Wellington Scoop

Farewell to Woolworths, born in Cuba Street in 1929

Press Release – Progressive Enterprises
Progressive Enterprises today farewelled the Woolworths brand, which began in Cuba Street in Wellington in 1929. The change (which also wipes out the company’s Foodtown brand) marks the final stage of transition to the ‘new generation’ Countdown brand.

Woolworths Meadowlands and Foodtown Browns Bay were the last stores in New Zealand to carry the brands. The stores have reopened today as Countdown supermarkets, marking the completion of a major milestone in the company’s commitment to invest $1 billion in its store network nationwide.

In 2009 Progressive Enterprises announced plans to transition all its supermarkets to the Countdown brand, with a gradual phasing in of a new modern identity. Over 60% of our 159 stores nationwide have also undergone a full refurbishment to incorporate the New Generation Countdown design features including wider aisles, expansive fresh food departments, and a range of environmental initiatives designed to help minimise the store’s carbon footprint.

Progressive Enterprises Managing Director Dave Chambers said although the company was looking to the future, it is proud of the heritage of the Woolworths and Foodtown brands. “The retailers who started and grew these supermarkets decades ago have taught us so much, and these lessons will continue to serve our company long into the future,” he said.

In 1929, the first Woolworths store opened in Cuba Street, Wellington, operating as a General Merchandise store. Woolworths’ first foray into food retailing came in 1956 with the opening of its first “Food Fair” store at Panmure. Foodtown was born on June 18, 1958 with founders Tom Ah Chee and Norm Kent opening their first store in Otahuhu. Mr Chambers says the company has been proud to be a part of many additional industry firsts since then.

“From 10 pounds of potatoes for 29 cents to a week’s groceries delivered to your door at the click of a mouse button, supermarket retailing has experienced a significant change, and we have been at the forefront of much of that change,” he said.

Mr Chambers also congratulated the long serving team members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Woolworths and Foodtown brands. “The strength of our company has always been the people who work in it, and I am inspired by our team members who share the pride and enthusiasm of Woolworths and Foodtown’s achievements throughout the years.”

Mr Chambers said he is looking forward to adding more team members to the Countdown team this year. “We’re committed to providing job and training opportunities for New Zealanders. Retailing is an exciting career and one where you can work your way up from the shop floor to the Managing Director’s office, which was exactly my own path. This financial year we will create 660 jobs with the opening of five stores. These team members will help create the next chapter of Countdown in New Zealand,” Mr Chambers said.

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