Bega Coles celebrates company's centenary

AS COLES celebrated its centenary on Wednesday, former and long-time current employees of the Bega store held a special morning tea. 

Team member Denise Forth, who has worked for Coles in Bega for 46 years, put together a wall of memorabilia that sparked plenty of happy memories. 

“I’ve kept all these photos and clippings, it was nice to bring it all out,” she said. 

“I’ve loved being here and I know the people who’ve come today have too.”

Bega Coles started as a small variety store on Carp St next to the present day Rockmans. 

Ms Forth started working at Coles at its second incarnation in Bega further along Carp St before it moved to its present location. 

Mayor Bill Taylor who attended the event along with Bega Cheese’s business manager Michael Hampson, spoke with Ms Forth about Coles’ early days. 

Peter Mullaney started working at Coles in 1955 when he was 15. 

“It was a small store, down on Carp St where the butcher was,” he said. 

“My brother worked there and got called up for the army so I asked the manager if I could take his job and he said yes.

“I worked for Coles for 43 years and eventually became a buyer.”

He brought along a picture from 1958 that showed him and his co-workers, including Joan Rootsey (nee O’Brien) and Rae Teer (nee Elliot). 

The women caught up with Mr Mullaney at the morning tea - Ms Rootsey is now retired while Ms Teer still works at Coles. 

Ms Rootsey started working for Coles in 1956, a year after Ms Teer started in 1955. 

Bega’s current manager, Amanda Wright, gave a short speech outlining the company’s history and praising the team at her store for making it “like family”.

The Bega store has 85 team members - some like Ms Teer have a long history with the supermarket. 

Ms Teer, along with other long-serving team members like Ms Forth, Robert Furnell, Wayne Galli and Kath Hinde, between them have a combined 167 years as Cole employees. 

Stores across Australia held morning teas to celebrate the centenary. 

The first store was established by GJ Coles on April 9, 1914, in Collingwood, Victoria, as a variety store offering nothing over two shillings and sixpence. 

In NSW, Coles opened its first variety store in Pitt St, Sydney, in 1928.

“We’re really excited about hosting a Coles centenary event at the Bega store today,” Ms Wright said.  

“Coles has definitely come a long way since the first store opened, but the company’s commitment to quality, service and value has remained unchanged.”

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