The parent company of Coles, Wesfarmers, has announced that over the next five years, it will develop two automated supply centres.

While it is not known exactly how many staff members will lose their jobs as a result of these new hi-tech centres, the large supermarket chain has indicated that it will make provision for between $130-$150 million in the 2019 financial year, to pay for staff redundancies and lease exit costs, as reported in the Business Insider.

Coles has said that it expects to close a number of existing distribution centres over that five-year period.

The company has made an agreement with German-based company Witron Logistic + Informatik BmbH to build the new hi-tech robotic warehouses, which will be housed in New South Wales and Queensland.

Modernise and Lower Costs

Coles Managing Director Steven Cain told Business Insider that the agreement forms part of Coles’ efforts to modernise its supply chain, which delivers more than 1 billion cartons to Coles stores each year.

“The investment we are making in this technology is expected to lower supply chain costs, provide safer working environments and enhance our business competitiveness,” Cain said.

“Following a comprehensive review of all options this investment is expected to deliver significant productivity improvements over the medium to long term,” said Wesfarmers managing diretor Rob Scott.

The new automated centres would be paid for out of Coles’ broader capital investment budget of $600-800 million for the 2019 financial year. Although it is unclear as to how much the new centres will cost to build.

Woolworths is essentially doing something similar. They opened a $215 million automated distribution centre earlier this year.

A Split Is Inevitable

This announcement comes as Coles is looking looks to break off from Wesfarmers.

Wesfarmers shareholders will vote on the demerger proposal on 15 November.

Wesfarmers confirmed it plans to retain a 15% share in Coles and a 50% stake in the Flybuys program.

“Eligible shareholders will receive one Coles share for every Wesfarmers share,” a statement said.

The Coles split is expected to be finalised by the end of November.

What do you think about this proposal to replace people with robots. Tell us in the comments below.

  • We need people as we need to speak to people when something goes wrong. I hate self service. why cant we give jobs to young and lower skilled workers.


  • I even avoid the self serve check outs try already have because I prefer the more personal touch of a check out person. But it’s the way of the world, so many jobs will disappear over the coming years thanks to robots and computers


  • If they are going to waste money on this, why not just employ more staff to get the job done. The government aren’t going to want to pay out more for unemployment benefits. It’s hard to get in the first place. My son is 35 and has to live at home because there are no jobs available. This plan will only see things escalate and if this happens, Coles will lose out because more and more people won’t be able to afford many of the food items available now


  • They will probably have lease exit fees as a lot of customers will probably boycott Coles when this development starts. Us a robot going to check there is the correct number of cartons on a pallet at all. I know of at least one warehouse where it was found that staff at one manufacturer were packing pallets a different way and it appeared to have more on it than it did.


  • It’s like talking to a 8 month old + that you are still trying to succeed with different flavours of solids.

    Imagine how a Mum who never develops a breastmilk supply or one that has no nourishment in it through no fault of their own must feel.


  • My teen has been looking for a job for 6 months now to no avail and it’s because of places like this.
    Kids are all going to have to become engineeers and electric repair men just so they can get jobs


  • Time to get ready for the future what be prepared for all these things, so scary to go through this


  • I don’t like it. What a scary future. We will be so reliant on technology that a terrorise attack will only need to be to make hack into the mainstream and it will send us all in to caos


  • I don’t like interacting with robots! I much prefer people!


  • I dislike the idea of putting people out of work and relying more increasingly on technology. Wonder what they’ll do if things start malfunctioning and throws them way behind in productivity?


  • That’s the way of the future and unfortunate for some people.


  • I don’t agree at all the idea of replacing staff with robots. I don’t believe it needs to be our future. Always people first.


  • Never replace people with robots, so wrong.


  • I don’t like it.

    • Bad news for the Coles staff working at the supply centres indeed.


  • Whether we like it or not it is going to happen. This just means different jobs for people in the future. some of the jobs of the past no longer are here. The ice man, person emptying the outdoor loo, box boys and others like that. Our grand children will face different jobs to what is here now.


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