01/03 Statement from Countdown: Omicron response

To be attributed to Kiri Hannifin, Director Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability. 

  • People are at the heart of the grocery industry and as of today, we have nearly 1,000 of our team members away, either isolating as a positive case or as a household contact.  In our Auckland stores, we are about 10% down in team numbers, and in our two Auckland distribution centres, we’re around 45% down.  We are in regular contact with our team members and thankfully, they are all doing okay.

  • As people come back from being unwell or isolating, we’re also seeing more people go off work, so we’re continuing to prepare for increased numbers of sickness and people away.  Many of our suppliers, growers and manufacturers are also feeling the same sort of impacts, particularly where there are specialist skills impacted like butchers, forklift and truck drivers.

  • The key thing is that there is plenty of food and groceries to go around - it’s just taking longer to get through.  Please bear with us.

  • As has been the case with supply chains around the world dealing with omicron, this kind of disruption to the workforce is hard to manage, but we’re doing our best and bringing on temporary team members where we can, keeping up our recruitment and we’ve also seconded team from our support offices too.

  • With fewer team members available to work across the network, we’re prioritising getting key lines and essentials into our stores, so customers may not always see their favourite brands or products.  We’re also changing how we operate in some stores and distribution centres, by doing things like temporarily shifting team around to support critical areas and reducing hours if we need to.

  • Across our online business, we are starting to see fewer delivery slots available and our supply chain impacts mean customers will see more substitutions in their orders. Our team is  doing their best to ensure our customers, particularly those who are staying at home and isolating, get what they need, but it is challenging at the moment. 

  • Customers will start to see Rapid Antigen Tests available at Countdown Pharmacies around the country this week and these will retail at $32.99 for a five-pack.  We have a limited supply of RATs for sale at the moment as we have focused on having tests available in critical parts of our supply chain first, but we’ll be selling RATs in more stores as they come through from our suppliers.


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