Supermarket owners tight-lipped

By John Maslin

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Progressive Enterprise, which operates the Countdown supermarket chain, is non-committal about either of Whanganui's two stores being among those tagged for closure.

The closures are part of a major restructuring announced by Woolworths Australia which owns the Progressive Enterprises. Progressive runs 184 Countdown stores on this side of the Tasman.

Its Waihi store has already closed and the Rangiora supermarket is set to close on October 2.

It also owns the Super Value supermarkets and Whanganui has one outlet in Gonville.

James Walker, Countdown's corporate affairs general manager, told the Chronicle another four stores will close but would not say if either the Whanganui Countdown stores - in Trafalgar Square and upper Victoria Ave - were in the frame.

"We can't reveal the other four stores we will close before the end of lease terms at the moment as we still need to have commercial discussions with landlords," Mr Walker said.

"When we have more information we will be letting our customers and team know. But we are committed to serving the community of Whanganui," he said.

Mr Walker said over the next 12 months the group will open three new stores and two replacement stores.

He said this year Progressive Enterprises would be employing 600 more people bringing the total staff level to more than 18,000.

But First Union, which represents about 6500 supermarket workers, told Radio NZ they had no idea where the other four stores were.

Secretary Maxine Gay said they wanted Countdown to say where those supermarkets were because "it's had an incredibly unsettling effect on all Countdown workers".

"They're calling the union and their organisers, wanting to know whether or not it's their shop, how safe they are and we of course are not able to tell them, because we don't know," Ms Gay said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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