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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 as at 2015 operated 186 stores, with around 22,000 employees across Australia and Asia.
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. The first Big W department store opened in 1964 at Jesmond, New South Wales. Big W’s name reflects the complementary relationship it has with Woolworths Supermarkets. 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).
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 2 in the Northern Territory.
In 2007, Big W began trialling 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. Big W were the second 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.
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 over 186 stores across Australia.
Future of Big W
Speculation regarding the future of Big W rose following losses reported in August 2016 and the resignation of its chief executive in November 2016.
Big W posted a loss of $150.5 million in the year to June 2017.
- Sales report. “Full Year Results – Financial Year 2015” (PDF). Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- “Store Finder”. Big W.
- Big W Vision – Optical Locations
- “Party Stores”. Big W.
- “Big W turnaround in doubt after chief executive’s shock departure”. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- “Analysts split on the future of Big W”. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Chung, Frank (23 August 2017). “Woolworths reports full-year profit of $1.53 billion”. News Ltd. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
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