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Woolworths Supermarkets

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Woolworths Supermarkets
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded22 September 1924; 99 years ago (1924-09-22)
Number of locations
995[1] (2022)
Key people
Brad Banducci – CEO, Woolworths Group
Annette Karentoni – Chief Supply Chain Officer
Natalie Davis – Managing Director, Woolworths Supermarkets[2]
ParentWoolworths Group
A Woolworths store in 1951 on Sydney Road, Manly

Woolworths Supermarkets (colloquially known in Australia as "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 at June 2023, there were 995 Woolworths supermarkets and 90 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 outlet was opened on 6 August 1927, on Queen Street, 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))which in 2023, the Woolworths - Countdown rebrand was reversed. 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 Plaza in 1960.[10] As Woolworths gradually focused more on groceries, the first Big W department store was opened in 1964 at Jesmond, New South Wales.[11]

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.[12] In the following three months, Australian's plastic bag use dropped by 80%, leading to 1.5 billion fewer bags going to landfill.[13] Woolworths also committed to removing 180 tonnes of plastic packaging from their products in 2018.[14]

In September 2021, Woolworths launched an online marketplace called Everyday Market. The marketplace allows customers to purchase products from partnered companies, including products not normally sold in the supermarket.[15]

In May 2023, Woolworths acquired Milkrun, a fast grocery delivery startup which ceased operations the previous month and competed with the supermarket's Metro60 delivery service. Woolworths rebranded Metro60 as Milkrun.[16][17]


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

In 1958 Woolworths Limited acquired all 32 Brisbane Cash & Carry stores, which was a popular Brisbane grocery store chain. These were then later rebranded as Woolworths stores.[18]

After the arrival of American supermarket giant Safeway in Australia in 1962, Safeway Australia was bought by Woolworths in 1985. Woolworths Limited acquired all of the Safeway stores and the naming rights in exchange for a 20% equity interest in Woolworths Limited.[19][20] At the time of the acquisition, Safeway had 126 stores across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.[21] All Safeway stores in Queensland and New South Wales were rebranded as Woolworths supermarkets, but most Victorian stores continued trading as Safeway.[22] In 2008, Woolworths announced it would rebrand Safeway stores as Woolworths, and this process was completed in June 2017.[23]


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.[24] In 2014 the original "The Fresh Food People" slogan returned with a new lineup of television commercials. Various other catchphrases have been used in recent advertisements, including "That's Today's Fresh Food People", and "Get Your Woolies Worth."

Loyalty schemes[edit]

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[edit]

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.[25] In addition it allows Woolworths to record purchases made by customers to offer them relevant promotions and for studies in demographics and marketing,[26] hence incentives for customers who register their details.

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)[27] by the end of May 2008.[28] 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]

A Woolworths vehicle parked in Westminster, Western Australia.

Frequent Shopper Club[edit]

The Frequent Shopper Club, stylised as F$C, was a reward program for shopping in Woolworths stores in Tasmania. It was started by Purity Supermarkets in 1992, and was in use until January 2021.[30][31] In July 2020, Woolworths announced that the program would be folded into the Everyday Rewards program.[32]

Credit card[edit]

In 2007, Woolworths announced that it was planning to launch a general purpose credit card in 2008.[33] Woolworths offered these credit card holders reward vouchers redeemable throughout its store network.[34] 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.[35][36]

Private label brands[edit]

Woolworths has a range of generic or private label brands:

  • Essentials

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.[37]

  • Woolworths Food Range

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.[38]

  • Gold

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.[39]

  • Macro Wholefoods Market

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.[40] The brand was acquired by Woolworths in 2009, along with nine store leases in New South Wales and Victoria originally intended for use by its Thomas Dux business. As a result of the ceasing of operations of Thomas Dux in 2017 only two of the former Macro Wholefoods sites are still leased by Woolworths, from 2017 being used as Woolworths Metro supermarkets. However, in 2021 one of the sites, in Black Rock, Victoria, was closed and is thought to be being replaced by a BWS or Dan Murphy's liquor outlet. Despite the closure of the sites, the brand is still sold in Woolworths supermarkets today.[41]

  • Delicious Nutritious

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.[42]

  • The Odd Bunch

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.[43]



A Countdown supermarket in New Zealand
  • Woolworths NZ is the trading name in New Zealand. Woolworths also operated supermarket brands Foodtown and Woolworths until November 2011, which were rebranded as Countdown. On 18 July 2023, it was announced by Woolworths Group that Countdown will be rebranded Woolworths from early 2024.[45]
A Woolworths Metro store in Sydney
  • Woolworths Metro is a chain of small format grocery stores launched in 2013. The first store opened in Sydney, and the chain now has over 90 stores across Australia as of August 2023. Three of them are former Thomas Dux stores, while others are mostly placed within central business districts.
A Woolworths MetroGo store at an Ampol service station
  • Ampol Woolworths MetroGo is a chain of smaller Woolworths Metro convenience stores launched in March 2022, and are found exclusively in some Ampol service stations.[46][47] These stores are owned and operated by Ampol (and previously Caltex Australia), and were first launched in November 2019 as Woolworths Metro stores.[48] The chain now has over 50 stores across Australia as of August 2023. On 28 August 2023, it was announced in the 2023 Half Year Results that all 50 Ampol Woolworths MetroGo stores will be rebranded to Foodary.[49]


  • Flemings was a chain of supermarkets in Sydney and the Central Coast. On 19 May 2020, the final store in Jannali closed and was replaced with a Woolworths Metro store.[50]
  • Food For Less was a discount supermarket chain located in Queensland and New South Wales. Since 2010 stores were either closed or rebranded to Woolworths, with the last store rebranded in 2018.
  • Safeway was the trading name of Woolworths for most of their Victorian stores until 2017 (see § Acquisitions).
  • Thomas Dux was launched in 2008 in two New South Wales locations. The stores had a larger fresh food offering than traditional Woolworths stores, along with a larger delicatessen section.[51] At its peak the chain had 11 stores. From 2014, the stores gradually closed and the chain ceased operation in late 2017. Three of the stores were retained under the "Woolworths Metro" brand; the other seven were either closed entirely or sold to other businesses. In 2021 however, the former Thomas Dux site at Black Rock, Victoria, which was retained as a "Woolworths Metro" store, was closed and is thought to be being replaced by a BWS or Dan Murphy's liquor outlet.
  • Caltex Woolworths, a joint venture with Ampol (previously Caltex Australia), operated service stations across Australia. Woolworths sold the operation to the EG Group in April 2019 which has since be renamed EG Australia. Woolworths and EG entered a 15-year agreement that would maintain its fuel discount redemption across the network, and enable Woolworths Rewards points to be earned on fuel transactions across its network.[52]
  • Caltex Safeway operated service stations in Victoria until it was converted to Caltex Woolworths in 2008–2010.
  • Roelf Vos and Purity were trading names used in Tasmania prior to being rebranded as Woolworths in 2000.
  • Woolworths Supermarket Liquor (including former Safeway Liquor in Victoria) was a liquor division of Woolworths with stores attached to its supermarkets, until all 475 stores were rebranded as BWS in 2012–2013.[53][54]


2020 spam marketing[edit]

In July 2020, Woolworths were found guilty of breaching spam laws in excess of 5 million times and failing to unsubscribe customers from their mailing lists when requested to do so. The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) found Woolworths had unlawfully spammed more than a million customers between October 2018 and July 2019.[55] The supermarket was found to have repeatedly ignored consumers who had tried to prevent receipt of marketing emails and had not attempted to improve, despite the AMCA notifying the company that they had received customer complaints. The company was fined $1,003,800.[55]

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."[55]


In 2019, Woolworths admitted to having underpaid its employees by millions of dollars.[56]

Conversion of full format stores to Woolworths Metro stores[edit]

In 2023, Woolworths came under scrutiny for converting some of its full-size stores into the smaller Woolworths Metro format stores. Woolworths Metro stores typically stock a lesser range of products and have a different pricing structure than the full format stores.[57] In August 2023, residents in Alexandria protested the planned conversion of their local Woolworths to a Woolworths Metro. A petition, promoted by local community groups, gathered over 1600 signatures, with support from the City of Sydney mayor, Clover Moore. Despite the community feedback, Woolworths pushed through with the Metro conversion.[58][59]

Australia Day merchandise[edit]

On 10 January 2024, Woolworths Group announced that Woolworths supermarkets and Big W would no longer be stocking Australia Day-themed merchandise, citing declining demand and the broader discussion about the national holiday.[60] The decision caused some controversy, with Liberal opposition leader Peter Dutton calling for a boycott for its decision[61][62][63][64] and vandalism to two stores in Brisbane.[65][66][67]

Allegations of price gouging[edit]

Both Woolworths and competitor Coles Supermarkets have come under scrutiny in 2023–2024 due to alleged price gouging attributed to the duopoly in the Australian supermarket industry with the supermarket chain claiming this is an ongoing effect of the global 2021–2023 inflation.[citation needed]

CEO Brad Banducci was interviewed on the news program Four Corners in February 2024 and subsequently walked out mid interview but later returned after being coaxed into returning to complete the interview. He subsequently announced his intention to resign from the position in September of that year with the managing director of eCommerce and loyalty, Amanda Bardwell set to replace Banducci as CEO.[68]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Group Executive Committee". Woolworths Group. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
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  59. ^ "Major change coming to some Sydney supermarkets - and not everyone is happy". 29 August 2023.
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  68. ^ Jolly, Nathan (21 February 2024). "Brad Banducci quits as Woolworths CEO after trainwreck ABC interview". mumbrella. Retrieved 21 February 2024.

External links[edit]