Coles plans Wal-Mart style retail stores

By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Coles Myer has hinted it may establish Wal-Mart style retail stores in Australia which may resemble Kmart department stores and Coles supermarkets in a side by side configuration without a wall in between.

Coles CEO John Fletcher is expected to unveil a five-year plan next week, which will remove the Myer name from the company and phase out the Bi-Lo brand.

The move follows an announcement by David Jones yesterday to open three new stores at Burwood in Sydney, Chermside in Brisbane and Doncaster in Melbourne.

According to Sunbeam national sales manager, Paul Cross, the Coles strategy of Wal-Mart superstores could be the right one .

“That style of retailing is successful in America and depending on the promotional weight, they could potentially be successful here,” Cross told current.com.au.

“They will require the support of brands,” he said.

Cross said that while 60 per cent of portable appliances in New Zealand are generic products sold through retailers such as The Warehouse, approximately three-quarters of the Australian appliance business is branded.

“I would think that the brands would fight vigourously to retain share,” Cross said.

“Walmart has been rumoured to come here for a long time. It has also been rumoured to be associated with Big W for a long time. As yet they are not here. But are we big enough for them in this market?” he asked.

According to Housewares International national field sales manager, David Gubbin, the concept of supercentres already exists.

“We are almost there now. Most shopping centres have a Kmart, Big W, Target as well as a Coles and a Woolies. Does it matter whether they are sitting next to each other or if there is no wall in between?” he said.

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