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'Christmas will not be the same': Auckland's iconic Smith & Caughey's store set to close
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'Unsustainable': NZ's Smith & Caughey's department store set to close after 144 years

Auckland's biggest department store on Queen Street might celebrate its last Christmas this year.
29 May 2024 4:10PM

One of Auckland's most iconic department stores on Queen Street could be shutting shop for good.

Staff of Smith & Caughey’s were informed today about a proposal to close its Queen Street, Newmarket, and online operations in early 2025, affecting the jobs of 240 employees.

The New Zealand company was founded in 1880 by Marianne Smith, who was later joined by her husband William Smith and brother Andrew Caughey.

The store has remained a family business since then and, in more recent times, is best known for its extravagant Christmas display windows each December.

In a statement released by chairman Tony Caughey, the fourth-generation director of the company, he acknowledged the "deeply emotional time" it was for people "connected to this historic establishment."

"However, over the last five years, we have experienced a 40 percent decline in revenue from our physical stores due to factors largely outside our control. As a result, the company is trading at a significant loss, which is unsustainable," Tony Caughey said to Newshub.

"Sadly, we do not believe sales can be restored to levels necessary to continue operating."

Followers of Smith & Caughey's took to social media to share their disappointment about losing an 'Auckland institution'.

"You've weathered two world wars and depressions, Wall Street crashes, our free-trade agreement with China, Covid..." wrote one 'heartbroken' fan.

"Visiting your Queen Street 'palace' has always been such a treat. The old-world charm of the building is like none other in this country."

"Christmas will not be the same without you!"

Tony Caughey also said the company was mindful of its role in family Christmas traditions, which is why the store would close in the new year.

"Whatever the outcome of the consultation process, our intention is still to offer our traditional experience of inspiring world-class Christmas windows, Santa's Enchanted Forest, and Santa Claus himself."

The consultation period is expected to last five weeks.