Woolworths (New Zealand)

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Woolworths Supermarkets (NZ)
Fatere-branded as Countdown
PredecessorDairy Farm, L.D. Nathan
Founded1929 (1929); 90 years ago
FounderPercy Christmas
Defunct2009; 10 years ago (2009)
Mount Maunganui
New Zealand
Number of locations
1 (2018)[1]
OwnerWoolworths Group
ParentProgressive Enterprises
(Woolworths Limited)
WebsiteWoolworths (New Zealand)

Woolworths is a former New Zealand supermarket chain and a unit of Woolworths Group in Australia. The chain has been re-branded as Countdown.


1929 - 1979 Woolworths[edit]

Ad for Woolworths NZ from 1949.

Founded in 1929 by Percy Christmas, the chain was separated from the parent company Woolworths Group in Australia and was called Woolworths New Zealand. During this period, the chain sold mainly variety and general merchandise products trading under the Woolworths brand.

In 1956, Woolworths first entered food retailing with their Food Fair store,[citation needed] and its first dedicated food store opened in 1963 in New Lynn.[2] It wasn't until 1967 that Woolworths launched its first Supermarket in Henderson.[citation needed]

Woolworths Supermarket, Upper Hutt, 1974

An article on NZ Foodstuffs history blog longwhitekid - "Research Sucks: Woolworths and the Advent of American Style" [3] about Woolworths Food Fair and food supermarkets, and the advent of American-type convenience shopping elements, explores the discrepancies in dates and who was first in the race to become the country's first, dedicated "U.S.-style" supermarket, depending on the definition of such.

Woolworths was expanding and in 1971 acquired the Self Help grocery chain and later rebranded these as Woolworths.

1979 - 1990 L.D. Nathan[edit]

In 1979, Woolworths was sold to L.D. Nathan. At that time, L.D Nathan owned the Super Value North Island supermarkets. They rebranded these stores to Woolworths.

1980 saw L.D. Nathan acquire the McKenzies General Merchandise stores. These stores were then rebranded as Woolworths. With the large number of general merchandise and supermarkets L.D Nathan decided in 1985 to split the into two separate divisions: supermarkets and general merchandise. L.D Nathan rebranded their General Merchandise business in 1988 to DEKA. 1987 and 1988 saw the launch of the Price Chopper and Big Fresh brands.

1990 - 2001 Dairy Farm International[edit]

Woolworths Wanganui now a Countdown

Ownership changed hands in 1990 when Hong Kong's Dairy Farm International acquired the Woolworths supermarket chain.

The chain had three supermarket brands, each with a different offering: Woolworths is a full-service supermarket; Big Fresh offered a themepark style shopping experience with model animals, dioramas and music; and Price Chopper was positioned in the discount sector.

The Woolworths stores are broad-range supermarkets with an average size of 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2). The Big Fresh stores were larger, with an average size of 51,000 sq ft (4,700 m2) and offered the widest possible selection and excellent value. The Price Chopper stores were compact with an average size of 14,000 sq ft (1,300 m2) and were limited-range discount stores located mainly in small towns.

In 1995, Woolworths introduced a pilot online shopping site with a small group of users. This was early days for online shopping in New Zealand. Woolworths was a key player in introducing online supermarket shopping to the New Zealand market.

In 1999, Woolworths developed a mini supermarket format at two BP fuel forecourts in a trial project, but BP pulled out of the project in 2000.

In 2000, The Food Safety First (FSF) Programme was introduced in all Woolworths and Big Fresh stores nationally. This programme employed HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). This programme was created by the Ministry of Health to identify all potential hazards and controls them before they result in food poisoning problems.

In 2001, Woolworths partnered with Gull Petroleum to establish mini supermarkets at Gull fuel forecourts called Woolworths @ Gull

2001 - 2009 Progressive Enterprises[edit]

Former Woolworths Logo used until 2009

In 2001, Dairy Farm International sold its Woolworths New Zealand Limited business and it merged with Progressive Enterprises, the operator of Foodtown, Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice. In 2005, Woolworths Limited re-acquired the New Zealand unit.

In 2003, the onecard was launched. This card offers shoppers exclusive discounts on products and entry into competitions. The card was previously known as the Foodtown card, but was relaunched with a new name after the merger between Progressive and Woolworths (NZ) Ltd. The card can now be used in Woolworths, Foodtown and Countdown stores.

Unlike membership-loyalty schemes in most retail outlets, Woolworth's Onecard specials are the predominant visible price on member-discounted products; you have to look closer to see the non-member price, which is typically above the price available at competing supermarkets.

In October 2006, Progressive Enterprises announced a Discount Fuel Scheme with Gull Petroleum and Shell to offer discounts on petrol when shoppers spend $40 or more in their Woolworths, Foodtown or Countdown Stores. This scheme is similar to the one their parent company Woolworths Limited offers in Australia.

In 2008 Progressive Enterprises approached its 943 New Zealand suppliers (which Woolworths calls "Trade Partners") to use electronic commerce or EDI to integrate supply chain orders (such as Purchase Orders and Invoices) in the same way that Woolworths does in Australia.[4]

2009-present: Rebranding[edit]

In September 2009, it was announced that the Woolworths brand would almost cease to exist as most of the stores would be rebranded as Countdown over a five-year period.[5] In spite of the change of name, the new Countdown stores would adopt the design and much of the branding of Australian Woolworths stores, including their "W" symbol launched in 2008.

Progress in the re-branding was swift. In August 2010, the Woolworths brand ceased to exist in the South Island. By 14 November 2011, the re-branding process was completed as the Meadowlands store was changed to Countdown.[6]

2018 - Present: Woolworths (Woolies) Mount Maunganui gets rebranded a Countdown Supermarket following the Closure of its shopping centre competitor and sister store Coutdown on the opposite side of the shopping Mall. This now marks the end of the Woolworths or Woolies name in New Zealand.

Private Label brands[edit]

  • Woolworths Select
  • Woolworths Home Brand
  • Woolworths Naytura
  • Woolworths Freefrom
  • Woolworths Essentials
  • Signature Range

Previous Private Label brands[edit]

  • Basics - Replaced by Homebrand in 2005
  • No Frills - No Frills was originally used with Franklins Australia as their generic range of products, with their ties to Dairy Farm International Holdings the No Frills product was launched into the Woolworths New Zealand Supermarket Group and had a huge success with the Price Chopper and Big Fresh brands. Originally, the No Frills brand was only used for its peanut butter, honey and potato chips but expanded its range to more than 800 products in packaged groceries and perishables.
  • First Choice - First Choice was another generic range of products Woolworths New Zealand Supermarket Group had sold. Launched in 1998, it was developed to provide an alternative to the leading brands but cheaper. First Choice products were typically priced between 10-15% less than the national brands. First Choice had over 600 different products.

These brands were dropped by Progressive Enterprises when Dairy Farm International Holdings sold the company in 2002, and replaced with the Signature Range (SR) and Basics brands. With the purchase of Progressive Enterprises by Woolworths Limited, these were then phased out and replaced with Woolworths Home Brand and Woolworths Select brands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Progressive Enterprises Ltd".
  2. ^ "Snap 'Em Mall". longwhitekid.wordpress.com. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Research Sucks: Woolworths and the Advent of American Style". longwhitekid.wordpress.com. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  4. ^ http://www.b2be.com/company_profile/case_studies/progressive__woolworths
  5. ^ "Foodtown, Woolworths brands on way out". The New Zealand Herald. 21 September 2009.
  6. ^ "Last Woolworths and Foodtown stores farewelled". Countdown. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012.

External links[edit]