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Big W exits optometry; will close 41 stores, 175 jobs affected

02/04/2019By Callum Glennen & Myles Hume
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Woolworths Group has confirmed it will close its entire 41-store Big W Optical business, affecting 175 staff, amid a slew of cutbacks at the company.

Confirmation of the closure of Big W’s optical business – which the company expects to be completed by early July – comes as Woolworths announces it will close 30 of its Big W stores over the next three years, representing 16% of its store network.

In explaining the reason behind the closure of Big W Optical, a company spokesperson told Insight: “As part of our strategic review, we are working toward building a stronger and more profitable Big W for the future and therefore we have made the decision to focus on categories that are core for our customers.”



“While the recovery in trading for Big W is encouraging and there remains further opportunity for improvement, the speed of conversion to earnings improvement is taking longer than planned.”
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci

In June 2016 Big W Optical operated 27 stores, expanding to its current number over the following years.

The wider closures across Big W follows a review of its 183 stores nationally. The decision is expected to cost Woolworths approximately $370 million and will impact the supermarket giant's 2019 profit results.

“As foreshadowed at our half year 2019 results, while the recovery in trading for Big W is encouraging and there remains further opportunity for improvement, the speed of conversion to earnings improvement is taking longer than planned,” Mr Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO, said.

“This decision will lead to a more robust and sustainable store and DC network that better reflects the rapidly changing retail environment. It will accelerate our turnaround plan through a more profitable store network, simplifying current business processes, improving stock flow and lowering inventory.”

The Big W’s optometry department was launched in 2007 to compete with major optical chains.

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