! THIS IS AN ARCHIVED REPORT  Please click here to view the current report


Coles is one of Australia’s largest retailers, providing fresh food, groceries, general merchandise, liquor, fuel and financial services to more than 19.9 million customers on average per week through its national store network and online channels.

Coles employs more than 99,000 team members and operate more than 2,300 retail outlets nationally. Coles' network of 762 supermarkets, 831 liquor stores, 90 hotels and 642 convenience outlets contributed to $37.4 billion in revenue during the year. This year Coles celebrates its' centenary.

Material issues

Coles focuses on nine key areas to improve its sustainability:

  • Employee safety
  • Diversity
  • Ethical sourcing
  • Community contribution
  • Supplier relationships
  • Responsible liquor and gaming
  • Healthy products
  • Product safety
  • Reducing waste and environmental impact

Healthy, safe workplaces

Keeping our team members, customers, suppliers and other visitors safe across all our sites is important to us. Our safety performance – as measured by both lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) and total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) improved again this year. Last year was our first year of reporting TRIFR and during the year we brought our definition of total recordable injuries into line with that used elsewhere across the Wesfarmers Group.

One of our biggest safety issues relates to injuries caused from handling stock in stores. To minimise these, we have trialled more ergonomic designed trolleys for supermarkets, liquor and convenience stores.

Inserts for fresh produce display bunks, designed to minimise the reach of team members when filling, were trialled in our new format supermarkets.  Coles’ logistics revised its personal protective equipment policy to prescribe safety footwear and minimise foot related injuries occurring in our distribution centres.

In conjunction with the CSIRO and the Glycaemic Foundation Index, we launched HealthierU, being trialled with more than 1000 team members, which provides a tailored exercise and eating plan for individuals based on their current circumstances and goals.

19 per cent improvement in TRIFR


Safety performance

chart data indicator
2014   37.2
2013   46.2*
2012   50.4
2011   43.9
2010   45.8
*This number has been restated to reflect change in definition for consistency with industry practice.

Team member diversity, health and flexibility

In March 2014, we announced our commitment to treble the number of Indigenous team members working at Coles from 1,000 to 3,000 before 2020. Our key channel for achieving this is through our First Steps Indigenous employment program, supported by the Australian Government. During the year, we provided mentoring and roles for 126 new team members in locations such as Grafton (New South Wales), Hervey Bay (Queensland), Kilburn (South Australia) and Shepparton (Victoria). 

We launched a range of programs during the year to assist working families, including Paid Parental Leave, Coles Child Care program and the Stay In Touch program to bridge the gap between work and home life for team members on parental leave or with young children.

The Stay in Touch program delivers information about parenting, activity suggestions and company news, so that team members can keep up to date with any key changes at work whilst they are on leave. Coles Child Care program is provided in partnership with CareforKids an online childcare resource, onsite at our Store Support Centre and offsite elsewhere. Over 3,500 team members visited the CareforKids website during the year. 

300 new Indigenous team members

We also offer the Coles kids at work program in partnership with Camp Australia at our Store Support Centre in Melbourne, which is our largest workplace, and provides a discount for team members accessing Camp Australia’s holiday programs operating around the country. During the year, approximately 1,100 children were registered for the program at Coles Store Support Centre.

Ethically sourced products

During the year, we continued our program of auditing high risk suppliers, such as those operating in non organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) member countries. 

Since our report last year, we have joined Better Work as Buyer Partners. Better Work is a joint program between the International Labour Organisation and the International Finance Corporation, and our membership helps strengthen our oversight of factories from which we source our MIX clothing range. We have developed a specific training course with the Ethical Trading Initiative, trained 80 team members in ethical sourcing and participated in the Buyers Working Group on Human Rights in the Thai Seafood supply chain. 

Coles published the names and addresses of its factories in Cambodia, India and Vietnam in September 2014, but was working towards this during the reporting period.

Animal welfare and sustainable sourcing

Coles addresses animal welfare issues through a number of partnerships. For example, in January 2014, we delivered on a three-year project to convert Coles Brand fresh chicken meat to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Approved and now source this from approximately 1,000 RSPCA Approved barns across Australia.

According to the RSPCA’s Approved Farming 2013 Impact Report, “the number of chickens raised on RSPCA Approved farms has grown each year, from just over 8.7 million in 2012 to over 72 million in 2013. This was due substantially to a decision by Coles Supermarkets to use RSPCA Approved chicken in all its own brand of fresh chicken from January 2014".

“The number of chickens raised on RSPCA Approved farms has grown each year, from just over 8.7 million in 2012 to over 72 million in 2013. This was due substantially to a decision by Coles Supermarkets to use RSPCA Approved chicken in all its own brand of fresh chicken from January 2014.” RSPCA’s Approved Farming 2013 Impact Report

We are making good progress towards delivering our goal of 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. Coles’ efforts were recognised in WWF’s 2013 Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, receiving the highest score of any Australian retailer. By mid-2014, more than half of Coles Brand products containing palm oil had been converted to certified sustainable, including in-store bread, packaged cake and chilled spreads.  A list of Coles Brand products containing certified sustainable palm oil is now available on Coles' website.

This year our sustainable seafood program with World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia focused on developing some of the first Australian fisheries improvement projects, which will continue to improve the range of sustainable seafood options available at Coles in the future. Our commitment to improve how we source Coles Brand canned tuna has resulted in some ground breaking research into how we potentially verify that our fish have been sourced without the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) which can be harmful to other sea life. This new verification system will be tested in West Central Pacific this year.


Supporting the community

This year we made direct community investments of $30.5 million, with an additional $7.4 million contributed by our customers, team members and suppliers.

Since 26 January 2013, we have raised over $9.2 million for Redkite, a cancer charity which supports children and young people with cancer and their families. Our fundraising support has ensured that 26 per cent more families have received Redkite’s critical financial assistance and that professional counselling and support was available in hospitals across Australia. We have also enabled Redkite to significantly expand the education and career support it provides to young cancer patients and survivors.

To mark our centenary celebrations, in April we announced a commitment to help raise $5 million to the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust, which provides financial and emotional support services for current and former members of the defence force and their families.

We also launched Coles Community Hero to recognise team members who are involved in their community and help them do more. The program will see $200,000 distributed to community groups and charities nominated by the winners along with 30,000 hours volunteered by team members.

Disaster relief

Coles came to the aid of those affected by the fires in the Blue Mountains and Hunter region in New South Wales in October 2013 and in Western Australia in January 2014 and through matching customer donations dollar for dollar, donated $2 million to help rebuild these communities.

Food donations

Our food donations via Foodbank and SecondBite increased by 14 per cent during the year, to more than 4.5 million kilograms. As at 30 June 2014, more than 500 Coles Supermarkets and six distribution centres were donating fresh produce and bakery items through our partnership with SecondBite. Since 2011, the number of community food programs receiving food from SecondBite has grown from 300 programs in Victoria and Tasmania to over 1,000 nationally, which are assisting the homeless, those on low incomes, refugees, migrants and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Over $9.2 million raised for Redkite

Community contributions


chart data indicator
2014   30.5
2013   33.2
2012   19.0
2011   15.6
2010   7.3
2014   7.4
2013   5.3
2012   2.9
2011   6.7
2010   1.9
$2 million raised for bushfire relief
4.5 million kilograms of food donations

Building and sustaining good relationships with suppliers

As part of our business turnaround, we have driven a range of business initiatives with the aim of putting our customers at the heart of everything we do. To achieve this, we have sought long-term contracts with suppliers and provided support to Australian food producers and manufacturers.

A long-time supplier to Coles, Belinda Adams, was named AUSVEG’s 2014 Grower of the Year for her significant role in managing the continued growth of her Gold Coast family business, Coastal Hydroponics, and her involvement in the broader industry.

In addition to developing a draft food and grocery code of conduct with Woolworths and the Australian Food & Grocery Council during the year, we announced the Coles Supplier Charter in August 2014. 

Click here to see how Coles builds long-term relationships with suppliers to provide fresh Australian produce.

The Charter sets out what merchandise suppliers can expect when they work with us. It is our formal commitment to dealing in good faith, treating our suppliers with respect and providing greater transparency throughout our relationships.

The Charter includes an independent third party framework for dealing with complaints by suppliers. This includes three procedures and recourse to an independent arbiter. In August 2014, former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was appointed independent arbiter to resolve disputes with Coles.  

Liquor and gaming

Coles participates in industry-wide initiatives and forms other partnerships that are designed to achieve better health outcomes for our stakeholders.

For instance, during the year we supported Responsible Gambling Week in Queensland where we operate hotels and participated in local liquor accords, such as the Kununurra and Wyndham Alcohol Accord in Western Australia and alcohol restrictions in Port Augusta and Whyalla in South Australia and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. We have also introduced Drinkwise pregnancy labelling on the majority of our exclusive and private label liquor products.

For more information on Spirit Hotels and gaming, please click here.

High quality, healthy products

We worked with industry and the Federal Department of Health on the design and implementation plan for the new industry Health Star Rating system for food and commenced adopting this for our own brand products. Products with this labelling, such as speciality milks, cereals and produce, will start to be available from the end of 2014.

Through the Glycaemic Foundation, we have now certified a number of our low GI Coles Brand products and have commenced identifying this on packaging.

In June 2014, we launched a Healthy Choices aisle for Coles Online customers as a result of working in partnership with the George Institute for Global Health. The improved navigation to healthier choices for online shopping means customers can shop from an independently curated aisle of products that have been assessed by the George Institute as being healthier choices. 

Food safety

Coles is in the process of engaging suppliers and piloting new product manufacturing standards for food, non-food, and produce, aimed at raising the standard of Australian manufacturers who supply Coles Brand products. Suppliers will be audited at the factory floor, where issues are more likely to occur and requirements will vary depending on the level of risk associated with processing the product.

In March 2014, over 100 representatives from our supplier base were introduced to the new standards at Coles’ Melbourne Store Support Centre, and further training in the new process for suppliers, auditors and Coles’ product technologists will be delivered through the Coles Quality Academy.

Reducing our environmental impact

Our greenhouse gas emissions continued to decrease this year, despite expanding our store network. This was achieved by continuing to design our stores with energy efficient features and diverting more food and other waste from landfill. 

Coles was recognised at the 2014 Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Building Services Awards, winning the Refrigeration Project Excellence Award. The award was in connection with our supermarket at Hallam where a range of energy efficiency and other initiatives have been undertaken to lower the impact of the store on the environment. After 12 months of operation, the Hallam store uses 20 per cent less energy than an equivalent store and uses natural refrigerant gases. 

Recycling and packaging

During the year, we improved our recycling rate for solid waste from 63 per cent to 68 per cent and significantly reduced our waste to landfill by 12.5 per cent or 11,830 tonnes. We achieved this by diverting surplus food to people in need via SecondBite, recycling organic waste and improved plastic waste recycling by customers through our program with RED Group and back of house recycling by stores. Click here for more details on our soft plastics recycling. 

In early 2014, Coles introduced recycled plastic for Coles Brand Natural Spring Water bottles. The recycled plastic replaces the use of virgin plastic, which saves natural resources, energy, and water and has a significantly lower carbon footprint. 



Tonnes '000
chart data indicator
2014   83
2013   94
2012   99
2011   100
2010   91
2014   175
2013   163
2012   151
2011   141
2010   131
Coles waste disposed - This does not include approximately 28,000 kL of liquid waste disposed

Greenhouse gas emissions


Tonnes CO2e: '000
chart data indicator
2014   2,202
2013   2,289
2012   2,402
2011   2,524
2010   2,531

Energy use


2014   6.9
2013   6.9
2012   7.1
2011   7.3
2010   7.4