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"Coles is now in the process of transforming how it verifies every non-audited corporate report across the company.”

Summary

WHO
ASX Listed Company - $22 billion market cap.
VERIFICATION
All non-audited corporate reports.
INSIGHT
For the annual report alone, Coles has to verify more than 1,400 statements, involving more than 100 employees across the company.
AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES EXCHANGE (ASX)
Magazine Article - 26th April 2021

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.

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“A poor verification process places a company at risk of shareholder and regulatory action, including personal liability for CEOs and boards, as well as brand damage, and loss of trust within the market.” 

Trends in corporate reporting

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.

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In the past, (before Atticus) this process has been managed within the company using Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and endless email chains.

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.

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"We needed a solution that streamlined our processes and ensured we were meeting the strict regulatory requirements associated with verification."

Lisa Zimmet, Head of Investor Relations

Coles engages Atticus

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.

atticus

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.

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(Using Atticus) means Coles and other listed businesses are able to give investors greater confidence in the accuracy of information in their reports.

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.

digitising verification

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.

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Coles and Atticus are in the process of training 100 employees across the wider business to make the most of the (verification) software.

The new standard in verification

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

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Verification management software helps companies increase investor confidence in the accuracy and reliability of information contained in corporate reports, giving businesses that adopt this technology a competitive advantage in the market.

Other case studies

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Logo of Vodafone, a corporate reporting client of Atticus
Hear how Atticus streamline the verification process for the largest merger on the ASX in a decade ($15bn).
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With Atticus, verification no longer needs to be the most painful part of the disclosure process