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|Defunct||2010 (Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory)|
|Headquarters||Hawthorn East, Victoria,
|Number of locations||48|
|Area served||New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland,|
BI-LO is an Australian supermarket chain owned by Wesfarmers (formerly Coles Group). Once a chain of 180 outlets, most BI-LO supermarkets were re-branded as Coles Supermarkets during 2006 and 2007. In October 2008, Coles stated it was looking to create a new chain to replace the remaining BI-LO stores. By December 2013, only 29 stores remained open, 20 in New South Wales and 9 in Queensland.
BI-LO was established by John and David Weeks in Adelaide in 1979. 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 renamed as BI-LO). BI-LO would later expand into Queensland and Victoria.
In December 1994, BI-LO opened its first Mega Fresh 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 Woolworths supermarket
In 2002, BI-LO acquired and converted 15 Franklins sites, in New South Wales (Warilla Grove, Campbelltown - now Coles, Hillsdale - closed 2003, Mount Druitt - closed 2005, Shellharbour, Lavington, Thirroul), Queensland (Kawana, Capalaba - Closed 2007 reopened as Coles 2008, 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 Westfield Fountain Gate. 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.
In October 2008, Coles stated it was planning to create a discount supermarket chain to replace the remaining BI-LO stores. In 2009, Coles stated it would sell eight of the remaining BI-LO stores to rival chain Foodworks. A few BI-LO stores have recently been closed, or are closing soon, due to poor performance and small store size, these stores include Armidale and Merimbula.
At its peak, BI-LO had more than 180 stores and employed 13,600 people. By March 2009, only 48 stores remained, largely in NSW and Queensland.
In 2006, Coles Group announced its plan to re-brand all Coles Group businesses (excluding Target and Officeworks) under the Coles name. BI-LO supermarkets were to be converted to Coles supermarkets, with others changing to other Coles Group businesses. 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.
Reflecting on the failed conversion strategy later in 2007, Coles chief operating officer Mick McMahon stated "a strategy you can't execute is probably not the right strategy".
The tag-line "Extra Value for You — and Me" was used between 1999 and 2004, which was replaced by "Why Pay More!" Between 2000 and 2005, TV cook Huey was the face of BI-LO and Newmart supermarkets across Australia, with BI-LO sponsoring and supplying his cooking shows. In late 2005, a stylised BI-LO docket was adopted as BI-LO's mascot and its use replaced Hewitson. At this time, the tag-line "It's the total of the docket that counts!" was used. In 2003, a campaign recording customer answers to "Why do you shop at BI-LO?" was used. In 2007 amid the Coles conversion, an election-style campaign also featured the stylised BI-LO Docket with the tag "Reduce the total of your docket!" Former slogans included "We Do, You Do" and "Cheap Groceries".
In response to its main competitor Franklins launching "Franklins Big Fresh" in the early 1990s, BI-LO launched its Mega Frrresh brand at Greenacres, South Australia in 1994. Like Franklins Big Fresh, it combined discount shopping with a market-style atmosphere. Mega Fresh stores remain in New South Wales and Queensland.
BI-LO purchased six Newmart supermarkets in 1996 for A$16 million. Newmart was a small independent discount chain in Perth, Western Australia with a similar format to BI-LO: discount groceries, bulk foods, extensive fresh produce, meat and delicatessen sections. BI-LO was unable to re-brand the stores since Foodland Associated Limited traded stores in Western Australia under the BI-LO name at the time. The Newmart chain grew to 18 stores by 2002, had its own website until 2006, and like BI-LO, launched the slogan "Extra Value for You" in 1999.
In 2002, Coles assumed management of Newmart, immediately re-branding seven stores as Coles supermarkets, before discontinuing the Newmart brand in 2003, selling four stores to Action Supermarkets), all four Action supermarkets were later bought out and rebadged Woolworths these stores were located at Noranda, Stirling Central, Booragoon and Clarkson and converting the remaining stores to Coles Supermarkets.
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2006)|