The annual Deloitte list of the 250 biggest retailers in the world has been released and only two Aussies made it – Wesfamers (Coles) in 21st spot and Woolworths a few spots back in 24th. Once again, Wal-Mart was voted the biggest retailer on the planet in terms of revenue.
Wesfarmers actually pipped arch-rival Woolworths for the first time on the list following the failure of Woolies’ Masters hardware business in 2016.
The top 10 retailers according to Deloitte were:
However, an Australian version of the Global Powers of Retailing report contained some grim news for the local incumbents and suggested the pending arrival of Amazon and its cheap, fresh, online delivery grocery model could great a “seismic shift” in all forms of retail in Australia.
David White, national leader of Deloitte’s retail, wholesale and distribution group said: “If Amazon isn’t on the agenda at board meetings for Australian retailers, then it should be.
“We are already seeing several retailers setting up task forces to assess the potential impact of an Amazon market entry, but it’s not yet clear what exactly the company has planned for Australia. Amazon has reportedly been very actively recruiting Aussies to get the business up and running.
“But we do know that where Amazon has entered new markets, impacts on local retailers have been seismic and across almost all categories and channels.
“So retailers can’t afford to wait and see what Amazon does — they need to be developing strategies and taking action now.”
Not that Coles and Woolies appear oblivious to the arrival of the new disruptor. In March last year, Wesfarmers’ MD Richard Goyder said that Amazon “will eat all our breakfasts, lunches and dinners” unless local retailers become more innovative and barriers to competition are removed.
“We’ve got big competition online and through a physical presence … we are in a disruptive, disrupted world,” Goyder said.
In late November, Justin Braitling, Watermark Funds Investment chief investment officer, was reported in The Australian Financial Review as having been briefed on Amazon’s plans for the Australian market. “We spoke to the guy rolling out Amazon’s business here in Australia and in his words: ‘We are going to destroy the retail environment in Australia’,” Braitling told the AFR.