Coles Liquor
Alcohol retail
Coles operates over 900 bottle shops under the banners 1st Choice, Liquorland and Vintage Cellars. It imports under the names James Busby Fine Wine & Spirits, and Australian Beer Connoisseurs. Sold its pubs and pokies business in 2019.

Overall

Owned AUS
Rating C
About the Ratings

Company Ownership

Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd
AUS
Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd
owns 100% of Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd
AUS
Supermarkets and liquor stores
Coles was spun-off from Wesfarmers in November 2018. Wesfarmers kept Officeworks, Kmart and Target, which were part of Coles Group when it was acquired by Wesfarmers for $20 billion in 2007. The new Coles Group operates over 800 supermarkets and 900 liquor stores. Coles exited the hotels and poker machine business in 2019, but still operates bottle shops. Coles sold its Coles Express convenience store network to Viva Energy in 2023, which is being rebranded to OTR.
Coles Group Ltd
owns 100% of Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd
AUS
Retailing
Coles was founded in 1914, publicly listed in 1929, merged with Myer in 1986, spun-off Myer in 2006, bought by Wesfarmers in 2007, and spun-off from Wesfarmers in 2018. Wesfarmers kept Officeworks, Kmart and Target, which were part of Coles Group when it was acquired by Wesfarmers for $20 billion. The new Coles group operates over 2,500 retail outlets around Australia across both supermarkets and liquor stores.

Company Assessment

Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd
Information
On 31 May 2005, Coles subsidiary Liquorland admitted that it had entered into illegal agreements with five applicants for liquor licences. Liquorland was subsequently penalised $4.75 million by Justice Gyles of the Federal Court for these contraventions. [listed under Information due to age of court findings]
Source: ACCC (2005)
This company makes voluntary contributions to DrinkWise Australia, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 by the alcohol industry, whose stated goal is to help bring about a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia.
This company has signed the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code, which is designed to regulate alcohol advertising and marketing within Australia.
Source: ABAC (2021)
Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd
Praise
This company received a packaging performance level of 4 (Leading) in its 2024 APCO Annual Report. Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is a not-for-profit organisation leading the development of a circular economy for packaging in Australia. Each year, APCO Members are required to submit an APCO Annual Report and Action Plan, which includes an overall performance level from 1 (Getting Started) to 5 (Beyond Best Practice).
Source: APCO (2024)
Greenpeace's Reenergise campaign ranks Australia's biggest electricity using companies on their commitments and actions regarding renewable energy use. This company has: committed to powering their operations by 100% renewable electricity by 2030; signed at least one power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy power from a wind or solar project; invested in on-site solar.
The PalmOil Scan app, produced by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), rates companies on their commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Companies are scored on their use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), commitment to sourcing CSPO, on-the-ground conservation action, and membership to the RSPO. Companies can earn a rating of Excellent, Good, Poor or No Commitment. This company is rated "Good" (retrieved 18 Nov 2023).
Source: WAZA (2023)
Criticism
Greenpeace Australia's 2024 Deforestation Scorecard assessed how 10 of Australia's major beef buyers and producers stack up in terms of becoming deforestation-free by 2025. Australia has one of the worst rates of deforestation in the world, driven largely by the bulldozing of forests for beef cattle grazing. Coles scored 0.75/10. "Coles has no commitment to eliminate deforestation or conversion. While it has a system of lifetime supply chain traceability for cattle, his does not appear to be used for deforestation or conversion monitoring."
D grade in Baptist World Aid Australia's '2021 Ethical Fashion Report', which grades companies, from A to F, on the strength of their systems to mitigate against the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains, as well as protect the environment from the harmful impacts of the fashion industry. Assessment criteria fall into five main categories: policy & governance, tracing & risk, auditing and supplier relationships, worker empowerment and environmental sustainability.
In 2020 Baptist World Aid Australia released The COVID Fashion Report, a special edition of their Ethical Fashion Report. The report is framed around six COVID Fashion Commitments that ask companies to demonstrate the steps and measures they are taking to protect and support the most vulnerable workers in their supply chains. This company showed no evidence of actions that it covered any of the COVID Fashion Commitments.
Be Slavery Free's 2024 Chocolate Scorecard rates all the major chocolate companies on their labour and environmental policies and practices. Companies were asked questions in six areas: traceability and transparency; living income; child labor; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and pesticides. This retailer received a red rating: "Trailing in policy and practice".
In contrast to consumer expectations and free range eggs standards across the world, the government caved to pressure from a few industrial scale egg producers and major retailers to introduce a free range eggs standard in 2017 allowing producers to pack 10,000 hens into a hectare. The CSIRO, RSPCA, Choice and many others recommend a maximum of 1,500 hens per hectare. This company uses a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare for its Coles free range eggs, well in excess of consumer expectations.
In recent years Coles was been repeatedly under fire for underpaying staff. In 2014 Coles was ordered to back-pay 10 trolley collectors for underpayments amounting to $220,174.69 (https://bit.ly/43V85v3). In 2016 the full bench of the Fair Work Commission found that Coles underpaid its employees and cut penalty rates in a cosy deal with the shop assistants' union that has cost low paid workers perhaps $70 million a year (https://bit.ly/3Ll6reV). In 2020 Coles admitted to $20 million in underpayments to some store staff. However, the FWO says Coles' remediation program has "significantly underestimated" amounts owed to employees by more than $107 million. In 2021 the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) commenced legal action against Coles, alleging Coles underpaid 7,805 employees a total of $113.8 million between 1 January 2017 and 31 March 2020.
Information
The 2024 WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard evaluates the progress and performance of 285 major retailers and manufacturer companies, focusing on actions companies have taken to ensure their own palm oil supply chain is sustainable and free of deforestation, natural ecosystem conversion, and human rights abuse. This company failed to respond to WWF's requests for information.
Named and shamed in the 2010 CHOICE Shonky Awards. Coles supermarket gets a shonky for its meal promotion fronted by celebrity chef, Curtis Stone. The deal claims you can feed four people for less than $10 the catch is you have to already happen to have some of the ingredients in your pantry--which aren't included in the price! If you include the uncosted 'pantry items' (including 3/4 of a bottle of wine) in Curtis' $7.76 Coq au vin it would actually cost more than $30.
Involved in sale of tobacco-related products as a non-core business.
This March 2012 report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights reveals how 5,000 workers at a garment factory in Bangladesh toil under harsh and illegal sweatshop conditions making clothing for several companies including Coles/Wesfarmers' new Mix label. Workers are paid 16 to 22 cents an hour and routinely work seven-day, 84-hour work weeks with forced overtime. Every labor law in Bangladesh is routinely, systematically and grossly violated. [Listed under Information as Coles no longer sources garments from Bangladesh]
Fined $170,000 and ordered to pay legal costs in April 2012 after a worker fell through a ceiling at their Manly store in 2007 and received injuries. According to WorkCover, Coles management failed to implement adequate safety procedures.
In July 2013 the ACCC ordered Coles Supermarkets Australia to pay six infringement notices totaling $61,200 for alleged misleading representations about the country of origin of fresh produce made in five of its stores between March 2013 and May 2013.
Source: ACCC (2013)
This 2013 investigative report by Four Corners reveals that this company ordered clothes from factories in Bangladesh that did not meet international standards. Workers in Dhaka described unacceptable conditions that see them work long hours for little pay, sometimes under the threat of abuse if deadlines are not met. [Listed under Information as Coles no longer sources garments from Bangladesh]
Source: ABC (2013)
In April 2015 the Federal Court ordered this company to pay penalties of $2.5 million for making false or misleading representations and engaging in misleading conduct in relation to the promotion of its par baked bread products, in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The products were promoted as "Baked Today, Sold Today" and in some cases "Freshly Baked In-Store", when they were in fact partially baked and frozen off site by a supplier, transported and 'finished' at in-store bakeries within Coles supermarkets.
Source: ACCC (2015)
This company has been criticised for misleading advertising. The Advertising Standards Bureau upheld complaints about ads by this company in 2014, 2020 and 2022 on the grounds that they breached advertising codes. The ads were subsequently discontinued or modified. Follow link for details.
Named and shamed in the 2017 CHOICE Shonky Awards for its Coles Complete Cuisine cat food. Despite its name, this tinned treat is likely too low in fat to qualify as a 'complete' food.
This company the Parents' Voice Shame Award for Pester Power in 2018 for its Little Shop promotions. The Pester Power award goes to the food marketing campaign that uses techniques which appeal to children, leading to them nagging their parents for unhealthy foods.
Named and shamed in the 2023 CHOICE Shonky Awards for "cashing in during a cost-of-living crisis". Coles posted a $1.1 billion profit in a year when Australians are facing soaring cost of living pressures.
In April 2014 the ACCC accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Coles Supermarkets following an investigation into a video and cartoon 'Our Coles Brand Milk Story', which was published on social media. The ACCC found the video to be misleading and deceptive. The undertaking requires Coles to not make misleading or deceptive representations in relations to milk for 3 years, and review its Australian Consumer Law compliance program.
Source: ACCC (2014)
In Dec 2014 this company admitted to unconscionable conduct against some of its suppliers and agreed to pay a $10 million penalty in a settlement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Coles was also ordered to refund over $12 million to suppliers.
Source: ACCC (2014)
In 2016 the full bench of the Fair Work Commission found that Coles underpaid its employees and cut penalty rates in a cosy deal with the shop assistants' union that has cost low paid workers perhaps $70 million a year. Coles was given 10 days to provide undertakings to either compensate employees left worse off by working shifts with low penalties, or to overhaul rosters.
In 2016 Coles committed to banning all products containing microbeads from their shelves by the end of 2017. These particles are not retained by wastewater treatment so end up in the ocean. While microbeads aren't thought to be a health hazard to consumers, they are a threat to the marine environment.
This company manufactures or distributes products that are certified organic under the Australian Certified Organic label.
Source: ACO (2022)
Some, but not necessarily all, of this company's products are palm oil free, or contain segregated certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). For more details, follow the link to see Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia's list of products which manufacturers have told them are palm oil free or contain segregated certified sustainable palm oil.
This company sells products which are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Source: MSC (2022)
This company sells Rainforest Alliance certified tea. However this only represents a fraction of this company's total tea sales. Rainforest Alliance certification has been dubbed 'Fairtrade light' by critics, as it offers producers no minimum price for their crop, and guarantees a minimum of just 30% of the product is certified.
This company sells Fairtrade Certified coffee, however this only represents a fraction of their total coffee sales.
Green rating in Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide. "Coles has taken 6th place. It has successfully made the transition to FAD-free and pole and line tuna. Coles has a solid sustainability and ethical sourcing policy for its private label tuna and sources mostly skipjack. All Coles brand tuna is now being sourced with responsible fishing methods. Coles has also invested in research that supports better traceability in the Pacific. We welcome Coles' improving approach to transparency." [Listed under Information due to age of report]
This company is listed on the RSPCA Australia website as 'cage-free and proud', signifying a commitment to source 100% cage-free eggs by 2025. Essentially cage-free means barn laid, which is better than cage eggs, but still much worse than free-range or organic eggs when it comes to animal welfare.
The RSPCA Good Egg Awards acknowledge major companies that make the switch to cage-free eggs. Coles Brand Eggs were awarded a Good Egg Award in the Retail category in 2013 for their commitment to only sourcing cage-free eggs for their Coles Brand eggs.
Coles use chicken, turkey and pork from Australian RSPCA Approved farms for their range of RSPCA Approved products. These farms raise their birds in an enriched barn environment. Chickens enjoy space to move, good lighting and can perch, dustbathe and forage.
Brands owned by this company are listed in Human Society International Australia's Better Wool Guide as having a commitment to phasing out mulesed wool but with no timeline or certification scheme specified. Mulesing is the controversial practice of removing strips of the skin of a lamb's rear and is often done without pain relief. In Australia, the only country where mulesing still occurs, an estimated 10 million merino lambs are subjected to mulesing each year - equivalent to 19 lambs per minute.
This company has sustainability claims on its website. "Coles is committed to acting on the issues that matter most to our stakeholders such as climate change, packaging and waste, single-use plastics, animal welfare, health and nutrition and farming and supplier partnerships."
In 2016 Coles was praised by Oxfam Australia for publishing their overseas supplier factory names and addresses in China, India, Cambodia and Vietnam. This is a crucial step on a journey towards better conditions for workers, Oxfam Australia said.
This company has signed up to the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, which governs certain conduct by grocery retailers and wholesalers in their dealings with suppliers. It has rules relating to grocery supply agreements, payments, termination of agreements, dispute resolution and a range of other matters.
Source: ACCC (2015)
This company is a member of Bonsucro - Better Sugar Cane Initiative, a global non-profit, multi-stakeholder organisation fostering the sustainability of the sugarcane sector through its leading metric-based certification scheme and its support for continuous improvement for members.
This company is a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), a not-for-profit, membership organisation that leads work with buyers and suppliers to deliver improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Tens of thousands of companies use Sedex to manage their performance around labour rights, health & safety, the environment and business ethics.
Directly involved in the manufacture, distribution or sale of alcohol as a core business.
The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge (Transparency Pledge) helps demonstrate apparel and footwear companies' commitment towards greater transparency in their manufacturing supply chain. Transparency of a company's manufacturing supply chain better enables a company to collaborate with civil society in identifying, assessing, and avoiding actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. This is a critical step that strengthens a company's human rights due diligence. This company has published limited supplier factory information, and falls well short of the Pledge standard.
Coles Group Ltd
Praise
The 2022 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assessed 127 companies in the food and agriculture, ICT and automotive manufacturing sectors on their human rights performance. This company received a score of 39.1%. The overall average score was a disappointing 17.3% and the highest score was 50.3%.
Human Rights Law Centre's 2022 report, "Broken Promises: Two years of corporate reporting under Australia's Modern Slavery Act", examines statements submitted to the Government's Modern Slavery Register by 92 companies sourcing from four sectors with known risks of modern slavery: garments from China, rubber gloves from Malaysia, seafood from Thailand and fresh produce from Australia. Modern slavery statements are analysed to see if they comply with the mandatory reporting requirements, identify or disclose obvious modern slavery risks, and demonstrate effective actions to address risks. This company's modern slavery disclosure statement received a rating in the 81-100% range. The average score was 44% and the highest score was 89%.
The 2023 Gender Benchmark ranks 112 companies from the apparel and food and agriculture sectors on their efforts to drive gender equality and women's empowerment across their entire value chain. Companies are assessed on governance and strategy, representation, compensation and benefits, health and well-being, violence and harassment, and marketplace and community. This company ranked #11/112, with a total score of 40%. The average score was 23% and the highest score was 55%.
The 2021 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report ranks global food companies on how they are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies and practices. This company appeared in tier 3, "Established but work to be done", with tier 1 being the best, and tier 6 the worst.
The 2023 Food and Agriculture Benchmark assessed 350 keystone companies across the entirety of the food system, from farm to fork. It covers three dimensions where transformation is needed: nutrition, environment and social inclusion. This company ranked #17/350, with a total score of 42.6/100.
Criticism
In 2019 this company agreed to pay Norco around $5.25 million for distribution to its dairy farmer members. The payments follow an ACCC investigation into whether Coles fully passed on to Norco a 10 cents per litre price rise it charged consumers for Coles branded fresh milk, as it claimed it would do in Coles' marketing materials. The ACCC was "fully prepared to take Coles to court over what we believe was an egregious breach of the Australian Consumer Law."
Source: ACCC (2019)
Information
According to the democracyforsale.net website, this company donated $165,000 to Australia's major political parties between 2012 and 2018, as disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commision (AEC).
This company has extensive sustainability claims on its website in areas that include responsible sourcing, animal welfare, supporting Australian farmers, human rights, community support, sustainable packaging, minimising food waste and climate change.
In 2023 KnowTheChain benchmarked 60 food and beverage companies on their efforts to identify and tackle forced labour risks in their supply chains. This company received a score of 46/100. The average score was a disappointing 16/100 and the highest score was 56/100.
This company received an S&P Global ESG Score of 50/100 in the Food & Staples Retailing category of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an annual evaluation of companies' sustainability practices (last updated 27 OctNov 2023). The rankings are based on an analysis of corporate economic, environmental and social performance, assessing issues such as corporate governance, risk management, environmental reporting, climate strategy, human rights and labour practices.

Company Details

Type:
Wholly-owned subsidiary
Revenue:
2 billion AUD (2021)

Contact Details

Address:
800 Toorak Rd, Hawthorn East, VIC, 3123, Australia
Phone:
1300 656 644
Website:
www.colesliquorcorporate.com.au

Products / Brands

Coles Liquor
Cassidy Liqueur
El Sueno Seltzer
First Choice Liquor Stores
Hammer 'N' Tongs Beer
John Samson Scotch Whisky
Kentucky Gold Bourbon
Liquorland Liquor Stores
Maxx Beer
Mayfair Gin
Mr Finch Cider
Old Lions Gin
Smithy's Beer
Somma Seltzer
Steamrail Beer
Tinnies Beer
Vintage Cellars Liquor Stores
Volsk Vodka
Coles Liquor / White Label Distillery (Distiller)
Pure Origin Vodka