Supermarket giant rebranding back to Woolworths at cost of $400 million

Publish Date
Tuesday, 18 July 2023, 1:22PM
Countdown supermarkets will be rebranded as Woolworths again. Photo / Supplied

Countdown supermarkets will be rebranded as Woolworths again. Photo / Supplied

Supermarket giant Countdown is spending $400 million on a transformation plan, including rebranding back to Woolworths from early 2024.

The signage of the stores will start changing in the next couple of months, but the complete rebranding will take some time. The entire network of 194 Countdown stores will take a couple of years to switch.

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Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said Woolworths had a long history in New Zealand, opening its first New Zealand store in Wellington in 1929.

It has been 14 years since the Countdown brand slowly replaced Woolworths and Foodtown stores in New Zealand. The last stores were rebranded in 2011.

Woolworths Meadowlands in Manukau and Foodtown Browns Bay on Auckland’s North Shore were the last to go and both rebranded in November 2011.

Banducci said the change of name was just one part of the supermarket’s planned transformation.

“I’m excited by today’s announcement and what it means for our continued commitment to New Zealand and its ongoing importance to Woolworths Group,” he said.

Woolworths Kensington, Whangārei in 2010. Photo / NZME

“The next stage of our transformation and the rebranding of our stores to Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand means we’re doubling down on our transtasman connection to bring the very best to our Kiwi customers.

“That includes a refreshed loyalty programme focused on providing more value and a materially improved fresh offer.”

The “refreshed loyalty programme” with a launch of Everyday Rewards for New Zealand is planned for early 2024.

The company plans to invest more than $400m over the next three years, upgrading the store network, with a focus on older stores across Aotearoa.

A state-of-the-art Christchurch Fresh Distribution Centre will be opened in 2024.

The Auckland Fresh Distribution Centre opened in 2022.

Managing director of Countdown and Woolworths Group New Zealand, Spencer Sonn, said the supermarket retailer had been working hard to become a better business and it was time “to accelerate that change”.

“Having had the privilege of leading the New Zealand team for over two years now, I know there’s a lot that people love about what we do, and none of that will be going away,” Sonn said.

“In the coming months and years, you’re going to see us bringing the best of the Woolworths brand across the Tasman and equally sharing the best of what we have here with the broader Woolworths Group. We’re changing for the better and a name change for our stores is just one part of that.”

The History of Woolworths in New Zealand

● 1929: First Woolworths store opens in Wellington’s Cuba St, trading as a general merchandise store.

● 1958: First Foodtown owned by Progressive Enterprises store opens in Otahuhu, Auckland.

● 1981: Rattrays Wholesale Group establishes Countdown Supermarkets and opens its first store in Northlands, Christchurch.

● 1993: Countdown and Foodtown business come under Woolworths New Zealand ownership.

● 2005: Australian Woolworths Ltd acquires FAL and its Progressive Enterprises stores, including the Woolworths New Zealand chain.

● 2009-2011: All Woolworths and Foodtown stores rebrand to Countdown.

● 2018: Progressive Enterprises changes its name to Woolworths New Zealand.

● 2023: Countdown announces rebrand to Woolworths Supermarkets New Zealand.


This article was first published in the NZ Herald by Kirsty Wynn and is republished here with permission.


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