45 not-out for Coles manager

Mark Oldfield celebrates his 45-year career at Coles. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 250379_05

By Danielle Kutchel

You wouldn’t know it just by looking at him, but Mark Oldfield, the store manager of Coles in Cranbourne West, recently celebrated a pretty big milestone.

Mr Oldfield has just notched up an incredible 45 years working at Coles – an impressive feat in a time when job turnover is the norm.

It all began on August 2 1976, after Mr Oldfield, then 17, saw an advertisement in the paper for a position with a Coles Variety store.

He attended an interview in the city and was offered a full-time job.

Mr Oldfield completed his training at the Coles Variety store in Prahran before moving to the Vermont South store.

He was then transferred to the supermarket side of the business about six months later – a role he preferred, because it was faster paced.

The stores back then were nothing like the stores we know today, but Mr Oldfield said you could tell which way the wind was blowing.

“You could see supermarkets were going to expand. It was a great career move because the Coles Variety stores have all gone,” he mused.

Since then he has worked through all the different supermarket departments; he’s been a grocer, done a stint as assistant store manager and eventually became a store manager.

The first store he managed was in South Richmond on Swan Street, about 38 years ago, he recalled.

He also worked in Warrnambool as assistant store manager for a time in his early 20s.

Mr Oldfield’s jobs at Coles have taken him through the western, northern, eastern and south eastern suburbs.

Over his 45 year tenure, he’s met many different faces.

“I’ve been lucky to work with so many different people from so many walks of life,” he said.

“It’s taught me a lot about our country and community. It’s fascinating to meet people from different countries and cultures.”

Then of course, there’s the technological advancements that have taken hold over the past four decades.

In the early days of Mr Oldfield’s career, there were no mobile phones or emails.

“Technology has been the biggest change,” he explained.

“When I first started, we had a big folder and walked around and ordered stock with a pen.

“Now we have auto-replenish where the system tells you when stock is coming in.

“We work in bigger volumes now. We’ve got so much range.”

He said he’d recommend a career at Coles for anyone who is hard-working and willing to learn.

Mr Oldfield said he certainly has no plans to go anywhere any time soon.

“I’m still enjoying it – if I didn’t, I would have gone!

“While I’m still enjoying it I’ll keep going.”