Wesfarmers

Wesfarmers Limited is an Australian conglomerate, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia. It has interests predominantly in Australian and New Zealand, operating in retail, chemical, fertiliser, industrial and safety products. With revenue of A$30.8 billion in the 2020 financial year,[1] it is one of Australia's largest companies by revenue. Wesfarmers is also one of the largest private employers in Australia, with approximately 107,000 employees.[1]

Wesfarmers
TypePublic
ASXWES
IndustryConglomerate
Founded1914
HeadquartersPerth, Western Australia
Area served
  • Australia
  • India
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
Key people
RevenueIncrease $30.8 billion (2020)[1]
Decrease $1.6–2.1 billion (2020)[1]
Total assets$25.4 billion (2020)[1]
Number of employees
107,000 (2020)[1]
Subsidiaries
  • Bunnings Group:
    Bunnings Warehouse, Bunnings, Bunnings Trade, Adelaide Tools
  • Kmart Group:
    Kmart, Target, Catch.com.au
  • Officeworks Group:
    Officeworks, Geeks2U
  • Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers:
    CSBP, Covalent Lithium, QNP, AGA, Australian Vinyls, Modwood, Kleenheat, Evol LNG, Decipher
  • Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety:
    Blackwoods, NZ Safety Blackwoods, Work Wear, CoreGas, GreenCap
  • Other:
    Coles (5%), flybuys (50%), BWP Trust (25%), Gresham (50%), Wespine (50%)
Websitewesfarmers.com.au
Footnotes / references
Subsidiaries according to the Wesfarmers 2020 Annual Report[1]

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.

HistoryEdit

 
1930s letterhead with company details of that time

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.[2][3] By 1919, more than 65 local co-operative companies were acting as agents for Westralian Farmers Limited.[4]

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, now called ABC Radio Perth

By the 1940s, the company's business included "being wheat and general merchants; country distribution for Commonwealth Oil Refineries; wool, livestock, 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. It also had premises in Newman Street in Fremantle.

In 1949, Wesfarmers acquired Ashburton Transport, which at the time was lossmaking. The following year it also acquired its major competitor Gascoyne Trading, combining the operations of the two companies to supply the northwest of Western Australia. Along with wool and mail, it carted bananas from Carnarvon to Perth, returning with stores and mail from Perth. Gascoyne Trading introduced refrigerated transport to the region and three trailer road trains that now carry loads up to 115 tonnes.[5][6][7]

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 was distributed to its members.[8]

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.[9]

BunningsEdit

An initial investment in 10 percent of Bunnings in February 1987 reached full ownership in January 1994. Bunnings bought UK retailer Homebase in February 2016 and Britain's first Bunnings store opened twelve months later in February 2017.[9] They were 265 well-located stores and Wesfarmers believed Bunnings' management would greatly improve their modest profits. The plan was to make changes gently but tactics changed and local management, perceived as under-performing, was removed and replaced by expatriate management. The expatriate management's changes alienated the existing customer base and, aided by a poor retailing climate, brought a rapid decline into losses. A strategic review by Wesfarmers resulted in the May 2018 sale of the Homebase business to Hilco Capital at a loss of (Australian) $1.96 billion.[10]

Australian Railroad GroupEdit

Australian Railroad Group begun in a joint venture with Genesee & Wyoming by the purchase of Westrail at the beginning of 2000. It was sold in 2006 to Babcock & Brown and Queensland Rail.[9]

End of co-operative ownershipEdit

In 2001, Wesfarmers become a freely-traded publicly listed company with open ownership.[8] After becoming a public company, Wesfarmers diversified its interests by acquiring other businesses.

DivisionsEdit

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.[11]

In January 2016, Home Retail Group accepted an offer from Wesfarmers to acquire the British home improvement retailer and garden centre Homebase. Stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland began to be rebranded as Bunnings following the takeover.[12] However, following Wesfarmer's sale of Homebase to Hilco in May 2018,[13] it was reported that the 24 stores already converted would return to the "Homebase" branding.[13]

Kmart GroupEdit

In February 2016, Wesfarmers announced a restructure of its department store businesses into a single division named Department Stores, with each brand (Kmart and Target) continuing to operate independently.[14] The division was later renamed Kmart Group, and expanded to incorporate online retailer Catch.

KmartEdit

Kmart is a discount department store retailer in Australia and New Zealand. Kmart has more than 200 stores around Australia and New Zealand, employing more than 31,000 staff.[11] Kmart Tyre and Auto is no longer a part of Kmart after parent Wesfarmers sold the auto division to German company Continental AG.[15] Kmart Tyre and Auto has since been rebranded by Continental AG to MyCar.

TargetEdit

Target is a mid-level department store retailer in Australia. Target employs more than 24,000 staff.[11] In 2014, Wesfarmers was forced to write-down the value of Target by $680 million because of a fall in the company's profits.[16] Target Australia has no connection to the American retailer Target of similar name.

IndustrialsEdit

In August 2015, Wesfarmers announced an organisational restructure to cluster its three industrial businesses, Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF); Resources; and Industrial and Safety (WIS) into a single, new Industrials division.[17]

Wesfarmers 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 1,200 staff.[11] WesCEF businesses include CSBP, Australian Vinyls, AGR, QNP, Evol LNG, Kleenheat and Modwood.

Wesfarmers 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.[18] Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety businesses include Blackwoods, NZ Safety, Greencap,[19] 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.[11]

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, now.com.au, Theo's Liquor, Tooronga Shopping Centre, Tyremaster, Viking Direct and World 4 Kids.[11]

Former interestsEdit

InsuranceEdit

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.[20] On 30 June 2014, Wesfarmers completed the sale of its insurance underwriting operations, including the WFI and Lumley brands, to the Insurance Australia Group.[21]

ColesEdit

On 2 July 2007, Wesfarmers announced it was purchasing the Coles Group retail business for $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 $20 billion for the company. Wesfarmers had already purchased 13 per cent of the retailer in April.[22][23]

Coles is a national supermarket, liquor, fuel and convenience retailer in Australia. As of September 2013, Coles operated 756 full-service supermarkets, 810 liquor outlets, 92 hotels, and 636 fuel and convenience stores. Coles employs more than 105,000 staff.[11] Coles' businesses include Coles Supermarkets, Coles Online, Coles Express, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice Liquor Superstore, BI-LO, Coles Financial Services and Liquorland.

On 16 March 2018, Wesfarmers held a meeting to discuss its intention to demerge Coles,[24][25] The demerger was effective from 21 November 2018 with Wesfarmers retaining a 15% shareholding.[26] During 2020 Wesfarmers reduced its equity in Coles to 4.9%.[27]

Wesfarmers ResourcesEdit

Wesfarmers Resources owned and operated open-cut coal producing resources in Australia including the Curragh in Queensland. Wesfarmers divested its coal business, completing the process with the sale of its 40 per cent interest in the Bengalla Joint Venture to New Hope Corporation for $860 million on 3 December 2018.[28]

Wesfarmers TransportEdit

In 1950 Wesfarmers purchased the Gascoyne Trading Company (GTC), growing it to become the largest transport operator in Western Australia.[29][30] Until 1971 it held the sole rights for direct road transport between Carnarvon and Perth.[31] In 1973 a joint venture was formed with Downard to enter the interstate freight forwarding market between Western Australia and Victoria.[32]

In 1985, GTC purchased a 50% shareholding in Total West from Mayne Nickless.[33] In 1996, after taking full ownership of Total West, Wesfarmers merged it with GTC to form Wesfarmers Transport.[34][35] In 2001 the business was sold to Toll Holdings.[36][37]

Company executivesEdit

Chairmen[38]
Chief executives / general managers / managing directors[38]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "2020 Annual Report" (PDF). Wesfarmers. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Farmers and Settlers' Association of Western Australia". The Midlands Advertiser. Moora, WA. 7 November 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. ^ See Western Australian Farmers Federation for the relationship between the Co-operative and the CBH Group in its early history
  4. ^ "Growth of the local co-op". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Acquisition of Gascoyne Trading". www.wesfarmers.com.au. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ Hartley, L.R (1995). Fatigue and Driving: Driver Impairment, Driver Fatigue, And Driving Simulation. CRC Press.
  7. ^ "Heritage Council of WA - Places Database". inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Public listing". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "Our History". Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  10. ^ Going off script: how the $1.7b Bunnings UK disaster unfolded. The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 2018 accessed 19 August 2018
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Wesfarmers Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Bunnings to hit UK in $705m Homebase deal". news.com.au. 18 January 2016.
  13. ^ a b "DIY retailer Homebase sold at a huge loss for just £1". 25 May 2018. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018. Homebase has been sold by [Wesfarmers] [..] So far 24 stores have been rebranded [but] will become Homebase stores again.
  14. ^ "New Department Stores division and senior management changes". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Agreement to sell Kmart Tyre and Auto Service".
  16. ^ "Big shakeout for Wesfarmers", Financial Review, 3 July 2014. Accessed 16 June 2015
  17. ^ "Wesfarmers organisational restructure and senior management changes". Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  18. ^ "Acquisition of Pacific Brands Workwear Completed". phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  19. ^ "greencap about". www.greencap.com.au. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Completion of Sale of Insurance Broking and Premium Funding". Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Completion of Sale of Insurance Underwriting Operations". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  22. ^ Peter Ryan (2 July 2007). "Coles board recommends $22b takeover offer". ABC News online. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  23. ^ Carson, Vanda (2 July 2007). "Wesfarmers buys Coles". The Age. Melbourne, Vic. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  24. ^ "PowerPoint Presentation". Wesfarmers. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  25. ^ "News Release". Wesfarmers. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  26. ^ Coles splits from Wesfarmers Perth Now 15 November 2018
  27. ^ "2020 Annual Report" (PDF). Hawthorn East, Victoria: Coles Group Limited. 24 September 2020. p. 159. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  28. ^ ""Completion of sale of 40 per cent interest in Bengalla"" (PDF). Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  29. ^ Acquisition of Gascoyne Trading Wesfarmers
  30. ^ Heytesbury buys back Bell Freightlines Canberra Times 6 May 1991 page 5
  31. ^ Relaxation of restrictions on northern transport Truck & Bus Transportation October 1970 page 121
  32. ^ Vic and WA transport groups in joint operation Freight & Container Transportation April 1973 page 8
  33. ^ Gascoyne replaces Mayne Nickless in Total West venture Truck & Bus Transportation August 1985 page 60
  34. ^ Trading a Name Truck & Bus Transportation July 1996 page 83
  35. ^ Westrail News The Westland issue 135 May 1996
  36. ^ Sale of WA road freight transport business Wesfarmers 2 November 2001
  37. ^ Wesfarmers Sells Road Transport Assets Railway Digest December 2001 page 7
  38. ^ 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