Tom Jones-Griffiths is the store manager of the newly opened Countdown in Newmarket. With previous retail experience, he has found a love for the supermarket industry. "My passion is developing people and being part of a big team, the energy and pace in grocery retailing is amazing, no two days are the same," Jones-Griffiths told SupermarketNews. "I have worked in retail for 18 years. Most of my career was spent in the UK with some major non-food retailers. I moved into grocery two and a half years ago when I came to New Zealand.”

All those years in the industry has paid off for Jones-Griffiths. "Earlier this year, I was awarded Countdown Store Manager of the Year, which made me immensely proud. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such wonderful people who have supported my career." Jones-Griffiths takes his managerial role very seriously and sees many growth opportunities for the future of the store.

The store opened in late November and has been designed to give customers a unique and premium shopping experience. "I think we have done a superb job on the design and feel of our whole store. My favourite part would be our liquor section, The Cellar." Jones-Griffiths refers to the design of the store and the unity of his team as the most significant highlights. "We have some wonderful colleagues that are excited about being part of the community and are committed to making Kiwis lives better."

As supermarkets are seeing a rise in convenience through the growth in online shopping and meal solutions, Jones-Griffiths has noticed the opportunity to expand accessibility in all food categories. "Especially in our health food category, I believe we have done a great job putting together options for every occasion."

"The range in Newmarket is fabulous, and we're continuing to work with our category buyers to keep adding more fantastic innovation through the health section."Health has become a massive priority for Countdown. We’re committed to supporting initiatives that inspire healthy eating to address the health challenges that many New Zealanders are facing. Under the Government's Childhood Obesity Plan, Countdown has signed up to six retail industry pledges to help meet health and nutrition targets.

Countdown Newmarket also does their part with the environment and maintaining a sustainable business. "We are partnering with Westfield Newmarket to reduce the waste that goes into the landfill over the coming year," Jones-Griffiths explained. "At Countdown, we’re working hard to reduce waste across the store. We’re also committed to advancing a circular economy wherever we can. For example, we have introduced recycled hard plastic packaging for our in-store bakery products, which can be recycled. The packaging is made by recycling plastic sourced from New Zealand’s own waste stream.”

The store has developed relationships with food waste partners at the Salvation Army and Kiwi Harvest, which benefit the community. Along with this, the store has also developed a close relationship with the local primary school. "We truly believe that food is an amazing way for families to connect and we are working with the school to support them in food education and understanding how businesses can support sustainability."

Despite all the success, Jones-Griffiths  also shared some of the challenges the store has faced. "The biggest challenge in the industry is responding to the customer's transition to the convenience of online shopping and more frequent top-up visits to the supermarket. Customers are further away from the big weekly shop, and we need to inspire them with meal solutions and healthy, easy options." In response to these challenges, the store has taken the initiative and created the ideal destination for convenience and food to go. "Our amazing deli team have created fantastic quality and value through a huge range of sandwiches, paninis, pastries and hot food options. Produce has a large variety of salads, fresh-cut fruits and greens."

As Westfield Newmarket surrounds the store, Countdown customers have the chance to have a premium shopping experience. "They can feel cared for and inspired by our service, presentation and freshness." As the store is perfectly surrounded by Westfield Newmarket, Countdown customers have the chance to have a premium shopping experience. “They can feel cared for and inspired by our service, presentation and freshness.”