An undisclosed investor is believed to have paid more than $16 million for the 102-year-old building in Richmond’s gritty Swan Street, identified by its famous clock tower. Dimmeys decided to sell the property last month, saying its business was no longer suited to a large-scale department store.
The retailer, which uses former AFL footballer Robert DiPierdomenico to promote its products, has other shops in Melbourne, including Footscray, Dandenong and Werribee. It also has 10 regional Victorian stores.
It is believed funds from the sale of the Richmond building will be used to open new shops, but this could not be confirmed with managing director Doug Zappelli, who was unavailable for comment.
Killen Thomas director, and the building’s selling agent, John Camilleri, confirmed the building had sold, but declined to elaborate on any part of the deal, including buyer or price.
It was widely speculated a developer would swoop on the prominent site, which is becoming increasingly surrounded by apartment buildings, bringing new residents and the need for more retail space.
The Dimmeys building is heritage-protected, but could make way for a mixed-use building incorporating a double-storey shopping centre and offices.
A high-rise apartment building has previously been mooted for land behind Dimmeys, which would be accessed from side streets.
According to Samuel Furphy, who recently wrote a book on the retailing empire, Dimmeys Richmond came into being in 1853 and was originally called Dimelow and Gaylard.
Locals dubbed the store Dimmeys, and at the turn of the century it was rebranded to its current name. About the same time, the prominent clock tower and ball were added to the building.
Mr Furphy says that in the 1920s, Dimmeys was considered quite upmarket shopping for the then working class suburb of Richmond.