Woolworths Supermarkets

Last updated

Woolworths Supermarkets
Type Subsidiary
Industry Retail
Founded22 September 1924;96 years ago (1924-09-22)
Number of locations
1,051 [1]
Key people
Brad Banducci CEO, Woolworths Group
Paul Graham Managing Director Supply Chain
Natalie Davis Managing Director Stores, Woolworths Supermarkets [2]
Revenue A$42.151 billion (2020) [1]
Number of employees
215,000 [1]
Parent Woolworths Group
Website www.woolworths.com.au
A Woolworths Store in 1951 on Sydney Road, Manly SLNSW 31789 Nos 5 and 7 Sydney Road Manly taken for LJ Hooker Ltd.jpg
A Woolworths Store in 1951 on Sydney Road, Manly
The Woolworths supermarkets logo, used from 1987 until early 2009 Woolworths-australia-oldbrand.svg
The Woolworths supermarkets logo, used from 1987 until early 2009

Woolworths (colloquially "Woolies") is an Australian chain of supermarkets and grocery stores owned by Woolworths Group. Founded in 1924, Woolworths today is Australia's biggest supermarket chain with a market share of 33% as of 2019. [3]


Woolworths specialises in groceries (vegetables, fruit, meat, packaged foods, etc.), but also sells magazines, DVDs, health and beauty products, household products, pet and baby supplies, and stationery. As of the end of June 2020, there were 987 Woolworths supermarkets and 64 Woolworths Metro convenience stores. [1] Woolworths Online (formerly HomeShop) is a "click and collect" and home delivery service for Woolworths supermarkets.


Woolworths Limited (now Woolworths Group) was founded on 22 September 1924 by five Australian entrepreneurs Percy Christmas, Stanley Chatterton, Cecil Scott Waine, George Creed and Ernest Williams. [4] The first store was opened on 5 December 1924 in Pitt Street of Sydney's Imperial Arcade, called "Woolworths Stupendous Bargain Basement". [5] Following the first store there were only 29 shareholders and there was little interest to accelerate the brand's growth. However, as trading continued and shareholders brought more capital, the dividends paid by the company increased from 5% to 50% after its third year of operation.

Consumer interest in the company grew after December 1924, as more branches of the store were established across Australia. Woolworths stores began selling a variety of goods, claiming the lowest prices as well as money back guarantees. [6] At the forefront of innovation in Australia, Woolworths stores became the first variety store in the world to install receipt printing cash register machines in 1926. [7]

The second Woolworths supermarket was opened on 6 August 1927, on Queen Street in Brisbane. [8] The first Woolworths store in New Zealand was opened in 1929, but the chain has since been rebranded as Countdown (see also Woolworths (New Zealand supermarket chain) . Following the opening of the Hobart store in 1940, Woolworths had a store in every state in Australia. [9]

With the company and its stores running successfully, Woolworths began to experiment with expanding their grocery range more stores began stocking fresh fruits and vegetables and a larger range of food. The first self-service store in Beverly Hills, Sydney was opened in 1955. [8] In 1958 the first supermarket was opened at Dee Why, followed by the first purpose built supermarket at Warrawong in 1960. [10] As Woolworths gradually focused more on groceries, the first Big W department store was opened in 1976 at Tamworth, New South Wales.

In 2018, Woolworths Group stopped providing single-use plastic bags during checkout at the same time as Coles Supermarkets, bringing them in line with Australia's third-biggest supermarket, Aldi. [11] In the following three months, Australian's plastic bag use dropped by 80%, leading to 1.5 billion fewer bags going to landfill. [12] Woolworths also committed to removing 180 tonnes of plastic packaging from their products in 2018. [13]


In 1982, Woolworths Limited acquired two Tasmanian grocery brands: Roelf Vos and Purity, which were converted into Woolworths stores in 2000.

After the arrival of American supermarket giant Safeway Inc. in Australia in 1962, Australian Safeway Pty Ltd was bought by Woolworths in 1985 (see also Safeway (Australia) § Acquisition by Woolworths). Woolworths Limited acquired all of the Safeway stores and the naming rights in exchange for a 19.99% equity interest in Woolworths Limited. [14] At the time of the acquisition, Safeway had 126 stores across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. [15] All Safeway stores in Queensland and New South Wales were rebranded as Woolworths supermarkets, but most Victorian stores continued trading as Safeway. [16] In 2008, Woolworths announced it would rebrand Safeway stores as Woolworths, and this process was completed in June 2017. [17]


In 1987, Woolworths launched the "Fresh Food People" campaign after implementing new company protocols for their fresh food departments. [8] The slogan changed slightly in 2012 to "Australia's Fresh Food People" to promote the fact that 96% of fresh produce sold in Woolworths supermarkets is grown in Australia. [18] In 2014 the original "The Fresh Food People" slogan returned with a new lineup of television commercials.

Loyalty schemes

Loyalty schemes include a number of incentives for purchasing at their stores by subsidising petrol prices at Caltex Woolworths petrol stations and the now defunct Woolworths Plus Petrol. Discounts included 2-cent, 4-cent, 6-cent and in some regional areas 10-cent discounts on fuel, rewarded for purchases over certain amounts.

Everyday Rewards and credit card

In September 2007, Woolworths began a trial in central-west New South Wales of Everyday Rewards, a Woolworths shopping card that automatically tracks supermarket purchases and fuel discounts, thus eliminating the need for shoppers to retain paper coupons. [19] In addition it allows Woolworths to record purchases made by customers to offer them relevant promotions and for studies in demographics and marketing, [20] hence incentives for customers who register their details. This followed Woolworths' announcement that it was planning to launch a general purpose credit card in 2008. [21] Woolworths offered these credit card holders reward vouchers redeemable throughout its store network. [22] Woolworths subsequently announced that the Woolworths Everyday Money MasterCard would be launched on 26 August 2008, allowing customers to earn shopping cards redeemable at Woolworths Group retailers. [23] [24]

In February 2008, following the New South Wales trial, Woolworths announced that its Everyday Rewards card would be rolled out nationally. The implementation began with South Australia and Northern Territory in mid-February 2008, and to other states (excluding Tasmania) [25] by the end of May 2008. During the NSW trial, 50,000 cards were issued to customers. [26]

Woolworths stated in June 2008 that "well over a million" shoppers had taken a card and registered their details. [27] In August 2008, there were 3.8 million cards on issue, with 2.4 million cards registered. [28]

From June 2009, Everyday Rewards cardholders were able to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points by using their Everyday Rewards cards. Cardholders who had successfully linked their Frequent Flyer card to their registered Everyday Rewards card can earn one Frequent Flyer point for every dollar over $30 that they spent in store. In August 2009, Woolworths announced that there were 3.8 million cards registered, of which 1.2 million were linked to a Qantas Frequent Flyer account. [29] On 26 October 2015, Woolworths announced that customer loyalty cards would no longer earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points from 1 January 2016, instead receiving more discounts on groceries. The new discount program came into effect on 28 October 2015. Everyday Rewards cardholders were sent new Woolworths Rewards cards. [30] However 29 July 2020, the program was once again renamed Everyday Rewards. [31]

On 31 August 2016, Woolworths made significant changes to the rewards program in response to customer feedback. Cardholders are able to earn 1 point per $1 spent on eligible products at Woolworths Supermarkets and Caltex Woolworths branded fuel outlets. When 2000 points have been accrued, a $10 discount can be applied to their next eligible transaction in Woolworths Supermarkets. [32] Customers are also given the choice to "bank" their discounts until Christmas time, with the discounts able to be spent from 1 December until 1 January each year. [33] Woolworths also reintroduced the ability to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points when customers use their Rewards card. When 2,000 points have been accrued, instead of receiving a $10 discount, those points can be converted to 1000 Frequent Flyer points. [34]

Frequent Shopper Club

The Frequent Shopper Club, stylised as F$C, is a reward program for shopping in Woolworths stores in Tasmania. It was started by Purity Supermarkets in 1992, and is still in use today. [35]

The program offers a $20 voucher for every 2000 points accrued.[ citation needed ] As of November 2017, Woolworths launched a basic website for the Frequent Shopper Club.

In July 2020, Woolworths announced that the program would be folded into the Everyday Rewards program.

Private label brands

Woolworths has a range of generic or private label brands:

A budget label covering everyday household products and groceries. Products within this range typically feature a red and white Woolworths logo on the top left corner on the front side of the packaging. [36]

Woolworths' most populous own brand range, it features food lines in all categories across the store. Products in this range feature a green and white logo. Customer can become part of a food sampling group called "Bunch" in order to test foods within this range and provide feedback to make improvements. [37]

This own brand features premium products which are usually only available around Christmas time, and include products such as Christmas puddings, fruit mince pies and cakes. [38]

Macro features a range of foods that are free from artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours, added MSG and hydrogenated oils. Many products in this range are promoted as organic foods. [39]

This range is a collaboration between Woolworths and Australian personal trainer Michelle Bridges. The range is exclusively chilled and frozen meals, all of which include 2–3 serves of vegetables, grains and protein, and are all under 450 calories per serve. [40]

This is a fresh produce brand which features fruit and vegetables, such as carrots, lemons and apples, that are oddly shaped or are otherwise imperfect. These products are sold at a cheaper price as a compromise to this. [41]

Other Woolworths Limited supermarkets


2020 spam marketing controversy

In July 2020, Woolworths were found guilty of breaching spam laws in excess of 5 million times and ignoring repeated consumer requests to unsubscribe from its marketing mailing lists. [45]

The Australian Communications and Media Authority found the supermarket giant had unlawfully spammed more than 1.2 million customers between October 2018 and July 2019. [45] The supermarket was found to have repeatedly ignored consumers who had tried to prevent marketing emails being sent to their inboxes and had not attempted to improve its behaviour; despite the AMCA notifying the company that they had received customer complaints. [45]

ACMA chairman Nerida O'Loughlin said of the violation:

"The spam rules have been in place for 17 years and Woolworths is a large and sophisticated organisation. The scale and prolonged nature of the non-compliance is inexcusable." [45]

The Sydney Morning Herald noted that the infringement notice of $1,003,800 is the biggest fine the AMCA has issued to date. [45]

Related Research Articles

Loyalty program Customer loyalty programs (loyalty cards)

A loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program. Today, such programs cover most types of commerce, each having varying features and rewards schemes, including in banking, entertainment, hospitality, retailing and travel.

Supermarket Large format of grocery store

A supermarket is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food, beverages and household products, organized into sections. It is larger and has a wider selection than earlier grocery stores, but is smaller and more limited in the range of merchandise than a hypermarket or big-box market.

Safeway was a British food wholesaler, chain of supermarkets and convenience shops. It started as a subsidiary of the American Safeway Inc., before being sold off in 1987.

Morrisons UK supermarket chain

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, trading as Morrisons, is the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, and is headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.

PAK'nSAVE is a New Zealand discount food warehouse chain owned by the Foodstuffs cooperative.

Countdown (supermarket)

Countdown is a New Zealand full-service supermarket chain and subsidiary of Woolworths NZ, itself a subsidiary of Australia's Woolworths Limited. Countdown stores are normally larger than the average New Zealand supermarket. The first Countdown store opened in 1981 and the chain has expanded to 180 stores as of 2018. It is the largest single supermarket chain in New Zealand in terms of number of stores, although the rival Four Square chain has a larger number of premises including smaller retail stores in rural areas.

Waitrose British supermarket

Waitrose & Partners is a brand of British supermarkets, founded in 1904 as Waite, Rose & Taylor, later shortened to Waitrose. It was acquired in 1937 by employee-owned retailer John Lewis Partnership, which still sells groceries under the brand. Its head offices are located in Bracknell and Victoria, England. Waitrose & Partners has 332 shops across the United Kingdom, including 65 "little Waitrose" convenience shops, and a 5.1% share of the market, making it the eighth-largest retailer of groceries in the UK. They also export products to 52 countries and have locations in the Middle East.

Woolworths Group (Australia)

Woolworths Group Limited, a major Australian company, has extensive retail interests throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the largest company in Australia by revenue and the second-largest in New Zealand. In addition, Woolworths Group is the largest takeaway liquor-retailer in Australia, the largest hotel and gaming poker-machine operator in Australia, and was the 19th-largest retailer in the world in 2008.

Safeway Inc. American supermarket chain

Safeway is an American supermarket chain founded by Marion Barton Skaggs in April 1915 in American Falls, Idaho. The chain provides grocery items, food and general merchandise and feature a variety of specialty departments, such as bakery, delicatessen, floral and pharmacy, as well as Starbucks coffee shops and fuel centers. It is a subsidiary of Albertsons after being acquired by private equity investors led by Cerberus Capital Management in January 2015. Safeway's primary base of operations is in the west with some stores located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Eastern Seaboard. The subsidiary is headquartered in Pleasanton, California, with its parent company, Albertsons, headquartered in Boise, Idaho.


Franklins was a supermarket chain selling packaged groceries and perishables throughout New South Wales, Australia, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. It sold the "No Frills" home brand generic products. In 2011 the chain was bought by Metcash and the stores were sold off, shut down or converted to other brands. The final store closed in April 2015.

Euro Garages Australia

Euro Garages Australia, branded as EG, is an Australian chain of petrol stations, selling Ampol fuel at its stations. In Victoria, the chain traded as Caltex Safeway until Woolworths scrapped the name in late 2008 and traded as Caltex Woolworths or Woolworths Petrol until its sale in 2019.


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Price Chopper was part of the Woolworths New Zealand Supermarket Group, their brands included: Woolworths, Big Fresh and Price Chopper.

Safeway (Australia) Former supermarket chain

Safeway was a chain of supermarkets in Australia from 1963 to 2017. The supermarkets were initially part of Safeway Inc. but were absorbed by Woolworths Limited in 1985. On 22 August 2008, Woolworths Limited announced it would discontinue the Safeway name, and former Safeway stores were rebranded to Woolworths or closed. The final Safeway store to be rebranded was Wodonga, occurring on 6 June 2017.

Everyday Rewards is a loyalty program owned and operated in Australia by Woolworths Group. The principal participant in the program is Woolworths supermarkets, Big W, BWS, Caltex/Ampol, and Caltex Woolworths/EG. As of December 2019, Everyday Rewards has over 12 million members.

Safeway is a Canadian supermarket chain of 183 full service supermarket stores in Western Canada. It was established in 1929 as a subsidiary of the American Safeway Inc., before being sold in 2013 to Canada's second-largest supermarket chain, Sobeys, a division of the conglomerate Empire Company. It is now independent from the American company as a result but continues to use the same Safeway name and logo.


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