A ton of fun for Warrnambool Coles veterans

Peter Townsend, Sue Doukas and Marcie Pitts have together chalked up almost as many years as their employer Coles, which celebrated its centenary yesterday.

Mr Townsend has been with the company 39 years after starting as an unemployed 21-year-old, Ms Doukas has clocked up 31 years and Ms Pitts 25. Their first Warrnambool retail jobs were in Lava Street when the business was called Coles New World Supermarket.

Yesterday at the company’s Northpoint Warrnambool outlet they helped cut a company birthday cake shaped like the rocket that once adorned the Lava Street store.

Reflecting on their careers they all agreed the biggest changes were in electronic technology which made stockroom ordering, checkout registers and payrolls much more efficient.

Trading hours have also changed considerably. When they started there was no trade on Sunday, Saturday afternoon or at night.

“We had to price all the items by hand. Now there’s electronic scanning and a much bigger range of stock,” Ms Doukas said.

When Ms Pitts started as a casual in the payroll office, staff were paid with cash in envelopes. Now it’s transferred to their accounts by computer and the workers are officially called “team members”.

Northpoint Coles manager Rodney Driessen, who has been in retailing 21 years since starting as a 15-year-old casual, is a relative newcomer to Coles,  joining the company  four years ago.

Coles opened its first variety store in Smith Street, Collingwood on April 9, 1914 — three months before the outbreak of World War I.

It opened a variety store in Liebig Street, Warrnambool in the 1950s and a supermarket in Lava Street in 1963.

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