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Coles Celebrates 100 Years of Australian Owned Quality, Service and Value

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Coles is now in its centenary year, celebrating 100 years as an Australian-owned retail business focused on quality, service and value. These three principles are what the company was built upon and still remain at the center of everything Coles strives to do.

January 2014

GJ Coles and his brother James opened the first Coles Store on 9 April 1914, located on Smith Street in Collingwood, Victoria. Coles was Australia’s very first variety store, focused on providing Australian families great value with nothing over two shillings and supporting Australian suppliers.

Throughout 2014, Coles will be marking this milestone and Coles' transformation from its humble beginnings with just six team members, to becoming one of Australia’s largest employers, with 100,000 team members serving over 19 million customers a week.

Ian McLeod, Coles Managing Director says, “2014 is an important year for Coles as we celebrate the fact that we have now been serving our customers for 100 years. During the course of the year, we will celebrate this event with our customers, team members and suppliers to commemorate this great Coles community and our uniquely Australian story.” “GJ Coles was a businessman, a family man and a philanthropist - dedicated to providing both great quality and great value, as well as a strong commitment to customer and community service. 100 years on and Coles remains true to the core principles of its founder and we will continue to strive to do so, keeping our customers at the heart of everything we do.”

Coles is looking to expand its Australia First sourcing policy in its centenary year – reinforcing another foundation of the Coles business.

In 1930, GJ Coles, the Founder of Coles said, “A very important thing to remember when purchasing is to order Australian-made goods, as this obviously creates more employment in Australia than does the handling of goods produced elsewhere.”*

To mark the first of our centenary celebrations, Coles has recreated the original store at 288 Smith Street in Melbourne’s Collingwood for a day, on Monday 20th January. Coles is also rebuilding a brand new supermarket at the site of its second store in Australia, just up the road at 170 Smith Street.

Since its first day of operations, Coles has grown to now:

  • Operate over 2,300 stores

  • Employs 100,000 team members

  • Coles’ first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Plan was launched in 2011

  • Coles now spends over $30 million a year supporting community charities, including Landcare, Cancer Council, Foodbank, Australian Red Cross, Guide Dogs and SecondBite

  • Coles is buying 15,000 more truckloads of Australian fruit and veg compared to five years ago

  • Since Australia Day 2013, Coles has raised over $6.5 million for Redkite

*Colesanco Staff Journal, April 1932, Page 21

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