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Wesfarmers Limited is an Australian conglomerate, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, with interests predominantly in Australian and New Zealand retail, chemicals, fertilisers, coal mining and industrial and safety products. With AU$65.98 billion in the 2016 financial year, it is the largest Australian company by revenue, overtaking Woolworths and BHP Billiton.[3] Wesfarmers is the largest private employer in Australia, with approximately 205,000 employees.[2]

Wesfarmers Limited
Traded as ASXWES
Industry Conglomerate
Founded 1914
Headquarters 40 The Esplanade
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Area served
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Key people
Michael Chaney, Chairman
Richard Goyder, CEO
Revenue A$65.98 billion (2016)
A$3.61 billion (2016)
Profit A$2.35 billion (2016)
Total assets A$40.78 billion (2016)
Total equity A$22.95 billion (2016)
Number of employees
Subsidiaries Bunnings Warehouse, Coles Supermarkets, BI-LO, Pick 'n Pay Hypermarket, Coles Express, Coles Central, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice Liquor Superstore, Officeworks, Officeworks BusinessDirect, Harris Technology, Kmart, Kmart Tyre & Auto Service, Target, Homebase, Curragh Queensland Mining, Bengalla Mining Company*, Koukia*, Blackwoods, Bakers, Total Fasteners, Bullivants, Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety NZ, CSBP, PB Workwear, Australian Gold Reagents*, Kleenheat, Unigas*, Coregas, Gresham Partners Group*, Wespine Industries*
* Joint ventures
Footnotes / references

Wesfarmers was founded in 1914 as a co-operative to provide services and merchandise to Western Australian farmers. It was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 1984 and grew into a major retail conglomerate.



Westralian Farmers Co‐operative Limited was formed in 1914 as a cooperative company by the Farmers' and Settlers' Association of Western Australia, to acquire the assets of the West Australian Producers' Union, to be focused on the provision of services and merchandise to the Western Australian rural community.[4][5] By 1919 more than 65 local co-operative companies were acting as agents for Westralian Farmers Limited.[6]

In 1924, it established the first public radio station in Western Australia with 6WF before it passed into the hands of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1929.

By the 1940s the company's business included "being wheat and general merchants; country distribution for Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd; wool, live stock, skin and produce auctioneers; grain & fruit exporters; insurance underwriters; acquiring agents for the wheat pool of W.A." Known as Westralian Farmers Limited, it had premises in various locations within the Perth central business district. In the 1940s there were premises at 563-571 Wellington Street. They also had premises in Newman Street in Fremantle.

In 1949 Wesfarmers purchased Ashburton Transport who at the time were making losses the following year they also purchased its major competitor Gascoyne Trading combining the operations of the two companies to supply the northwest of Western Australia. Along with wool, and mail they carted Bananas from Carnarvon to Perth return with stores and mail from Perth to the region with many of the destination they serviced previously having no road access. Gascoyne Trading introduced refrigerated transport to region and 3 trailer road trains which now carry loads up to 115tonnes.[7][8][9]

In 1984 Westralian Farmers Co-operative Limited formed Wesfarmers Limited, restructuring from a co-operative to a public company and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange on 15 November 1984. Initially the Co-operative retained 60% of the ordinary shares, guaranteeing that the co-op's farmer members retained control, and the rest were distributed to its members.[10]

In 1991, 19 m³ of the records of Westralian Farmers Co-operative were deposited with the J S Battye Library in Perth.

Rural business, Dalgety Farmers and Wesfarmers LandmarkEdit

Bought in January 1993 the integration of Dalgety Farmers with Wesfarmers proved more difficult than expected. For a time the merged rural agency and merchandise business was Wesfarmers Dalgety until renamed Wesfarmers Landmark in March 2001 after IAMA Limited was brought in. Landmark, Wesfarmers foundation business, was sold to AWB Limited (originally the Australia Wheat Board) in August 2003.[11]


An initial investment in 10 per cent of Bunnings in February 1987 reached full ownership in January 1994. UK retailer Homebase was bought in February 2016 and Britain's first Bunnings store opened twelve months later in February 2017.[11]

Australian Railroad GroupEdit

Begun in a joint venture with Genesee & Wyoming by the purchase of Westrail at the beginning of 2000 Australian Railroad Group was sold in 2006 to Babcock & Brown and Queensland Rail.[11]

End of co-operative ownershipEdit

In 2001 Wesfarmers become a freely-traded publicly listed company with open ownership.[10] After becoming a public company, Wesfarmers diversified its interests by acquiring other businesses.



On 2 July 2007, Wesfarmers announced it was purchasing the Coles Group retail business for A$22 billion making it the largest successful take-over in Australian corporate history. Wesfarmers took control of Coles on 23 November 2007, after paying almost A$20 billion for the company. Wesfarmers had already purchased 13 per cent of the retailer in April.[12][13]

Coles is a national supermarket, liquor, fuel and convenience retailer in Australia. As of September 2013, Coles operates 756 full-service supermarkets, 810 liquor outlets, 92 hotels, and 636 fuel and convenience stores. Coles employs more than 105,000 staff.[14] Coles' businesses include Coles Supermarkets, Coles Online, Coles Express, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice Liquor Superstore, BI-LO, Coles Financial Services and Liquorland.

Home Improvement and Office SuppliesEdit

This division is made up of Bunnings Warehouse, a retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products, servicing home and commercial customers in Australia and New Zealand, and Officeworks, a retailer and supplier of office products for home, business and education in Australia. There are 210 Bunnings "warehouse" (larger) stores, 67 Bunnings small format stores, 36 Bunnings Trade centres and 150 Officeworks stores. Bunnings employs more than 33,000 staff and Officeworks employs more than 6,000 staff.[14]

In January 2016, Home Retail Group accepted an offer from Wesfarmers to acquire the British home improvement retailer and garden centre Homebase. Homebase stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland will reportedly be rebranded as Bunnings as part of the takeover.[15]

Department StoresEdit

In February 2016, Wesfarmers announced a restructure of its department store businesses into a single division named Department Stores, with each brand continuing to operate independently.[16]


Kmart is a discount department store retailer in Australia and New Zealand, and a provider of retail automotive services, repairs and tyres in Australia. Kmart has 190 Kmart stores and 263 Kmart Tyre & Auto Service centres. Kmart employs more than 31,000 staff.[14]


Target is a department store retailer in Australia. Target has 183 Target stores and 125 Target Country stores. Target employs more than 24,000 staff.[14] In 2014, Wesfarmers was forced to write-down the value of Target by $680 million because of a fall in the company's profits.[17]


In August 2015, Wesfarmers announced an organisational restructure to cluster its three industrial businesses, Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers (WesCEF); Resources; and Industrial and Safety (WIS) into a single, new Industrials division.[18]

Chemicals, Energy & FertilisersEdit

Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF) produces and markets chemicals, fertilisers and gas products. WesCEF has ammonia and ammonium nitrate production facilities in Western Australia, 50% of QNP ammonium nitrate production facilities in Queensland, sodium cyanide production facilities in Western Australia, PVC resin and specialty chemicals production facilities in Victoria, LPG and LNG distribution across Australia with LPG and LNG production facilities in Western Australia and fertiliser production and importation facilities in Western Australia. WesCEF employs more than 1,500 staff.[14] WesCEF businesses include CSBP, Australian Vinyls, AGR, QNP, Evol LNG, Kleenheat and Modwood.


Wesfarmers Resources owns and operates world-scale open-cut coal producing resources in Australia, and has Curragh in Queensland which produces metallurgical coal for export and steaming coal for domestic power generation and 40% of Bengalla in New South Wales, which is operated by Coal & Allied and produces export steaming coal for Asia. Wesfarmers Resources employs more than 650 staff.[14]

Industrial and SafetyEdit

Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety provides industrial and safety products and services in Australia and New Zealand. On 1 December 2014, Wesfamers Industrial and Safety completed the acquisition of the Workwear Group of Pacific Brands Limited.[19] Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety businesses include Blackwoods, NZ Safety, Greencap,[20] Bullivants, Coregas, Blackwoods Protector, Safety Source, Total Fasteners, Packaging House, King Gee, Hard Yakka, Stubbies and GotStock.

Other activitiesEdit

Wesfarmers has a 50% interest in investment house Gresham Partners plus interests in Gresham Private Equity Funds, 50% interest in Wespine, a plantation softwood sawmill in Dardanup and a 24% interest in BWP Trust which mainly owns Bunnings Warehouses tenanted by Bunnings Group Limited.[14]

Other businessesEdit

Wesfarmers has 100% interest in many other subsidiaries across Australia, New Zealand, India, New Caledonia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Bermuda and Singapore. These include BBC Hardware, Coles Ansett Travel, Coles Group Superannuation Fund, Coles Property Management, Comnet, Fosseys, Grocery Holdings Pty Ltd, Harris Technology, Howard Smith, Katies Fashions, Loyalty Pacific, Masters Home Improvement New Zealand, Morley Shopping Centre,, Theo's Liquor, Tooronga Shopping Centre, Tyremaster, Viking Direct and World 4 Kids.[14]

Former interestsEdit


On 16 June 2014, Wesfarmers completed the sale of its insurance broking and premium funding operations, including OAMPS Insurance Brokers in Australia, OAMPS UK, Crombie Lockwood in New Zealand, Lumley Finance and Monument Premium Financing to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.[21] On 30 June 2014, Wesfarmers completed the sale of its insurance underwriting operations, including the WFI and Lumley brands, to the Insurance Australia Group.[22]

Company executivesEdit

Chief executives / general managers / managing directors[23]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "2015 Annual Report". Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Hatch, Patrick. "Coles owner Wesfarmers moves up to Australia's top company by revenue, beating Woolworths, Rio Tinto and BHP". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "Farmers and Settlers' Association of Western Australia". The Midlands Advertiser. Moora, WA. 7 November 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  5. ^ See Western Australian Farmers Federation for the relationship between the Co-operative and the CBH Group in its early history
  6. ^ "Growth of the local co-op". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Acquisition of Gascoyne Trading". Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Hartley, L.R (1995). Fatigue and Driving: Driver Impairment, Driver Fatigue, And Driving Simulation. CRC Press. 
  9. ^ "Heritage Council of WA - Places Database". Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  10. ^ a b "Public listing". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c "Our History". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  12. ^ Peter Ryan (2 July 2007). "Coles board recommends $22b takeover offer". ABC News online. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  13. ^ Carson, Vanda (2 July 2007). "Wesfarmers buys Coles". The Age. Melbourne, Vic. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "Wesfarmers Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bunnings to hit UK in $705m Homebase deal". 18 January 2016. 
  16. ^ "New Department Stores division and senior management changes". Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "Big shakeout for Wesfarmers", Financial Review, 3 July 2014. Accessed 16 June 2015
  18. ^ "Wesfarmers organisational restructure and senior management changes". Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  19. ^ "Acquisition of Pacific Brands Workwear Completed". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "greencap about". Retrieved 2 November 2017. 
  21. ^ "Completion of Sale of Insurance Broking and Premium Funding". Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "Completion of Sale of Insurance Underwriting Operations". Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Leadership

Further readingEdit

  • Smith, Kevin P.(1984) A bunch of pirates: the story of a farmer co-operative: Wesfarmers Perth, W.A : Westralian Farmers Co-operative. ISBN 0-9591897-0-X
  • (2003) 50 years of powering Western Australia : from Western Colleries to Wesfarmers Coal. Collie, W.A.: Wesfarmers Premier Coal.
  • Thompson, Peter (2014) Wesfarmers 100: The People's Story 1914-2014 Perth, W.A. ISBN 9781742584997

External linksEdit