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Private limited liability company
Industry Retail
Founded 1854
Headquarters 130 Cashel Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
Key people
  • Founder: John Ballantyne
  • CEO: Maria O'Halloran
Products apparel, cosmetics, accessories, homewares, furniture, general merchandise
Number of employees
over 300[1]

J Ballantyne and Company Ltd,[2] trading as Ballantynes is a Christchurch, New Zealand-based department store operator. Established in 1854, it is New Zealand's first department store.[3] Ballantynes is also a member of the Intercontinental Group of Department Stores where by membership is limited to one member per country. As well as their flagship store in Christchurch Central City, the Cantabrian company operates stores in Timaru and at Christchurch International Airport. The company also operates Contemporary Lounge, a more youth-oriented fashion store, next to the Christchurch store.[4]

Ballantynes Christchurch on the corner of Colombo and Cashel Streets


The company traces its origins back to a millinery and drapery business that began in the front room of a Cashel Street residence in 1854. After being named Dunstable House and growing through owners and buildings, it was purchased by John Ballantyne in 1872.[1] The business was managed as a series of partnerships involving Ballantyne family members until formed as the company J. Ballantyne & Co. in 1920.

From its humble beginnings the Ballantynes business expanded until, by 1947, it occupied 80 m of street front in Cashel Street, 50 m in Colombo Street and another 21 m in Lichfield Street.[5] This prime corner site covered about an acre that contained seven conjoined buildings, six of which had three or more hardwood floors that were interconnected on multiple levels by large passageways between the buildings to allow staff and customers to move freely about the store. By the time of the infamous Ballantynes fire it was widely known as the 'queen of department stores' in the city. The showrooms, fitting rooms, art gallery and sumptuous tearooms catered to the elite of Canterbury. The business was owned and managed by two brothers who were from the Ballantyne family.

Today Ballantynes is the last local department store in Christchurch. Closest rival Arthur Barnett, located in the former Beaths Department Store Building directly across Colombo Street[6] closed down in February 2006.[7] The nearest competitor in the city is the lower-end nationwide Farmers chain. The closest Farmers, farther down Colombo Street, was demolished in August 2012 after suffering heavy damage in the earthquake.[8]

Shoppers eager to get back into Ballantynes on the reopening weekend of City Mall

Canterbury earthquakes[edit]

The Christchurch store was closed for eight months following the February 2011 earthquake.[9] Prior to 22 February, the company employed about 395 staff across its three stores, with about 300 at the City Mall store.[10] The relatively modern construction and low height, at only two storeys, meant it was one of few central buildings relatively undamaged in the second earthquake. The Timaru and airport branches and online store remained open,[9] and the Christchurch store in the City Mall was the first substantial retailer to reopen in the CBD on 29 November 2012[10] and is trading as normal.



Ballantynes Christchurch from Cashel Street

The Christchurch store is a mid-sized department store on the corner of Colombo and Cashel Streets.

Current departments include cosmetics, men's fashion, men's underwear, travel goods and luggage, accessories, pantry, stationery and homewares. The wider homeware department encompasses china and collectables, spa collections, appliances, kitchenware, glassware, bedding, and interiors. The latter include large concessions for Citta and French Country.

Fashion Atrium, ladies' fashion, lingerie, and ladies' footwear are located on the first floor. The lower ground floor includes children's wear, Solace Hair and Beauty (formerly The Salon at Ballantynes), a Beauty and Events Room, Customer Service, The Registry, toilets and a parents' room.

An all-new cosmetics hall was completed by the time the store reopened in November 2012. The hall is the largest and most extensive beauty department in the South Island.

Ballantynes Christchurch International Airport

Other stores and services[edit]

Not including The Pantry gourmet food department in Christchurch, Ballantynes operate four food outlets. JB's Café is located on the ground floor of both the Christchurch and Timaru branches, and The Tearooms are found on the lower ground floor of Christchurch store. Ello Café and Eatery is within Contemporary Lounge on the first floor.

Ballantynes Timaru

The Christchurch store also offers a range of services, including 'Ballantynes by Appointment' personal shopping, Gift Registry, 'The Workroom' alterations, Tax Exempt Shopping (GST Free Shopping), and nationwide and international delivery.[11] Ballantynes offers finance in the form of the Ballantynes Card store account card.[12] Gift cards are also available.[13] Ballantynes also offers extensive online shopping on its website. In mid-2012,[14] Ballantynes launched Beauty VIP, a rewards programme for cosmetics in the Christchurch and Timaru stores, and at Solace Hair and Beauty in the Christchurch store.

The Timaru branch was first opened in 1883, but Ballantynes has been operating from the current location since 1913.[9] The current store was opened in 1986.[9] Today the Timaru store offers most of the major departments of the flagship store, on a much smaller scale. The small airport store located in the duty-free area offers a range of gifts and souvenirs targeted at tourists.

Contemporary Lounge[edit]

Contemporary Lounge is a youth-oriented fashion store featuring local and international designers. The large store was an original tenant in the Re:START container ship mall. Opening in October 2011,[15] the large Contemporary Lounge was located next to the Christchurch store, across Cashel Street. In April 2013 Contemporary Lounge returned to 663 Colombo Street, also accessible from Ballantynes' first floor.[16] Contemporary Lounge also includes a branch of Ginger Meggs Hair Design, next to Ello Café.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History". Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "J Ballantyne and Company Limited (120724) -- Companies Office". Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Ballantynes Department StoreAboutTimelineAbout. "Ballantynes Department Store - About". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  4. ^ "contemporary-lounge". Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  5. ^ McLean, Gavin (1992). New Zealand Tragedies: Fires & Firefighting. Wellington, New Zealand: Grantham House. pp. 103–114. ISBN 1-86934-034-5. 
  6. ^ "Beaths Department Store Building : 682-690 Colombo St, Christchurch, New Zealand". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  7. ^ NZPA (1 February 2006). "Christchurch retailer Arthur Barnett to close". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (28 August 2013). "Farmers building urgently demolished". The Press. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d "History of Ballantynes". 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  10. ^ a b Georgina Stylianou. "Ballantynes Set To Reopen In Christchurch City-Centre..." Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  11. ^ "Solace Hair and Beauty". 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Ballantynes Card". 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  13. ^ "Ballantynes Gift Cards". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  14. ^ "Ballantynes | Publica Ddm". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  15. ^ "Tijdlijnfoto's - Contemporary Lounge". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  16. ^ Ma, Anny (24 April 2013). "Contemporary Lounge returns home!". FashioNZ. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ginger Meggs, Ballantynes Contemporary Lounge, Level 1, 633 Colombo Street, Christchurch". Zenbu. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 

External links[edit]