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BI-LO (Australia)

BI-LO is a major Australian supermarket chain owned by Wesfarmers (formerly Coles Group). Most BI-LO supermarkets have been re-branded as Coles Supermarkets, however the conversion was halted in March 2007 due to poor sales at already converted stores.


BI-LO was established by John Weekes in Adelaide during the late 1970s. The first stores opened at Stirling and Aldgate in South Australia's Adelaide Hills region after being converted from hardware outlets, followed by the acquisition of a third store at Murray Bridge. Coles Myer cited that by 1979, BI-LO was South Australia's cheapest grocer.

By 1987, BI-LO was operating 28 supermarkets in South Australia and generating one third of metropolitan Adelaide’s supermarket sales, when it was acquired by Coles Myer, which also purchased the 34-store Shoeys discount supermarket chain in New South Wales (subsequently re-named as BI-LO). BI-LO would later expand into Queensland and Victoria.

In December 1984, BI-LO opened its first Mega Frrresh store at Greenacres, SA, in response to its then chief competitor Franklins "Big Fresh" concept. In 1996, BI-LO acquired six Newmart supermarkets in Western Australia although the Newmart name was retained due to its strong brand identification. In 1998, BI-LO purchased three Northern Territory supermarkets in Darwin and Alice Springs. In 1999, the slogan "Extra Value For You" was launched.

BI-LO/Newmart opened nine new stores and completed 23 refurbishments in 2000, and opened 26 more stores and completed 11 refurbishments in 2001. The last Newmart stores in Western Australia to open before the chain was absorbed into Coles Supermarkets were at Garden City, Booragoon (October 2000) and at the Ocean Keys Shopping Centre in Clarkson, Western Australia (July 2001). The Garden City store became an Action Supermarket, then later became a Woolworths Supermarket. The Ocean Keys store became a Coles Supermarket.

In 2002, BI-LO acquired and converted 15 Franklins sites, in New South Wales (Warilla Grove, Campbelltown - now Coles, Hillsdale - closed 2003, Mt Druitt - closed 2005, Shellharbour, Lavington, Thirroul), Queensland (Kawana, Capalaba, Hope Island, Loganholme), Victoria (Southland, Waverley Gardens - closed 2004, Lalor, Broadmeadows) and South Australia (Unley - closed 2005). Around 820 former Franklins employees were offered positions at BI-LO. BI-LO also opened 7 stores and a Bi-Lo Discount Petrol site at Narrandera, New South Wales. In August of that year, all Newmart Supermarkets operated by BI-LO in Western Australia were transferred to the management of Coles Supermarkets. In 2004, BI-LO relaunched with the slogan "Why Pay More".

In July 2006 Coles Myer CEO John Fletcher announced a strategy to progressively rebrand BI-LO, Kmart, First Choice Liquor, Liquorland and Theo's under the Coles banner. Re-branding BI-LO stores began later in 2006 and had been expected to be completed by mid 2007. A small number of stores were to be re-branded Coles Discount Grocery where a Coles Supermarket already exists in the same complex (for example, at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. Some stores, such as BI-LO Arkaba in South Australia, were originally Coles Supermarkets before being converted to BI-LO in the late 1990s.

Coles Group announced in March 2007 it was "pausing" the conversion of BI-LO stores to Coles, following the poor results of the 129 stores converted thus far.

BI-LO has a strong emphasis on fresh foods, combined with an extensive range of groceries at discount prices. At its peak it had more than 180 stores and employed 13,600 people. BI-LO has its own brand of discount products and participated in many store promotions such as FlyBuys and petrol saving clubs. Its mascot is the "BI-LO Docket" and previously had stores in Western Australia trading under the name Newmart until 2002 when they were sold to and re-branded as Coles supermarkets.

Coles Conversion

In 2006, Coles Group announced its plan to re-brand all Coles Group businesses (excluding Target and Officeworks) under the Coles name. BI-LO stores were to be converted to Coles Supermarkets, with others changing to other Coles Group businesses or closing. Coles planned to keep many BI-LO lines in its converted stores, with Coles various home brands replacing some but not all of the BI-LO brand lines.

However, Coles Group announced in March 2007 it was "pausing" the conversion of BI-LO stores to Coles, following the poor results of the 129 stores converted thus far. Market analysts commented that the conversion program was unsuccessful due to Coles' transforming of stores in affluent areas first, the replacement of BI-LO's budget items with more expensive equivalents, and the removal of trademark budget meat packs. The BI-LO stores remaining are mostly located in Queensland and northern New South Wales.


BI-LO and Newmart advertised on TV, radio, newspapers, catalogues and on their website. Between 2000 and 2005, TV cook Iain Hewitson was the face of BI-LO and Newmart supermarkets across Australia, with BI-LO sponsoring and supplying his cooking shows. The slogan used between 1999 and 2004 was "Extra Value for You—and Me" which was replaced by the current one, "Why Pay More!". Then in late 2005, the "BI-LO docket" was adopted as BI-LO's mascot and replaced Huey as the face of BI-LO. At the same time, the second slogan "It's the total of the docket that counts!" was introduced. In an advertising campaign launched in 2003, a range of customers were asked the question "Why do you shop at BI-LO?" from which there were many very positive responses. As of May 2007, despite the conversion of BI-LO stores to Coles which has been put on hold for the time being, BI-LO launched a new advertising campaign in the style of an election campaign for BI-LO prominently featuring the "BI-LO Docket" with a new second slogan "Reduce the total of your docket!" Previous slogans also include "We Do, You Do" and "Cheap Groceries".


Each BI-LO supermarket stocks around 16,000 different products with a strong emphasis on fresh foods with the biggest BI-LO/Newmart stores stocking more than 22,000 product lines including more than 500 quality fresh produce items.


BI-LO Mega Frrresh

In response to its main competitor Franklins launching "Franklins Big Fresh" in the early 1990s, BI-LO launched its Mega Frrresh brand with its first store in Greenacres in Adelaide in 1994 using the same format. Like Franklins Big Fresh, it combined discount shopping of a regular BI-LO supermarket with a "market-style" atmosphere and its fresh food departments feature market-style canopies. BI-LO Mega Frrresh is the discount mega store format of BI-LO supplying all grocery item needs at the lowest expense. Mega Frrresh stores remain in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.


Up until 2003, BI-LO also had stores trading under the name Newmart in Western Australia. The Newmart group of six supermarkets was purchased by BI-LO in 1996 for $AUD16 million. Newmart had been a small independent discount supermarket chain in Perth, with a similar concept to BI-LO: the stores were equipped with a range of discount groceries, bulk foods, extensive fresh produce, meat and delicatessen sections.The name was retained due to its strong identification (which has a tick next to the name) and because the BI-LO name was already being used by FAL as the name of a now-defunct independent supermarket chain operating in Western Australia at the time. It was the equivalent of BI-LO in Western Australia and was also owned and operated by Coles Myer Limited (Now Coles Group) in parallel to Coles Supermarkets.

The Newmart chain in Western Australia grew progressively, with nine stores by 1998, 14 by 2000, 16 by 2001, and 18 by 2002. Like BI-LO, Newmart launched the slogan "Extra Value for You" in 1999 and launched its own website which was redirected to the Coles site in 2006.

Demise of Newmart

In August 2002, all Newmart supermarkets were transferred to the management of Coles supermarkets, with 7 stores rebranded to the Coles name, although Newmart, as a separate discount supermarket chain, continued operating as it was before the transfer. Then in 2003, Coles abandoned the brand and sold 4 stores to Foodland Associated Limited re-branding those stores as Action Supermarkets. The remaining stores were rebranded as Coles Supermarkets.


Main Competitors


Former competitors


External links

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