Dave Chambers, managing director, Countdown

by Dave Chambers, Managing Director, Progressive Enterprises

Happy New Year and I hope you had a relaxing break. I would like to thank all our teams and our suppliers for their hard work leading into Christmas and over the holiday period; together we had a very good Christmas. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will finally have got some long awaited sunny weather so that we see continued sales growth on traditional summer products, instead of a rise in cough and cold remedies!

We were also delighted to donate more than 670 trolleys full of groceries around the country to The Salvation Army as part of our Christmas Food Rescue Appeal.

As well as being extremely busy on the shop floor, we opened our new Countdown Aotea store in Porirua. We had hundreds of locals attending the celebrations on opening day and we are continuing to trade well since. We are now completing the finishing touches to our new Mosgiel store which we will be opening shortly.

This month we have announced the findings from our third annual Trolley Report, which is a comprehensive look at grocery trends in New Zealand based on our own data from the three million Kiwis who shop with us each week.

Countdown remains committed to delivering our customers low prices they can count on. This focus saw price deflation of 0.2 percent in the year to 30 June 2016. We continue to focus on making groceries more affordable in a really competitive market.

There are now 3,000 products in our Price Down programme; the most popular is Homebrand $1 bread. And while our own brand tinned tomatoes, biscuits and chips feature at 8, 9 and 10 on the list of most popular Price Lockdown products, branded products are also heavily represented. These include Quilton toilet paper, Tip Top Soft Bread, Kiwi Blue Water, and Peckish Thins Rice Crackers, all on Lockdown.

We know that convenience has become key to customer shopping habits and we can now see that having additional services available under one roof is helping to give our customers back some valuable time. This is evident through the continued sales growth of prescriptions via our in-store pharmacies and the continued popularity of our online shopping and Click and Collect services.

Another perfect example of our customers wanting more services to make their lives easier is our latest endeavor with NZ Post. We now have a pick-up service for couriers from 38 of our stores nationwide. In December alone, we arranged more than 2,500 pick-ups for our customers from Countdown stores. We expect this trend to grow, as customers become more aware of the service.

Another interesting trend, and a topic that is featuring heavily in the media, is plastic bag use. In our 2016 figures, we have discovered that our customers bought almost 430,000 reusable bags last year which is an increase of almost 130 percent year-on-year. This shows customers are making the move to more sustainable choices, which is something we actively support.

The report also looks at Countdown’s top sellers across the supermarket, which makes for an interesting read—some of the results might surprise you.
To see the full Trolley Report, visit our website