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The first Big W opened in 1964 at Jesmond, New South Wales. The chain grew out of Woolworths Limited's original Variety Stores.
By 1989, the separation of Big W and Woolworths Supermarkets was largely completed, although a few Woolworths Variety Stores continued to operate into the nineties.
On 27 July 2017 Big W unveiled a new look, midway between its previous logos from 1976 and 1989.