Big W

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This article is about the Australian department store. For other uses, see Big W (disambiguation).
Big W
Industry Retail
Founded 1964
Headquarters Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia
Number of locations
Key people
Sally Macdonald CEO
Revenue Steady A$4.11 billion (2015)[1]
Decrease A$114 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
Parent Woolworths Limited

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Big W is an Australian chain of discount department stores, which was founded in regional New South Wales in 1964. The company is a division of Woolworths Limited and currently operates 186 stores, with about 22,000 employees across Australia and Asia.


Big W is the first Australian discount department store to operate across the country. Woolworths Limited developed the Big W brand to provide Australian shoppers with a broad range of general merchandise products in a dedicated one-stop-shop. The Big W chain grew out of Woolworths Limited's original Variety stores, which carried a small range of general merchandise products. Big W's name reflects the complementary relationship it has with Woolworths Supermarkets.

The first Big W stand-alone store opened on 7 October 1964 at Jesmond[2] on the outskirts of Newcastle. At 24,500 square feet, the double-storey Jesmond store represented a new style of shopping for local consumers, one in which they could buy a large proportion of their household products in one shop close to home.

By 1966, six stores were up and running. Kotara was the second store to open its doors in 1965 and by 1969 every state in Australia had a store.[3] The separation of Big W and Woolworths supermarkets was largely completed by 1989, although a few Woolworths Variety stores continued to operate into the 1990s (such as the one in Rundle Mall, Adelaide).[citation needed]


In 2015, there were 186 Big W stores trading across Australia: 63 in New South Wales, 46 in Queensland, 34 in Victoria, 17 in Western Australia, 17 in South Australia, 5 in the Australian Capital Territory, 3 in Tasmania and 1 trading in the Northern Territory.[4]


In 2007, Big W began trialling the provision of optometry services in South Australia and since then, these services have been added to selected stores in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.[5] Big W were the first company in Australia to use self-serve checkouts, which were introduced in 2003 on a trial basis in two of Sydney's major stores and began expanding throughout Australia in late 2005.[citation needed]

In August 2014, Big W launched its first Party store at Rouse Hill in New South Wales and its second at the newly refurbished Macquarie Centre at North Ryde in New South Wales. There are currently 134 such stores across Australia.[6]

Big W is the leading and largest physical retailer of books and toys in Australia.[citation needed]


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