At the start of this week Woolworths Group announced its earnings results for HY17, boasting a 1.6 percent sales increase for a total of NZ$3.2 billion.
Woolworths Group is the owner of Countdown and Progressive Enterprises’ franchise businesses SuperValue and FreshChoice. Comparable sales for the half were flat, but increased 1.1%, excluding bulk gift card sales.
Customers have responded positively to lower prices and an improved service and fresh food offer.
According to the financial review, EBIT declined 4.5% on the previous year to NZ$163 million, driven by the cycling of bulk gift card sales, costs associated with the new Onecard loyalty alliance with AA Smartfuel, and some expenses related to the November earthquake.
Countdown has introduced a family violence policy, a contestable fund for Countdown’s food rescue charity partners, and launched health and nutrition targets, to support healthier customer choices.
New recyclable meat trays were also rolled out, which will save hundreds of tonnes of polystyrene going to landfill annually.
Progressive Enterprises managing director, Dave Chambers, said: “Countdown customers are benefiting from lower grocery prices, better customer service, and an improved loyalty programme through our partnership with AA Smartfuel. Our customer satisfaction scores are continuing to rise."
In the first half of the financial year, Progressive opened one replacement Countdown store and refurbished two Countdown stores. It also opened one new SuperValue store.
“The result is particularly impressive given the impacts on the business resulting from the New Zealand earthquakes late in 2016. Most importantly, all our team and customers were safe. However, there were additional costs incurred, not all of which were covered by insurance," says Chambers
Countdown has also invested in more hours in stores to improve customer service and are expecting good middle earnings for the next finical quarter.