Coles CEO and Managing Director Leah Weckert has used her first Annual General Meeting address to outline new strategies for the business for Christmas and beyond.
Speaking to shareholders Weckert said that Coles is emerging from the challenges of Covid and supply chain issues and is evolving with the retail industry’s changing customer preferences and behaviours, and advancements in a range of technologies.
Weckert said: “Customers are telling us that they want quality produce and products, convenience, and flexibility in where, when and how they shop. They want shopping that is increasingly personalised and technology-enabled, healthy and sustainable food and packaging options, and being able to rely on the availability of the products they want to buy.
“And, right now, above all else, they want us to deliver great value.”
She added: “Today, particularly as Australian households face higher cost-of-living pressures, we have such an important role to help their budgets go further, to help them affordably put dinner on the table, fill school lunchboxes and enable them to celebrate the special moments in life with family, friends and loved ones.
“With all of these factors in mind, we have recently reset our strategy. Our renewed purpose is ‘Helping Australians eat and live better every day’,
“Helping refers to the growing ask from customers to help them solve problems – what’s for dinner, how to be more sustainable, how to eat healthily when life is so busy. Eat and live refers to food as our core purpose but surrounding that with adjacencies like liquor, pet, health, beauty and homecare which are all high transaction frequency, close to our core and convenient to buy alongside food.
“Better refers to our passion for more delicious, more healthy and more sustainable products. And every day, is a very important concept. It points to the consistency we need to deliver in our business to give each customer a great experience in our stores, online and with our products when they get them home, every day.
“To support this purpose, our new strategy will focus on creating a destination for food and drinks, accelerating through digital and delivering consistently now and for the future.”
Weckert also used her address to talk about Coles’ performance last year and in the first quarter of FY24, stating: “In FY23, Coles Liquor continued to realise its vision to be a simpler, more accessible, locally relevant drinks specialist. Our Exclusive Liquor Brand collection received more than 500 awards, including the Tasmanian Gin of the Year trophy for Pure Origin Tasmanian Dry Gin at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition.
“Moving to FY24, our Q1 sales in supermarkets and liquor were up 4.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively. Our sales results also highlighted our focus on building our omnichannel offer, with supermarkets eCommerce revenue growth of 24.6 per cent, and Liquor eCommerce revenue growth of 32.2 per cent.”
Looking ahead Weckert added: “Christmas is right around the corner, and to help Aussies around the country celebrate, we have curated a Christmas range focused on providing value at every price point. This year, we are featuring an impressive 349 products across supermarkets and liquor from ham and turkey to puddings and mince pies.
“To help us deliver consistently for the future, our new Simplify and Save to Invest program will again aim to deliver in excess of $1bn in cumulative savings over the next four years.
“We continue to focus on market performance, which is important to underpin investment in growth initiatives that will deliver strong financial outcomes and support dividend payments in future years.”