BI-LO (Australia)

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This article is about the Australian supermarket chain. For other uses, see BI-LO.
BI-LO Supermarkets
Industry Retail
Founded 1979
Founder John Weekes
Headquarters Hawthorn East, Victoria,
Number of locations
Parent Wesfarmers

BI-LO Supermarkets is an Australian supermarket chain owned by Wesfarmers (formerly Coles Group). Once a chain of 180 outlets, most BI-LO stores were re-branded as Coles Supermarkets during 2006 and 2007. In October 2008, Coles stated it was looking to create a new chain to replace the remaining BI-LO stores. As of January 2017 only one store exists and is located in Loganholme, Queensland. Coles Supermarket in Bentley has the exact decor of Newmart Supermarket. Newmart was Bilo supermarkets trading name in Western Australia.[1]


BI-LO was established by John, Peter and David Weeks in Adelaide in 1979. The first stores opened at Stirling and Aldgate in South Australia's Adelaide Hills region after being converted from hardware outlets, followed by the acquisition of a third store at Murray Bridge. Coles Myer cited that by 1979, BI-LO was South Australia's cheapest grocer.[2]

A former BI-LO supermarket in Sydney, New South Wales

Bi-Lo was a leader in adopting new technology and by 1983 operated product scanning systems in all stores, the first grocery chain store in Australia to complete scanning across all stores in the group.

By 1987, BI-LO was operating 28 supermarkets in South Australia and generating one third of metropolitan Adelaide’s supermarket sales, when it was acquired by Coles Myer, which also purchased the 34-store Shoeys discount supermarket chain in New South Wales (subsequently renamed as BI-LO). BI-LO would later expand into Queensland and Victoria.

In December 1994, BI-LO opened its first Mega Fresh store at Greenacres, SA, in response to its then chief competitor Franklins "Big Fresh" concept. In 1996, BI-LO acquired six Newmart supermarkets in Western Australia although the Newmart name was retained due to its strong brand identification. In 1998, BI-LO purchased three Northern Territory supermarkets in Darwin and Alice Springs. In 1999, the slogan "Extra Value For You" was launched.

BI-LO/Newmart opened nine new stores and completed 23 refurbishments in 2000, and opened 26 more stores and completed 11 refurbishments in 2001. The last Newmart stores in Western Australia to open before the chain was absorbed into Coles Supermarkets were at Garden City, Booragoon (October 2000) and Ocean Keys, Clarkson (July 2001). Newmart Stores in Garden City, Collie, Stirling Central, Noranda and Ocean Keys became an Action Supermarkets outlet at the same time, then became a Woolworths outlet. Coles in Bentley Western Australia still has Newmart checkouts, Newmart Aisle signs and Deli counter and Bakery Awnings.

In 2002, BI-LO acquired and converted 15 Franklins sites, in New South Wales (Warilla Grove, Campbelltown - now Coles, Hillsdale - closed 2003, Mount Druitt - closed 2005, Shellharbour, Lavington, Thirroul), Queensland (Kawana, Capalaba - Closed 2007 reopened as Coles 2008, Hope Island, Loganholme), Victoria (Southland, Waverley Gardens - closed 2004, Lalor, Broadmeadows) and South Australia (Unley - closed 2005). Around 820 former Franklins employees were offered positions at BI-LO. BI-LO also opened 7 stores and a Bi-Lo Discount Petrol site at Narrandera, New South Wales. In August of that year, all Newmart Supermarkets operated by BI-LO in Western Australia were transferred to the management of Coles Supermarkets. In 2004, BI-LO relaunched with the slogan "Why Pay More".

In-store signage promoting the conversion

In July 2006, Coles Myer CEO John Fletcher announced a strategy to progressively rebrand BI-LO, Kmart, First Choice Liquor, Liquorland and Theo's under the Coles banner. BI-LO supermarkets were to be converted to Coles supermarkets, with others changing to other Coles Group businesses. Coles planned to keep some BI-LO lines in its converted stores. Re-branding BI-LO stores began later in 2006 and had been expected to be completed by mid-2007. A small number of stores were to be re-branded Coles Discount Grocery where a Coles Supermarket already existed in the same complex (for example, at Westfield Fountain Gate). Some stores, such as BI-LO Arkaba in South Australia, were originally Coles Supermarkets before being converted to BI-LO in the late 1990s.

A BI-LO Supermarket produce department during the conversion

However, Coles Group announced in March 2007 it was "pausing" the conversion of BI-LO stores to Coles, following the poor results of the 129 stores converted thus far.[3] Market analysts commented that the conversion program was unsuccessful due to Coles' transforming of stores in affluent areas first, the replacement of BI-LO's budget items with more expensive equivalents, and the removal of trademark budget meat packs.[4] The last BI-LO store still open stock groceries and other items from Coles.

Reflecting on the failed conversion strategy later in 2007, Coles chief operating officer Mick McMahon stated "a strategy you can't execute is probably not the right strategy".[5]

In October 2008, Coles stated it was planning to create a discount supermarket chain to replace the remaining BI-LO stores.[1] In 2009, Coles stated it would sell eight of the remaining BI-LO stores to rival chain Foodworks.[6] Further stores were closed or marked for closure due to poor performance and small store size, including Armidale[7] and Merimbula.[8]

At its peak, BI-LO had more than 180 stores and employed 13,600 people. By March 2009, only 48 stores remained, largely in NSW and Queensland. At the end of December 2014, that number had decreased to six stores.[9] As at March 2016 with the closure of Toombul and Alderley (reopened as Coles in late 2016) in Brisbane and as of April 2016 Coles take over of the Lisarow store in New South Wales leaves only one store remaining at Loganhome, Queensland.


The tag-line "Extra Value for You — and Me" was used between 1999 and 2004, which was replaced by "Why Pay More!" Between 2000 and 2005, TV cook Huey was the face of BI-LO and Newmart supermarkets across Australia, with BI-LO sponsoring and supplying his cooking shows. In late 2005, a stylised BI-LO docket was adopted as BI-LO's mascot and its use replaced Hewitson. At this time, the tag-line "It's the total of the docket that counts!" was used. In 2003, a campaign recording customer answers to "Why do you shop at BI-LO?" was used. In 2007 amid the Coles conversion, an election-style campaign also featured the stylised BI-LO Docket with the tag "Reduce the total of your docket!" Former slogans included "We Do, You Do" and "Cheap Groceries".


BI-LO Mega Fresh[edit]

In response to its main competitor Franklins launching "Franklins Big Fresh" in the early 1990s, BI-LO launched its Mega Frrresh brand at Greenacres, South Australia in 1994. Like Franklins Big Fresh, it combined discount shopping with a market-style atmosphere. Mega Fresh stores remain in New South Wales and Queensland. As to this day, the remaining Bi-Lo Store in Loganholme is BI-LO Mega Fresh. [10] The final BI-LO Mega Fresh store in Loganholme will be closing by mid-2017.


BI-LO purchased six Newmart supermarkets in 1996 for A$16 million.[11] Newmart was a small independent discount chain in Perth, Western Australia with a similar format to BI-LO: discount groceries, bulk foods, extensive fresh produce, meat and delicatessen sections. BI-LO was unable to re-brand the stores since Foodland Associated Limited traded stores in Western Australia under the BI-LO name at the time. The Newmart chain grew to 18 stores by 2002, had its own website until 2006, and like BI-LO, launched the slogan "Extra Value for You" in 1999.

In 2002, Coles assumed management of Newmart, immediately re-branding seven stores as Coles supermarkets,[12][13] before discontinuing the Newmart brand in 2003, selling five stores to Action Supermarkets), all five Action supermarkets were later bought out and became Woolworths outlets. These stores were located at Noranda, Stirling Central, Booragoon, Clarkson and Collie. They converted the remaining stores to Coles except for the former Newmart in Bentley which apart from having the Coles sign above the store it still has Newmart Awnings in the bakery and Deli, Newmart Checkouts, Newmart security towers at checkouts and Newmart Aisle signage. .[14]


Main Competitors[edit]

Former competitors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Coles to replace Bi-Lo stores". Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-10-20. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  2. ^ "Our businesses". Coles Myer (archive). 1998-05-20. Archived from the original on 1998-05-20. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  3. ^ Urban, Rebecca (2007-05-17). "Customers desert Coles, bidders circle". Business. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  4. ^ Carson, Vanda (2007-03-28). "Coles took the buy out of Bi-Lo". Business. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  5. ^ "Bi-Lo's fate up in the abandoned theme parksair". The Age, Melbourne. 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  6. ^ "Coles' unwanteds: the list of stores to be sold to FoodWorks". Inside Retailing. 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  7. ^ "Low blow from Bi-Lo". The Armidale Independent. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "BI-LO to close". Merimbula News Weekly. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "2015 Statutory Half Year Report". Wesfarmers Limited. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Our businesses". Coles Myer (archive). 1998-05-20. Archived from the original on 1998-05-20. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  11. ^ "Coles Myer restructures WA operations". The Australian Financial Review. 2002-07-10. Retrieved 2008-01-01. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Newmart stores to carry Coles name". Foodweek - ABIX via COMTEX. 2002-09-05. Retrieved 2008-01-01. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Coles announces Newmart management restructure". Foodweek - ABIX via COMTEX. 2002-07-18. Retrieved 2008-01-01. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Newmart". Newmart. 2006-08-19. Archived from the original on 2006-08-19. 

External links[edit]