Tuesday, 18 July 2023: Countdown has today announced its long term commitment to delivering New Zealand’s best supermarket experiences for customers and team with an accelerated transformation programme underway.
The transformation includes more value for customers through a refreshed loyalty programme with the launch of Everyday Rewards for New Zealand planned for early 2024. There is also significant investment planned with over $NZ400 million over the next three years allocated to a renewal of the store network, with a focus on older stores across Aotearoa.
Customers will also see more convenient eCommerce shopping options, a deeper connection to grassroots community activities, and further commitment to top quality fruit and vegetables with a state-of-the-art Christchurch Fresh Distribution Centre opening in 2024. This will complement the Auckland Fresh Distribution Centre which opened in 2022.
From early 2024, Countdown Supermarkets will be rebranded as Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand, a name well known locally given the brand’s long history in the country.
Managing Director of Countdown and Woolworths Group New Zealand, Spencer Sonn, says the supermarket retailer has been working hard to become a better business and do more to meet customers needs and expectations, and now is the time to accelerate that change.
“Having had the privilege of leading the New Zealand team for over two years now, I know there’s a lot that people love about what we do, and none of that will be going away. But our ambition is to be the best and to do this we know we need to be a better place to shop, better to work for and all-round better for Aotearoa’s tomorrow.
“We are proud to be part of New Zealand communities and with this transformation our customers can expect to see more value, better ways to shop in-store and online, sustained investment in our charity partnerships and for us to lead in sustainability.
“Delivering the best supermarket experiences includes our team too. We’re privileged to employ over 22,000 hard-working New Zealanders and we want to give each and every one of them a fantastic experience, whether it’s a part-time job after school, or a decades-long career with us.
“In the coming months and years, you’re going to see us bringing the best of the Woolworths brand across the Tasman and equally sharing the best of what we have here with the broader Woolworths Group. We’re changing for the better and a name change for our stores is just one part of that.”
Woolworths Group CEO, Brad Banducci says that Woolworths has a long history in New Zealand, opening its first New Zealand store in Wellington in 1929, and now operating 194 Countdown supermarkets across the country.
“I’m excited by today’s announcement and what it means for our continued commitment to New Zealand and its ongoing importance to Woolworths Group.
“The next stage of our transformation and the rebranding of our stores to Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand, means we’re doubling down on our trans-Tasman connection to bring the very best to our Kiwi customers. That includes a refreshed loyalty programme focused on providing more value and a materially improved fresh offer.”
Countdown Supermarkets will rebrand to Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand in early 2024 with individual store signage changes beginning in the coming months, and the entire network planned for the next couple of years.
Other parts of the supermarket’s transformation programme include investing in making stores safer with more than $NZ45 million of investment planned for adding security measures and upskilling team members. The business has also recently rolled out Sonder, a wellbeing solution across Woolworths Group that provides 24/7 access to care, not only for all of its team, but all of their whānau too.
Customers are invited to provide feedback and ask questions about today’s announcement through the dedicated portal: Woolworths-listens.co.nz
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Notes to editors:
About Woolworths Group New Zealand
Woolworths Group New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s largest employers with 22,000 team members across over 195 supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices. The retailer is also the franchisor of more than 70 SuperValue and FreshChoice stores, which are locally owned and operated. Each week we serve over three million customers and work with hundreds of food producers and suppliers throughout Aotearoa. We’re committed to giving back to the communities we live and work in, including through Countdown Food Rescue which donates more than $5.2 million of food each year to The Salvation Army and other food rescue groups and food banks. Through the Food for Good Foundation we also provide local funding and sponsorship to help Kiwis thrive by building a stronger, healthier New Zealand for the future. Find out more about Woolworths Group here.
Woolworths Group has a long history in Aotearoa
1929: First Woolworths store opens in Wellington’s Cuba St, trading as a general merchandise store
1958: Expansion is steady throughout the next three decades and by 1958, Woolworths has 52 stores across Aotearoa. In 1958, the business moves into groceries, trading as Woolworths Food Fair stores.
1958: First Foodtown owned by Progressive Enterprises store opens in Otahuhu, Auckland.
1960s: Woolworths Food Fair rebrands as Woolworths Supermarkets
1971: Woolworths acquires a chain of small self-help grocery stores and rebrands most of these to Woolworths.
1981: Rattrays Wholesale Group establishes Countdown Supermarkets and opens its first store in Northlands, Christchurch.
1993: Countdown and Foodtown business come under Woolworths New Zealand ownership.
1996: Woolworths launches New Zealand’s first online supermarket via a pilot site with a small group of users.
2003: The Foodtown Woolworths Onecard launches as an innovative new programme providing customers with reward benefits.
2005: Australian Woolworths Ltd acquires FAL and its Progressive Enterprises stores, including the Woolworths New Zealand chain.
2009 - 2011: All Woolworths and Foodtown stores rebrand to Countdown.
2011: Countdown launches New Zealand’s first national food rescue programme in partnership with The Salvation Army to supply food to families in need.
2012: Countdown introduces smartphone app for online grocery shopping.
2012: Countdown opens its first in-store pharmacy at Countdown Newtown in Wellington.
2015: Countdown launches Free Fruit for Kids - giving kids a nutritious snack to keep them busy while they shop with parents and caregivers.
2015: In partnership with The Salvation Army, Countdown launches Aotearoa’s first online foodbank, The Foodbank Project.
2016: Countdown rolls out Click & Collect service nationwide.
2018: Progressive Enterprises changes its name to Woolworths New Zealand.
2018:Countdown becomes the first supermarket in New Zealand to phase out single-use plastic carrier bags nationwide.
2019: Countdown announces nationwide rollout of low-sensory Quiet Hour in its stores with the support of Autism New Zealand.
2019: Countdown introduces age restriction for energy drinks to help improve health outcomes for Kiwi kids.
2020: Countdown opens first eStore in Penrose, Auckland.
2020: Countdown introduces priority delivery service for vulnerable customers during Covid-19 pandemic.
2020: Countdown launches Food for Good Foundation to provide meaningful support to communities.
2021: Countdown opens first Green Star rated store in Richmond, Nelson.
2022: Countdown opens Green Star rated Fresh Distribution Centre in Wiri, Auckland.
- 2023: Countdown announces rebrand to Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand.