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Supermarket chain Progressive Enterprises is planning to spend up to $200 million annually on new supermarkets and refurbishing existing stores during the next five years.

Owned by Australian-based Woolworths, the company today said it had spent $320m on a large programme of work during the past three years, since Woolworths bought Progressive in late 2005.

That work included installing new ordering, merchandising, point of sale and back office systems, as well as store refurbishments and buying land and buildings for new supermarkets.

Progressive employs more than 19,000 staff nationwide and owns 148 Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets.

Spending of $150m to $200m a year would fund the development of three to five new supermarkets each year for the next five years, and refurbishment of 18 to 20 stores every year for the next three to five years.

Progressive said it also intended to integrate back office support services including accounting and information technology to Woolworths' shared services platform, establish new functions in-house which were previously outsourced at high cost, and invest in improved supply chain systems.

Progressive managing director Peter Smith said the company expected to increase its total staff numbers in 2009.

Each new store would add at least 120 new jobs once opened, he said.

While about 100 support positions could be affected by proposed changes, the company was working on alternative career and job opportunities within Progressive and the greater Woolworths group.

- NZPA