Woolworths Group has announced that New Zealand supermarket sales were up by $6.2 billion for the 2017 financial year. This represents an increase of 2.1 percent on the previous year. The group also reports that Countdown’s online store has again enjoyed double-digit growth, even in the face of increased competition.
The group owns 184 Countdown supermarkets plus the Progressive Enteprrises wholesale and franchise business in New Zealand, coordinating the Fresh Choice and SuperValue brands.
It says 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.
Profit was down 1.4 percent to $309.4 million, reflecting investments made in the core business through the year and impacts from earthquakes.
Store wages were up more than half a billion, or 6.2 percent, on the prior year. Woolworths Group says this reflects the company having “more people in our stores, doing more hours at higher rates of pay”, reporting that this has translated into improved customer service.
It intends to further invest in the team, and to also introduce a broad store refurbishment programme.
Countdown’s online store was the first of its kind in New Zealand by some 20 years. It finally encountered competition in 2016 when Foodstuffs launched an ecommerce platform in 2016.
Woolworths says Countdown online’s performance has hardly suffered, once again seeing double-digit growth and very high levels of customer advocacy.
Progressive Enterprises managing director, Dave Chambers, said; “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 lead 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.”