Brace for Severely Limited Supply Chain Capacity

In a message sent this week to its supplier and agency partners, Countdown has warned firms to brace for disruption as it struggled to receive goods and said it would likely have to prioritise essential categories and lines.

Countdown’s ambient Auckland distribution centres were highlighted as being under particular pressure in the email signed by commercial director packaged goods, drinks, everyday needs and replenishment, Steve Mills, and commercial director of fresh and FoodCo, Pieter De Wet.

“Our supply chain capacity has been severely limited over the last few days with team having to isolate, particularly in our ambient Auckland Distribution Centres,” the message stated.

“You may have already noticed this and unfortunately customers (particularly in the North Island) will start to see some significant gaps on shelves over the coming days, especially in meat with our processing plants and suppliers particularly impacted by Covid-19 cases at the moment.”

This may also mean some disruption to inbound with reduced capacity and slower than usual truck turnaround times.

Countdown said it was working hard to get capacity back up across ambient DCs, fresh DCs and processing plants but was expecting “it will be a tough few weeks ahead”.

While the news that non-symptomatic close contacts no longer needed to isolate would help “in the short-term,” it expected to be impacted heavily and quickly as cases and household spread increased.

“With these continuing challenges, we may need to prioritise certain categories and lines to make sure the essentials are on shelf for Kiwis.”

Countdown said it had worked with its supply partners to stand up direct-to-store deliveries (DSD) and cross-docking to keep product moving, especially across key lines. The email asked suppliers to keep communicating about any challenges in their own supply chains, so it could reduce the impact on customers as much as possible.

“It’s likely to be a challenging few weeks ahead and we’ll need to remain agile with our planning," the message concluded.

“We appreciate that it’s not easy for anyone at the moment so we really do value your continued partnership.”