How We Were Founded

How We Were Founded

  1. Woolworths Stupendous Bargain Basement - 1924


    1924: Woolworths was founded

    On Friday, 5 December 1924, Woolworths Stupendous Bargain Basement opened for business in Sydney's Imperial Arcade.  The opening advertisement said: 'Every city needs a Woolworths: Sydney has it now.  Every man, woman and child needs a handy place where good things are cheap’.
  2. Christchurch NZ opened 1930


    1927: Woolworths becomes a Chain

    No thought had been given to a 'chain' of stores until the offer of inexpensive premises in Queen Street, Brisbane resulted in Woolworths opening a second store on 6 August 1927. While the depression years wrought havoc elsewhere, Woolworths continued to grow and 1929 opened a store in New Zealand. By 1930 there were sixteen stores across New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand.

  3. Jack Davey


    1937: Start of radio advertising

    From the beginning Woolworths advertised in the daily papers. In 1937 they decided to use the relatively new medium of radio, sponsoring an evening program called, ‘Rhythm Round Up’ on Station 2GB, Sydney. Woolworths’ request for an almost unknown before breakfast announcer as compere resulted in Jack Davey getting his first peak-time break in show business, going on to become one of Sydney’s leading radio personalities.

  4. Staff of Townsville, QLD, store - Christmas 1939


    1939: Staff Assurance scheme launched

    It was felt employees who played their part in the Company’s success should be able to look forward to a just reward on retirement. The staff assurance scheme was made retrospective to the Company’s foundation in 1924 so that employees were covered from the date they joined the Company.
  5. Bulk Store Perth, WA - 1957


    1940: Warehousing expands

    The first warehouse was established on two floors above the Oxford Street, Sydney store in 1929. This space was quickly outgrown – as was that at two subsequent sites. A new larger site was acquired at Glebe, Sydney and, in 1940, a modern 262,000 sq. ft. warehouse opened, which was subsequently partially requisitioned during the war. Warehouses followed at Brisbane in 1948, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and in 1957 Western Australia.
  6. Woolies staff present ambulances to the Army in 1940s


    1940s: World War II

    World War II brought the Company’s development to a halt. Hundreds of Woolworths’ men and women joined the Services. Company employees sent regular company-subsidised parcels and letters to colleagues in the armed forces and raised funds for ambulances and comforts funds.
  7. Woolworths' first 'Self-service' store, Beverley Hills, NSW on opening day


    1955: Woolworths first self service stores

    Woolworth’s first ‘Self-Service' variety store opened at Beverley Hills, a Sydney suburb, on 6 October. Customers selected their purchases and paid at cash registers at the front of the store. Self service was immediately popular and further stores were converted to this new way of shopping.
  8. A customer with shopping 'glider' in Dee Why NSW 1957


    1957: Woolworths first food store

    Variety stores had always sold a few food items and in the mid 1950s Woolworths began experimenting with food sections at the rear of stores. Dee Why in Sydney was Woolworths’ first ‘food’ store. The grocery range was limited but included fresh vegetables, delicatessen items and packaged fresh meat sold out of refrigerated cabinets. The food section was self-service and had its own checkouts mid-way down the store.
  9. Crowds await the opening of the 300th store - Wentworthville, NSW


    1959: Three hundredth store

    In 1959 Woolworths opened its 300th store at Wentworthville. In only four years Woolworths had moved into food and self-service and added one hundred stores — the rapid growth facilitated by the acquisition of the BCC stores in Queensland.
  10. Local Pipe Band heralds opening of the first Supermarket at Warrawong, NSW 1960


    1960: Woolworths' first supermarket

    Woolworths with growing expertise in food retailing began to develop purpose built supermarkets - self-selection stores, offering a range of food and variety goods under one roof, with adjacent parking space. The first Woolworths’ supermarket opened at Warrawong, New South Wales in May 1960. It was such a success that store plans on the drawing board were reviewed and many were converted to supermarkets.
  11. Centralian Traders converted to Woolworths Supermarket - 1960


    1960: Woolworths becomes an Australian wide retailer

    Woolworths became the first retailer to operate Australia-wide when it purchased the Northern Territory business of Centralian Traders Pty Ltd. at Alice Springs and brought ‘Woolies’ to the centre of the continent.
  12. Leederville, WA, site of first Liquor Store - 1961


    1960: Woolworths moves into liquor

    1960 Woolworths purchased a store at Leederville, WA which had a limited liquor licence. Further licences were acquired during the 1960s and 1970s and in 1984 the Group’s liquor stores were consolidated into one trading unit. In 1998 Woolworths entered into contracts with Dan Murphy and in 2001 opened its first premium liquor store First Estate and established BWS (Beer Wine and Spirits).
  13. Quality Assurance Laboratory - 1969


    1964: Quality Assurance laboratory opened

    Quality control had always been an important factor in buying, particularly of fresh foods. In 1964 Woolworths opened its own Quality Assurance Laboratory – independent of the buying department. While still responsible for testing foodstuffs, a large part of the analysts’ job was to check samples of general merchandise against specifications to ensure that the quality ordered by Woolworths’ buyers was delivered.
  14. Baby Jane - Centrepiece of Own Brands Promotion


    1973: Own Brands launched

    From 1930 Woolworths marketed products with a Woolworths label or a house name such as ‘Judith Aden’. In 1973 the Company introduced a comprehensive range of Own Brands.

    ‘Home Brand’ was launched in 1983 with 150 products, mostly basic food and grocery lines, in generic black and white packaging with a distinctive red and white Home Brand Logo.

    In 2005 Woolworths added ‘Woolworths Select’ a premium house brand.

  15. Tamworth BIG W Discount Department Store: Opened 1976


    1976: The first BIG W Discount Department Store opened at Tamworth

    The first BIG W Discount Store was opened at West Tamworth, New South Wales in 1976 selling general merchandise on one level with extensive parking facilities. The formulae proved successful and by the end of 1978, 13 Big W Discount stores were operating, with stores in all States and the ACT.
  16. 1981

    1981: Acquisition of Dick Smith

    During 1981 Woolworths acquired 60% of the companies established and operated by Dick Smith (Dick Smith Electronics), and the remaining 40% of the Group was acquired in 1983. In 2001 Tandy was added to the Dick Smith Electronics Division.

    Dick Smith PowerHouse Stores are electronic superstores that provide an extensive range of well-known brands in an interactive environment. The first PowerHouse opened in Bankstown, NSW in 1996.

  17. 1985

    1985: Safeway acquired

    Woolworths acquired the 126 Australian Safeway Stores and the following year Woolworths adopted the Safeway name for all its Victorian supermarkets.
  18. Produce Department Neutral Bay


    1987: Fresh Food People launched

    Woolworths launched the ‘Woolworths the Fresh Food People’ campaign following the implementation of new buying, merchandising and training programs in each of the fresh food departments. The focus on fresh foods clearly differentiated Woolworths from other supermarkets and has remained our key philosophy. The Fresh Food People advertisements featured Woolworths’ staff and were filmed in real Woolworths’ stores.
  19. 1989

    1989: Woolworths taken over by IEL

    In 1986 for the first time in sixty-three years no final dividend was recommended or paid on Woolworths shares. On 22 November 1988 IEL advised of an unconditional offer for all shares in Woolworths Limited at $3.65 cash per share. Directors of Woolworths recommended acceptance of the offer by IEL and, on 28 April 1989, having acquired 98.4% of the shares in Woolworths, preceded with the compulsory acquisition of the remaining Woolworths shares. Woolworths became a fully owned subsidiary of IEL and on 31 May Woolworths Limited shares were de-listed and the company no longer appeared on the Stock Exchange boards after having been listed for 65 years.

  20. Chairman, Paul Simons and Managing Director, Harry Watts, acknowledge success of Float


    1993: Woolworths Share Float

    On 19 May 1993 the Chairman, Paul Simons announced that Woolworths Ltd would be offered to the public in the largest share float in Australian history. The Company was re-listed on the stock exchange in June 1993. Included in the shareholders were 19,000 members of Woolworths’ staff offered shares under the Employee Share Plan.
  21. Meeting of one of the “Project Refresh” Teams


    1999: Project Refresh announced

    Project Refresh is the business change program for Woolworths which began in August 1999. The task of Project Refresh is to refocus the ways in which Woolworths does business by looking for best practice across the Group and ways to improve efficiency while eliminating waste and duplication.
  22. The Sail & Anchor Hotel, Fremantle, WA


    2004: Acquisition of Australian Leisure and Hospitality

    Woolworths significantly expanded its liquor and hotel operations as a result of the acquisition of Australian Leisure and Hospitality Limited (ALH).
  23. Hostesses greet customers at opening of Sylvia Park, Auckland, NZ, Foodtown Supermarket


    2005: Woolworths acquires Foodland New Zealand

    Woolworths reached an arrangement to acquire from Foodland Australia Limited (FAL) their New Zealand supermarket businesses, together with 22 Action stores in Australia.
  24. First customers at Croma store, Mumbai, India


    2006: DSE joint venture in India

    The first Croma store opened in Mumbai, India in October. Croma is India’s first chain of multi-brand outlets for consumer electronics and durable products. Woolworths is the wholesaler who provides products to Croma to sell. Woolworths determines the range of products and, under a franchise agreement, also provides support in the areas of IT, training and store layout.
  25. First Masters site Braybrook Victoria


    2009: Woolworths enters a joint venture with US Home Improvement retailer Lowe's

    Woolworths enters a joint venture with US Home Improvement retailer Lowe’s, launches the Masters Home Improvement business and acquires the Danks Group of hardware businesses.
  26. Macro Own Brand


    2010: Woolworths Supermarkets Launch Macro Own Brand

    Macro own brand range launched
  27. The Tool Shop


    2011: First Masters Home Improvement Store opens in Braybrook Victoria

    Masters opens its first store in Braybrook Victoria, offering a a brand new retail experience Australians haven't seen before.
  28. 2011

    2011: Cellarmasters (online liquor retail group) acquisition completed

    Woolworths aquires Cellarmasters, an online liquor retail group.
  29. 2013

    2013: Woolworths celebrates 20 Years on the Australian Stock Exchange