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Safeway was the trading name used by Woolworths Limited until 2008 for its supermarkets in Victoria, Australia. Elsewhere in Australia the trading name is Woolworths. In August 2008, Woolworths announced the discontinuation of the Safeway name, rebranding all Victorian stores as Woolworths to match their interstate counterparts.
The American company Safeway Inc. entered the Australian grocery market in 1963 with the purchase of three Pratt’s supermarkets. Bill Pratt had taken over the Pratt’s supermarket in Frankston, Victoria, in 1946, and he was a pioneer of self-service and supermarkets in the 1950s. Pratt caught the eye of the Safeway company. Bill Pratt took the helm of Safeway’s Australian operations in 1967.
The subsidiary Safeway Australia was created, and by 1985 the chain had grown to 126 supermarkets trading under the Safeway banner across Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. Safeway’s stores in New South Wales were named “Red S” because Safeway infringed the registered trademark of another supermarket called “Saveway”. The distribution centre located in Wellington Road, Mulgrave, Victoria, formerly housed Safeway’s head office.
Acquisition by Woolworths
In 1985 Australia’s second largest supermarket operator, Woolworths Limited, successfully acquired the Safeway, Inc., Australian interests. In the agreement, Woolworths Limited acquired all of the Safeway stores and the naming rights in exchange for a 19.99% interest in Woolworths Limited (which has since been sold).
The Safeway stores in New South Wales and Queensland were renamed as Woolworths Supermarkets. However, the Safeway stores in Victoria retained their name, and all Victorian Woolworths stores were transferred to the Safeway banner. Mr. J.W.R. Pratt, the Chairman and Managing Director of Australian Safeway Stores and Mr. P.A. Magowan, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Safeway Stores Inc (USA) were also appointed to the Woolworths Board of Directors.
In 1987, Woolworths and Safeway Supermarkets launched “The Fresh Food People” campaign, adopting a uniform company logo and marketing strategy.
Use of Safeway brand
From Woolworths’ takeover of Australian Safeway in 1985 until 2008 Safeway remained as the brand name used by Woolworths Supermarkets in Victoria (aside from two in Mildura and one in Belgrave) as well as the border town of Albury in NSW. During the 1980s and 1990s the Mildura stores moved from Woolworths to Safeway and back again, while the Karingal Woolworths store remained so until the late 1990s. The brand also followed Woolworths Supermarkets’ progression into liquor trading as Safeway Liquor, and into petrol trading as Caltex Safeway. By 2008 there were 189 Safeway-branded supermarkets in Victoria.
Rebranding of Safeway to Woolworths
On 22 August 2008, Woolworths announced it was launching a new identity for all its supermarkets and plans to replace the Safeway brand in Victoria, in order to unite all of its supermarkets under one common brand “Woolworths”.
The logo, which had been in use for 21 years, was replaced with a brand image with a new green tinted icon representing the “W” in Woolworths with the addition of a stylized leaf to suggest fresh produce. It is also reminiscent of a 1970s Woolworths logo. However, the company’s slogan, “The Fresh Food People”, which is known throughout Australia, remains as a part of the new branding.
Woolworths indicated that Safeway supermarkets at Camberwell and Preston would be among the first to be re-branded. However, a newly constructed supermarket at Chadstone Shopping Centre became the first Safeway to be re-branded as a Woolworths prior to opening. The entire re-branding process had been calculated to take approximately five years, ending in early 2013, however several stores were still operating as Safeway past the expected completion period. On June 6, 2017, the final Safeway-branded supermarket in Wodonga closed and was rebranded as Woolworths, ending the Safeway brand after 54 years in Australia.
- Sharp, Ari (2008-08-21). “Woolies shelves Safeway brand”. The Age, Melbourne. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- Bill Pratt (2006). My Safeway Story: Making it Happen. Brolga Publishing.
- “Gandel and Colonial Open $140 Million Wing of Chadstone Shopping Centre”. Archived from the original on 25 January 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
- “Farewell to Safeway. Welcome to Woolworths” (PDF). Woolworths Limited. 22 August 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
- “Woolworths launches new look after 21 years” (PDF). Woolworths Limited. 22 August 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
- “Opening Offers” (PDF). Colonial First State Property Management Pty Ltd. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/4713811/jobs-created-as-woolworths-opens-photos-video/ Retrieved 2018-02-24.
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