Head of Investor Relations
Coles improves verification of reported data: the supermarket chain is embracing digital tools in its integrated reporting.
From the moment a company goes public, it becomes acutely aware of strict and onerous disclosure requirements that come with listing on the ASX. In particular, companies must ensure they comply with continuous disclosure obligations and are able to verify all the information they publish.
Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand defines integrated reporting as, "a holistic approach that shows investors how an organisation creates value over time". As the accounting body notes, "the goal of integrated reporting is to provide investors with the information they need to make more effective capital allocation decisions that facilitate better long-term investment returns".
Supermarket chain Coles is one business that has embraced integrated reporting. More recently, it has explored ways to use technology to verify the information in its reports.
supermarket chain, coles
Coles operates A network of 2,447 stores and employs 118,000 people across Australia in its supermarket, liquor and express shopfronts and other businesses.
The last year has been especially challenging for Coles as it navigated the vagaries of COVID and played a critical rolse in the community during this time.
annual report verification
For its most recent annual report, Coles had to verify more than 1,400 statements, involving more than 100 employees across the company. Traditionally, Coles has manually verified information.
In late 2020, with half-year reporting on the horizon, Coles' Head of Investor Relations Lisa Zimmet and her team were looking for opportunities to improve the way the business collected and verified data.
Atticus has been working with Coles since then, helping it to embed a new, digital information verification system across the business. The software company (Atticus) has a long history assisting law firms and other corporations to automate information verification.
In 2020, the Atticus verification management platform was used by 45% of IPOs on the ASX. It was also used to verify documentation on the biggest transaction on the ASX for a decade, the $15 billion merger between telcos Vodafone and TPG.
More than 30 members of the merger team were involved in the project to verify information in the transaction's scheme booklet. Atticus technology helped the team meet deadlines during the transaction, reducing the risk of errors and assisting to collate, organise and distribute documents during a critical period.
verification management platform
Atticus's verification management platform enables companies to securely upload a corporate report pre-disclosure, annotate statements, images and tables within the report and assign verification work to teams or individuals across a company.
Atticus enables companies to securely upload a corporate report pre-disclosure, annotate statements, images and tables within the report and assign verification work to teams or individuals across a company. The live platform enables cross-collaboration within a company, as multiple users collaborate on a single document at the same time.
Users value the ability to link supporting documents to statements, compare changes across multiple versions and export interactive reports. Atticus data shows clients save substantial time by automating the verification of information, freeing up staff to focus on initiatives that create value for the business.
Coles is now in the process of transforming how it verifies every non-audited corporate report across the company, including annual reports, investor presentations and sustainability and ESG reports.
With more scrutiny than ever on corporate reporting, many companies in the S&P / ASX 100 index are following Coles' approach in adopting verification software across their organisations.
offering efficiency gains, reduced risk, & ease of use