Woolworths, best known as Woolies, got its start back in 1924 when it opened in Sydney as Woolworths Stupendous Bargain Basement. The new store was unique at the time and the first variety store to print out receipts for customers, rather than handwritten notes.
The company began to expand, with Woolworths New Zealand opening in 1956, along with stores in Brisbane and Perth. By the end of 1933, despite the Great Depression, the company had 23 stores and opened its first store in Melbourne in 1936.
By 1955 the company had 200 stores. In 1997, the first Metro convenience store opened in Sydney. The company opened a buying office in Hong Kong in June 2006 which allowed them to cut prices by cutting out the middle man. That same year, the company announced a joint venture with the India-based Tata Group to sell Dick Smith electronics in India and it introduced self-serve checkouts at some locations.
Today, this conglomerate includes supermarkets (under the Woolworths name in Australia and the Countdown name in New Zealand), liquor retailing (as BWS and Dan Murphy’s in Australia), hotels and pubs under the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group umbrella, and discount department stores under the Big W name in Australia.
In June 2019, the company announced that it was increasing the price of milk, but it is unclear if dairy farmers are going to benefit from this price increase.
Also in June 2019, a popular ice cream cake, Bulla Ready to Decorate, was pulled from store shelves over fears that the cake might contain undeclared allergens, which could pose a health risk.
Company headquarters are located in Bella Vista, New South Wales.