Foodtown outlets changing into Countdowns
4:00AM Tuesday Sep 23, 2008
By Errol Kiong

Foodtown supermarkets are increasingly being converted into Countdowns as the chain's Australian owners try to capitalise on shoppers' growing budget consciousness.

Progressive Enterprises, which owns the Woolworths, Foodtown and Countdown supermarkets, has been gradually turning sites with Foodtowns - its upmarket brand - into budget-banner Countdown.

To date, stores in Auckland's Greenlane, Wanganui, Rotorua and Napier have been converted into Countdowns, while the Botany outlet has been extensively refurbished. A sixth store, a Foodtown in North Shore's Sunnynook, takes on the new banner at the year's end.

The company says the three Auckland stores will be "new generation" Countdowns offering a wider product range similar to the Foodtowns.

Progressive Enterprises managing director Peter Smith says the move gives customers the chance to "experience the product range and service available at Foodtown and the cost structure available in a Countdown".

The company will be hoping the move gives it the upper hand in the battle with arch-rival Foodstuffs. The New Zealand owned co-operative, which runs the New World and PAK'nSAVE supermarkets, has proven the more dominant player in the grocery duopoly, despite the monetary might of Aussie giant Woolworths, which bought Progressive two years ago.

Mr Smith says the Greenlane store has been a big hit. "Customers have warmed to it very quickly."

But he says there is no decision to change all stores into Countdowns.

The company has been tinkering with its retailing formula in New Zealand, including the removal of 24-hour trading at some outlets such as Grey Lynn Foodtown, but said there were no plans to abolish 24-hour trading.

From here.