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Latest Deals | 13th August 2022




Woolworths is a premium retailer that has been active in South Africa for almost 90 years.

Woolworths is a food, clothing, beauty and homeware retailer that was established in 1931. The company was founded by Max Sonnenberg, who fashioned it after the Woolworths chain of department stores operating in Australia. In October 1931, Sonnenberg along with his son, Richard, opened the first store in the Old Royal Hotel which was situated on Plein Street in Cape Town. Within 5 years, Woolworths had opened four more stores in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. After World War II, Woolworths formed a relationship with UK retailer, Marks & Spencers, which bought all of Woolworth’s unissued shares in 1947. From early on, Woolworths positioned itself as a pioneer in the retail sector in the country, not only focusing on growth but also considering working conditions and responsible business practices. The retailer was among the first to offer employee benefits such as maternity leave and a pension fund to its workers. This ensured that Woolworths recruited the best employees, who remained loyal to the company. In 1981, Woolworths merged with Truworths to form the Wooltru Group. The partnership lasted until 1997 when Woolworths unbundled and listed as Woolworths Holdings Limited on the JSE.

Woolworths differentiates itself from other South African retailers because the bulk of the products offered by the retailer are manufactured under private labels. The retailer has a reputation for quality and premium pricing, with its in-house food store – known as the Food Market – selling a range of ready-prepared food, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and a variety of bread. There is also a limited range of everyday groceries, with the top-selling national brands being available alongside the private labels. While Woolworths has always offered quality private label clothing in their stores, the retailer started investing in premium clothing brands, mainly from Australia, and using the store-in-store concept to incorporate them in the large format outlets. Brands such as Trenery and Country Road were the first to be introduced. In 2014, Woolworths’ holding company fully acquired Country Road. Today, Woolworths has approximately 400 corporate and franchise stores serving upper-income customers. The retailer also has a WRewards loyalty programme that was launched in September 2010 and as of 2016, the programme had 3.2 million active members. The company has a major focus on sustainability and launched the Woolworth’s Good Business Journey in 2005 to oversee these initiatives.

Woolworths was the first local retailer to introduce sell-by dates on their products in 1974, creating a new standard in food safety.



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