Following Shane Jones accusations in Parliament last week that Countdown is squeezing suppliers and has developed a 'dingo' mentality, our new guest blogger 'Earnest' takes a swipe at some of Countdown's practices on Waiheke.
It has certainly not been a good week for Countdown and for their Australian parent company Woolworths.
First there were reports that Woolworths were dropping Kiwi producers in favour of their own house brands across the Ditch.
Then there were the revelations made in Parliament by Shane Jones. He alleged, under Parliamentary privilege, that local Countdown managers were demanding money from suppliers should their supermarket not make their expected profits.
Now, when I grew up, and call me old fashioned here, suppliers got paid for supplying goods. Period. It was up to the retailer to then sell said goods at a profit or a loss. There was no comeback on the supplier after the event.
Countdown have furiously denied the allegations – and so they would. But even the Grocery Council, hardly a political organisation, reports that they had received complaints from disgruntled suppliers. Clearly something is up!
There are a number of similarities here to what has been happening with our local Countdown supermarket.
Product lines mysteriously disappear from the shelves – to be replaced instead by the generic house brands. When asked – supervisors simply reply “we don’t stock that anymore.”
Are we seeing evidence of an emerging ‘dingo culture’, as Shane Jones so colourfully put it, where the pursuit of profit justifies such dubious behaviour?
Are we witnessing the same profit motive, staff cuts and rampant cost saving measures in Ostend? Shelves remain unstocked for hours, perishable products sit on pallets in the sun, a single till open first thing in the morning.
And then there is the question of the workers. Now supermarkets are not known for being big payers of staff.
But when long serving locals get replaced by young individuals commuting from town – no doubt on the minimum wage - you have to wonder.
I think the time has come to take a serious look at our local supermarket and really question what is going on.
Countdown is our only full size supermarket on the island. Granted there is the 4 Square in Oneroa – which provides some choice and competition – but it is not a supermarket.
We need to ask ourselves as a community:
Perhaps it is time to approach Foodstuffs, the New Zealand owned supermarket chain, and invite them to build a new supermarket here on Waiheke?
Several commentators have asked me to publish their blogs on my site. The blogs on this page are not my own nor do they necessarily reflect my views. However, I do believe there is a need for a place where differing voices to those allowed in the local media can be expressed.