Coles had always been a variety store but, in 1958, the company began its move into the grocery business. It took over the S.E. Dickins chain in Victoria, rebranding some stores as Coles Dickins. This was soon followed by the acquisition of chains in South Australia and New South Wales.>Coles
S. E. Dickins was a former manager at Moran & Cato, a grocery chain that traced its origins back to Frederick Cato’s first store in 1881. Dickins first established his grocery chain in Geelong, then expanded into Melbourne and beyond. The company merged with a Melbourne grocery wholesaler John Connell & Co. Ltd in the 1940s to expand its business further. By 1958 the chain was operating 54 retail stores, most of which were self-service.
After Coles acquired the business in 1958, some stores were rebranded Coles Dickins. The branding was even carried interstate with newly opened stores. The first New South Wales store opened in Grafton in 1959. Other stores continued to carry the S. E. Dickins branding even after Coles had begun calling its supermarkets New World.
In 1959, Coles acquired the S. O. Beilby grocery chain in South Australia and the following year, after a bidding war with Woolworths, also took over the Matthews Thompson chain of 265 grocery stores in New South Wales. Coles first supermarket, on the corner of Burke and Doncaster Roads in Balwyn, Melbourne, originally traded under the Dickins name.