Business Review

Portfolio Business — BIG W

In 2015/16 BIG W continued to provide Australians with great value in-store and online choices for general merchandise. As well as addressing our corporate responsibilities in employment, environment and the community, the international nature of our operations and product lines means the most material issues for BIG W are labour conditions and human rights protection in our supply chain.


BIG W has approximately 21,000 team members across 186 national stores, three logistics distribution centres that were reintegrated into BIG W operations during the year, the Sydney based support office and dedicated BIG W sourcing offices in Hong Kong and Bangladesh. During FY16 BIG W opened two new stores in Pacific Fair (QLD) and Hurstville (NSW), creating approximately 200 new jobs in these communities.


BIG W leads the way in department store retailing in Australia with 55% female representation at an executive leadership level, 43% at retail store management level and 68% female representation across all employees.

In addition to these achievements in gender representation, BIG W proudly supports a diverse workplace across racial, sexual orientation, age and cultural background and has programs in place to foster a supportive environment for all team members. BIG W is a proud supporter of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) employee community within Woolworths Group. Many of our store and support office employees were involved in Wear it Purple Day 2016.


BIG W is committed to maintaining its safety lead within the retail industry. We believe the well being, health and safety of our team members, customers and visitors at all times is our most important priority.


BIG W’s Own Brand products are produced to high standards of animal welfare. BIG W does not use animal testing on its Own Brand products, including personal care and cosmetics. BIG W has also committed to not sell any products made from angora wool due to the animal welfare concerns of the process of fibre removal from rabbits.


BIG W store design uses energy efficient LED light fittings in the majority of the store fleet and is also committed to using LED lights in all new and refurbished stores. To further minimise energy use BIG W has air conditioning and light control timers.


BIG W ensures that all production factories have environmental treatment plants (ETP) to treat the water waste from production, particularly the by products from denim manufacture. ETP is a natural cleaning process that oxygenates water and reduces the acidity before being released into waterways. There is also work underway to reduce the amount of water used in production.


BIG W is committed to recycling packaging materials, particularly in store operations. In FY16 BIG W recycled ~18 million tonnes of cardboard (+1.5% on FY15) and ~1 million tonnes of LDPE (+3.6% on FY15).


BIG W supports the NSW and Australian Government initiatives to phase out the use of microbeads in certain consumer products. BIG W is committed to ensuring this takes place and is seeking confirmation from its suppliers that they do not use microbeads in their products or are otherwise committed to phasing out the use of microbeads urgently.

Ethical Sourcing

The most material ethical sourcing issues for BIG W are the labour conditions and protection of human rights in our supply chain. BIG W seeks to ensure that the people who are making the products we sell are being treated fairly. BIG W follows the Woolworths Group Ethical Sourcing Policy and has an extensive Factory Audit program. Before BIG W partners with any factory, the factory is subject to a site inspection and must pass an audit which examines employment conditions, labour force, product safety, the structural integrity of the factory buildings and a geographic risk assessment. Any identified issues must be addressed before BIG W will deal with the factory. There are regular production checks to ensure factories are not subcontracting to non audited suppliers.


BIG W is a signatory and financial supporter of the Accord on Bangladesh in Fire and Building Safety, an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. The program involves independent safety inspections of factories, with retailers assigned to take the lead on following up on corrective actions. Our factory supplier list in Bangladesh is published on the Woolworths Group website and we are building on the information provided here to provide even greater transparency of our supply chain in the future.


BIG W has committed to not using cotton from Uzbekistan due to the systemic use of child and forced labour in harvesting cotton. Our Uzbek cotton policy is included in the specifications for our clothing and home products and BIG W suppliers have been notified.


BIG W has supported the BIG Heart Appeal for over 10 years. The Appeal supports the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick (NSW), The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (QLD), The Bone Health Foundation Inc (SA), The Royal Children’s Hospital (VIC) and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.

In addition, BIG W is an active community member and also supports several regional charities in the domestic violence and mental health space. BIG W is currently reviewing its philanthropic commitments in 2016 as part of an overall business review to ensure mutual brand alignment, outcomes are measurable and that team engagement remains high.