Australian retailer Woolworths Ltd today (2 November) announced far-reaching plans to double own-brand sales, open stores, revamp its online offering and overhaul its marketing.

The plans are new CEO Grant O'Brien's first major initiatives since he took the top job at Australia's number one retailer, which has seen rival Coles gain ground in recent months.

Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths' recently-appointed director of Australian supermarkets and petrol, said the company lags behind international retailers in own-brand sales and outlined a five-year plan to double take-up.

Jegen said: "Customers have told us loud and clear they love the value and quality offered by own brands. They have given us a firm mandate to deliver more of this and we will achieve it by expanding our ranges, lowering our prices, further improving our quality and strengthening our brand presence."

Meanwhile, O'Brien said the retailer would create 10,000 jobs as it opens a projected 117 stores, 39 of which will be supermarkets, adding: "Woolworths is committed to providing job and training opportunities for as many people as possible".

O'Brien also announced a major review of Woolworths' marketing functions. The retailer has appointed Elizabeth Ryley, the former head of marketing at subsidiary Progressive Enterprises in New Zealand, to the role of general manager of marketing.

Jegen, who will oversee the marketing overhaul, said: "My observations are that our customer communications over the last couple of years have been somewhat inconsistent and lacking in clarity. We have an incredibly strong brand with a proud Australian heritage and we need to make sure it is achieving its full potential."

Woolworths also aims to strengthen its online platform with smartphone shopping from 2012, a strategic reorganisation to focus on multi-channel growth and new and updated apps for supermarkets and Big W. The company said its aim is to become the country's leading multi-channel retailer.