Business Review

New Zealand Food

Countdown is the main brand for Progressive Enterprises Ltd’s owned and operated stores. We have 184 Supermarkets throughout New Zealand, serving an average of 2.8 million customers every week. We are one of New Zealand’s largest employers, partner with thousands of suppliers and farmers, and are active in local communities.




Over the last year, Countdown has seen price deflation of 0.2% across our stores, driven by our focus on helping customers save money through our successful Price Lockdown program. Countdown tracks the prices of a basket of 100 of the most commonly purchased items, including those with substantial seasonal and commodity price variations. In FY16 this basket reduced in price by 1.2%.



Countdown is an active participant in the New Zealand HeartSAFE reformulation program. Led by the New Zealand Heart Foundation, the program sets targets for sodium reduction in high-volume, lower-cost foods.

To date, we are 90% complete in six categories and are working to meet targets for four more. As well as looking at sodium, our reformulation work also aims to reduce saturated fat and, in some categories, sugar. As a result of this work, we are removing 1.3 tonnes of salt from our private label breakfast cereals every year.


In October 2015, Countdown launched Woolworths’ Free Fruit for Kids program in all stores to encourage Kiwi kids to eat more fresh fruit. This has been a huge success; on average, Countdown supermarkets are now giving away an estimated 50,000 pieces of free fruit every week.



We are systematically reformulating our Own Brand products in line with good health guidelines. Countdown was one of the first large brand owners in New Zealand to commit to the Health Star Rating system and we are working to roll out Health Star Ratings on more than 2,000 Own Brand products. So far, we have reviewed 394 products, and each now has a clearly displayed Health Star Rating.


We are proud of our role helping young Kiwis into the workforce. At the end of FY16 we had 6,061 team members aged under 25.

This year we had an increased focus on reviewing the number of team members on casual contracts. Through better management, we were able to offer some people more permanent hours and wound up contracts where there had been no contact for over six months.

We celebrate diversity of ethnicity, gender and age – 543 of our team have been with us for over 25 years and 2,769 team members are aged over 55 (over 15% of our total workforce).


Reducing the environmental impact as our business grows means making a concerted effort across all areas of the business. During FY16, we maintained our focus on contributing to the Group’s targets and commitments to reduce carbon emissions, improve recycling and reduce waste.



To offset the impact of new stores, we have made sizeable energy efficiency gains quickly in existing stores. These resulted in reduction in energy intensity of our stores by 3% from 2015.

Countdown’s FY16 energy performance

  FY15 FY16
Energy intensity (GJ/square m) 2.82 2.75
Carbon intensity (tCO2-e/square m) 0.26 0.33

Countdown uses third party providers to transport goods from our Distribution Centres to stores. By working with them to improve our logistics network and planning, we reduced fuel usage per carton in FY16 by 2% compared to the previous year.


In July 2015, Countdown became a foundation member of the Soft Plastics Recycling Program to encourage our customers to recycle soft plastics such as bread bags and shopping bags in specially marked bins in our stores. We plan to introduce soft plastics recycling to 70% of New Zealand supermarkets over the next two years. Since an initial trial in Auckland, Countdown customers have recycled 2,434.5kg of soft plastics through our stores.

Countdown Waiheke became New Zealand’s first plastic shopping bag free supermarket on 23 May 2016. Waiheke is a unique environment where rubbish has to be transported off the island. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags and we have reusable bags and new compostable bags available for purchase in-store.


Countdown is one of New Zealand's largest employers. At the end of FY16, Countdown employed 17,872 New Zealanders in our stores, distribution centres, and support offices. During the year we invested $214 million in new and replacement stores and refurbishments, which resulted in an additional 789 jobs.


Supporting local farmers

Countdown has a proud history of helping grow Kiwi businesses as part of our commitment to providing our customers with quality products at competitive prices and supporting local suppliers. In particular, having locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables is important to our customers.

A choice of eggs

During FY16 we continued to increase free range and barn eggs in our stores as we gained access to more supply. At the end of the year, 42% of our egg sales were free range or barn eggs 1.

An example of our approach to working with egg producers is our work with Otaika Valley Eggs. In October 2015 we began stocking some of their free range eggs in 20 Auckland stores. Now, we stock them in 70 stores across the North Island and have sold about 85,000 dozen of their eggs in total.

SPCA Blue Tick

SPCA Blue Tick is an accreditation scheme focused on high animal welfare. At the end of FY16 we had 45 chicken, pork, and egg products with Blue Tick accreditation, including all our Own Brand Macro free range chicken and all our free farmed pork.


Countdown in the Community

In FY16 our stores donated NZ$347,349 to local and national charities and causes under our Countdown in the Community program, from helping to paint a play centre in Northland to donating food to The Salvation Army for a national Christmas campaign.

Connecting customers with causes

Throughout 2015/16, Countdown customers gave generously. They donated a total of more than NZ$1.3 million to causes such as Oxfam’s Cyclone Winston Appeal and The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal.

They also donated to the national Alzheimer’s Appeal. Countdown has supported this Appeal for more than 13 years and raised $1.5 million. Our annual Suppliers’ Charity Golf Day also raised NZ$141,000 for Alzheimer’s Auckland.

Countdown Food Rescue

Just like Woolworths Supermarkets in Australia, Countdown supports local people in need by donating food to food charity partners and partnering with farmers. During the year we continued to extend Countdown Food Rescue to more local food charities. This year we welcomed Food Rescue charities KiwiHarvest, Good Neighbour and Kaivolution to the program.

The Foodbank Project: a New Zealand first

In December 2015, Countdown and The Salvation Army launched New Zealand’s first online food donation initiative, The Foodbank Project. This enables donors to see which items are most needed by The Salvation Army’s foodbanks.

The Foodbank Project was initially trialled in September 2015 and has since rolled out to Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. It is New Zealand’s only not-for-profit, self-sustaining online foodbank. So far, this initiative has provided around 1,186 food parcel items for New Zealanders in need, worth NZ$77,781.


Countdown Kids’ Hospital Appeal

Held from August to October 2015, this year the Countdown Kids’ Hospital Appeal raised nearly NZ$1.14 million thanks to the generosity of our customers, team and suppliers. The funds contributed to the purchase of much-needed medical equipment for 11 children's hospital wards throughout New Zealand. Since it first began in 2007, the Countdown Kids’ Hospital Appeal has raised NZ$9.3 million.

  1. 52 weeks of data to 10 July 2016.