion in David Jones?

Our Australian designer business is very strong as is our Accessories and Footwear business.

Where do you see growth in the future? Age groups, brands and departments?

We see strong growth in the designer end of our business as well as corporate wear, youth fashion, shoes and accessories. Skin care in our Beauty business is another area of growth.

What are the requirements brands need to have in place before they are ‘David Jones ready’?

They need to be a brand our customers want and a brand that fills a gap in our assortment

As it’s a competitive market, for a brand to have longevity in David Jones, what is the minimum sell through the brand needs to achieve?

Brands need to achieve up to 80% sell through prior to our clearance. Other requirements? Great margin, point of difference and a reason for customers to keep visiting us.

To read more of this interview, visit fashioninitiative.com

About the author

phoebe_soloPhoebes Garland is a Features Writer for EXPOSED Online and co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion with Robert Garland, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. Phoebes also owns Fashion Initiative an online fashion destination covering business of fashion, fashion, luxury and events. Described as a” Power Agent” by Ragtrader magazine. Between the two of them, Phoebes & Robert Garland have over 50 years sales experience in fashion, publishing and advertising.

Garland & Garland Fashion is a respected leading boutique fashion agency based in Sydney, and they are regularly sought for comment from various media and the fashion industry on business fashion topics, fashion and issues. Phoebes was named as The Ones To Follow In 2014: The Top 20 Fashionista Hot List of 2013.

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