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Progressive Enterprises - owner of New Zealand's Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets - plans to spend up to $200 million a year opening new supermarkets and refurbishing existing stores.

The Australian supermarket giant yesterday said it hoped to open three to five supermarkets every year for the next five while also refurbishing 18 to 20 stores every year for the next three to five years. The new stores would significantly boost jobs, with 120 roles created for every supermarket opened.

The company at present employs 19,000 people across 148 supermarkets.

Greg Foran, director of food, liquor and petrol for New Zealand and Australia for Woolworths - the parent company of Progressive - said the company had a long-term commitment to New Zealand and its growth plans represented a major vote of confidence in the New Zealand economy.

"Progressive plans a net increase in jobs by the end of 2009," Foran said.

"With plans to roll out three to five new store each year for the next five years ... we have a real need to find more skilled retailers to join our team."

In total it would spend $150 million to $200 million a year on the growth programme.

In the past three years the company had spent $320 million on store refurbishments, new land and buildings as well as new backend systems.

Progressive Enterprises managing director Peter Smith said it had already installed new ordering, merchandising, point-of-sale and back-office systems.

As a result of this Progressive and Woolworths now shared a common IT platform and back-office systems.

Smith said this would mean changes to head office areas such as accounting and IT and was likely to affect 100 jobs.

However, he said, "we are working on alternative career and job opportunities within Progressive and the greater Woolworths Group".

Woolworths Group also has a 10 per cent stake in The Warehouse, which it tried to bid for.

The bid was blocked by a Commerce Commission ruling which Woolworths challenged last year but later dropped after the Warehouse decided to abandon its Extra supermarket plans.

The Australian company has not made any moves to restart the takeover process since then.