What does the ‘W’ in Big W stand for? Picture: AAP /Dave Hunt
What does the ‘W’ in Big W stand for? Picture: AAP /Dave Hunt

What the ‘W’ in Big W really stands for

The giant Big W sign is a feature of shopping centres across the country but it seems plenty of us still don't know what W actually stands for.

TikTokker Toby Rozario has sparked a fresh round of interest in the origins of the discount retailer's name with a video that has been liked more than 57,000 times.

The video shows him in front of a Google search asking what does Big W stand for and he declares himself shocked to discover the W stands for Woolworths. "What? My life has been a lie," he declares.

TikTokker Toby Rozario appeared shocked when delivering the news to fans in a video which has been liked more than 52,000 times.
TikTokker Toby Rozario appeared shocked when delivering the news to fans in a video which has been liked more than 52,000 times.

A Big W spokesperson confirmed to news.com.au the W does indeed reflect the close relationship between Woolworths and the Big W stores we know today.

"The name originated in 1964 with the opening of the very first Big W in the Jesmond Shopping Centre in Newcastle," the spokesperson told news.com.au.

"This was also the first shopping centre that Woolworths built and developed themselves, with the Big W name being a reflection of the close relationship the brand has with Woolworths supermarkets."

The first Big W store to open was in 1976. Picture: AAP /Dave Hunt
The first Big W store to open was in 1976. Picture: AAP /Dave Hunt


The original Big W stores were department stores similar to Myer and reflected Woolworths foundation in the general merchandise business.

The company still had several hundred 'Variety' stores - the "original" Woolworths stores - in 1964, which still had a larger turnover than the fledgling supermarkets division, and were the mainstay of the company.

"So Big W really was like a big Woolworths - the traditional Variety stores," the spokesperson said.

In 1970, the Big W name ceased to be used and the stores were converted to what was known as Woolworths Family Centres that had "a very large range of general merchandise as well as a supermarket food range".

"These stores ultimately converted to large supermarkets in the 1980s," she told news.com.au.

The Big W name was resurrected with the new store in Tamworth in 1976, which was the first Big W discount department store to open, with a more successful discount department store format that continues today.

The Big W chain grew from Woolworths’ original stores. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin
The Big W chain grew from Woolworths’ original stores. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin

THE 'K' IN KMART AND MANY MORE

The big red 'K' in Kmart, a brand name, which was trademarked back in 1969, apparently doesn't stand for anything. But the K could be a nod to its founder, Mr Kresge who died in 1966, three years before the first Kmart opened in Australia.

H&M, the global fast fashion powerhouse that originated in Sweden, comes from its original store name Hennes, which means "her" in Swedish. At the time, the retailer stocked women's clothes only.

Kmart’s K could be a nod to its founder Mr Kresge.
Kmart’s K could be a nod to its founder Mr Kresge.

Two decades later Hennes acquired men's outfitters Mauritz Widforss. That's how Hennes and Mauritz, or H&M, was born.

JB Hi-Fi was founded in 1974 by John Barbuto who named the first store, in Melbourne, with his initials.

ASOS, the British e-commerce fashion retailer, stands for AsSeenOnScreen. The idea came from giving everyday shoppers looks that celebrities were seen wearing on screen.

BWS stands for beers, wines and spirits while health insurer BUPA, pronounced "boo-pa", stands for the less catchy British United Provident Association.

Originally published as What the 'W' in Big W really stands for


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