Today Woolworths Group announced its earning result for FY17, including results for the New Zealand Supermarkets business which includes Countdown and the Progressive Enterprises wholesale and franchise business. The business finished the financial year with record high customer metrics and team engagement scores.

New Zealand Supermarkets sales were $6.2 billion (NZD), an increase of 2.1 percent from last year. Sales in the first half of last year were assisted by the bulk sales of gift cards and excluding these, full year sales growth was 2.8 percent. Comparable stores sales increased 1.2 percent or 1.8 percent excluding bulk gift card sales.

Easter adjusted sales in Q3’17 and Q4’17 were up 2.2 percent and 3.4 percent respectively. This reflects the sales momentum the business is taking into FY18.

"EBIT (profit) was down 1.4 per cent to $309.4 million (NZD), reflecting investments made in our core business through the year and impacts from the New Zealand earthquakes," said Progressive Enterprises Managing Director, Dave Chambers.

Store wages paid in New Zealand were over $0.5 billion, up 6.2 per cent from the prior year. This reflects more people in its stores, doing more hours at higher rates of pay. For customers, this has translated into improved service.

Looking ahead, the business intends to further invest in our team to provide customers with greater service, and also in its stores with a broad store refurbishment programme.

Countdown will continue to invest in its online business. In FY17, its online business again enjoyed double digit growth and very high levels of customer advocacy.

"Like our customers, we are firmly focussed on the cost of food. This year there have been price fluctuations in fresh fruit and vegetables, given difficult growing conditions. The Countdown food price index showed a modest increase of just 0.4 per cent across all products over the FY17 year. Approximately 3,500 products are now at low prices every day, as part of the Price Down programme.

“We are proud of our strong sales result, reflecting that our customer satisfaction and team engagement scores are also now at all time highs.

“Through FY18 we are going to continue to invest in our business and our people, to keep improving our customer experience. We’ve led the way with employment practices, including our family violence and gender transitioning policies.

“We will also continue to provide an unrivalled convenience for New Zealanders with our network of stores, successful Onecard partnership with AA Smartfuel, and our nationwide online shopping business.

“Over the next year, we will maintain a steadfast focus on the quality of our fresh foods, our prices and improved service. In this competitive landscape, Countdown customers continue to recognise our improvements and more and more customers are choosing to shop with us.”