Cashflow, Finance

Wesfarmers beats out Woolworths to become Australia’s largest company

Ronelle Richards /

Wesfarmers is now become Australia’s biggest company, according to a report released yesterday.

The report, from business research firm IBISWorld, ranks companies by revenue.

The data shows how strong performances from both Coles and Bunnings helped Wesfarmers take out the top spot this year, up from third place in 2015.

Wesfarmers toppled BHP Billiton in this year’s list after the resource giant’s revenue fell 21%.

It is the first time BHP Billiton has not occupied the top spot in five years.

Read more: BHP still number one – Australia’s top 1000 companies  2015 revealed

Wesfarmers’ revenue increased by 4% to $62.7 billion last financial year, landing the retail giant in the top spot.

Despite posting a $972.7 million loss in its half-year results last month, Woolworths has managed to retain its second place ranking.

IBISWorld senior industry analyst Tristan Williams told SmartCompany this morning one of the most interesting things about this year’s list is the changing fortunes of Australia’s largest retailers.

“We’ve seen Wesfarmers’ revenue grow by around 3.9% to $62.7 billion on the back of strong performance of their grocery supermarket Coles and continuing dominance of Bunnings,” Williams says.

Williams says this is in stark contrast to Woolworths’ performance, with the company’s bottom line suffering due to a fall in revenue and the forthcoming closing of its DIY hardware chain Masters.

Rio Tinto has moved up into third place on the list after slipping into fourth last year, but a major downturn for mining companies is one of this year’s biggest trends, according to Williams.

“They’ve been really hit hard by weak commodity prices,” he says.

Williams says along with weak commodity prices, the South 32 demerger in May 2015 also contributed to BHP Billiton’s fall to fourth place.

This trend among resource companies is highlighted by the biggest fall in the list: Mount Gibson Iron plummeted 511 spots.

In contrast, exported beef has “skyrocketed”, says Williams, with the biggest mover on the list New South Wales based producer Bindaree Beef, which jumped from 873 on last year’s list to 535 this year.

Newcomers to the list point towards trends in travel and healthcare, with companies such as Intrepid Travel and Swisse Wellness making their debut.

“I think in terms of tourism and travel, business has grown strongly over the year,” Williams says.

The decrease in the Australian dollar is encouraging both international tourists and Australians to be holidaying around the nation, says Williams, which is benefiting companies like Intrepid Travel and Travelex.

“I think definitely in terms of tourism generally that has been increasing over the past five years since the Australia dollar has been declining over the past five years,” he says.

The big four banks took out places 5-8 on the list, with $3.5 trillion in assets between them.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia managed to overtake rival NAB for fifth place, with Westpac and ANZ retaining their seventh and eight rankings from last year.

Williams says that with the exception of NAB, the banks have all grown strongly in the past 12 months.

Top 10 biggest Australian companies by revenue


Prev. Company  Revenue ($m)

Change %

1 3 Wesfarmers (6/15) 62,777.00 3.9
2 2 Woolworths (6/15) 61,149.40 -0.1
3 4 Rio Tinto (12/14) 60,276.61 -6.9
4 1 BHP Billiton (6/15) 59,342.24 -21.3
5 6 Commonwealth Bank of Australia (6/15) 45,310.00 2.3
6 5 NAB (9/15) 43,650.00 -2.8
7 7 Westpac Banking Corporation (9/15) 39,670.00 2.7
8 8 ANZ Banking Group (9/15) 36,356.00 3.1
9 9 Telstra (6/15) 26,764.00 1.2
10 10 Caltex Australia (12/14) 24,240.16 -2.0


Ronelle Richards

Ronelle Richards is a former SmartCompany journalist. She is currently studying a Masters of Journalism at The University of Melbourne and has previously worked as a journalist and photographer at rural newspapers.