OUR
HISTORY

Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) has grown into a leading retail group with a strong presence in sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and New Zealand. WHL consists of three major operating divisions: Woolworths South Africa, David Jones and Country Road Group.

The first Woolworths store opened its doors to the public in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1931. Its founder, Max Sonnenberg, captured the public’s imagination with dynamic store policies that set Woolworths apart from its competitors. Three years later, a second branch opened in Durban, with another two, in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, opening a year later. Since then, Woolworths has consistently built its reputation for superior quality, exciting innovation and excellent value.

In 1994, Woolworths introduced its store card. Woolworths Financial Services, a joint venture between Woolworths South Africa and Barclays Bank, was incorporated in 2000 to provide Woolworths customers with focused financial products and services.

In 1997, WHL acquired a controlling interest in Country Road Group, with the remaining shares acquired in 2014. The Country Road brand was founded in 1974 as a manufacturer and supplier of women’s casual cotton shirts. The brand was re-launched in 2004 and has evolved into a leading lifestyle brand renowned for stylish, high quality apparel, accessories, and homeware.

Country Road Group has subsequently expanded into a house of brands by:

  • Launching Trenery in 2009 for customers who appreciate the beauty of simple, sophisticated collections that are modern in approach and classic in style;
  • Acquiring Witchery, an Australian ‘style authority‘ fashion brand, in 2012;
  • Acquiring Mimco in 2012, offering accessible, luxury accessories with a quirk; and
  • Acquiring Politix, a leading Australian menswear brand, in 2016.

On 1 August 2014, WHL acquired David Jones for A$2.2bn. David Jones opened its first store in Sydney in 1838 with a mission to sell ”the best and most exclusive goods.” There are now more than 40 David Jones stores throughout Australia and New Zealand offering customers the best brands across fashion, beauty, and home. David Jones is not only Australia’s oldest department store but also the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name.

Our well-established, Group-wide Good Business Journey has been embedded in all we do for over a decade, and is a key differentiator for the Group. To further stretch us into challenging, yet exciting sustainability territory for the next five to twenty-five years, we recently launched our new sustainability strategy and targets for 2025 and beyond. We are recently launched our Inclusive Justice Initiative, which aims to inspire inclusive growth for all our people, meaningfully impacting the communities in which we operate across the world.

The Group now has more than 8 million active loyalty customers, employs almost 45 000 employees across 13 countries, and trades in 1 453 store locations.