New Role For Dave Chambers

Dave Chambers, Managing Director of Countdown, is set to take on a new role as Director for Woolworths Supermarkets, based in Sydney.

There has been no mention yet of who will take over Mr Chambers’ current role.

Dave Chambers started his career with Countdown in 1979, as a shelf stacker in a Foodtown store in Auckland.

In 2013, after allegations of bullying were levelled at the chain, then-Labour MP Shane Jones set out to worry the reputation of the company like a dog with a bone.
Dave Chambers handled the whole situation with professionalism and aplomb.
When the Commerce Commission finally found that the allegations were unsubstantiated in late 2014, Mr Chambers responded in his usual fashion, simply stating he was pleased that the investigation was over, and acknowledged the efforts of the many employees who work hard to keep the company functioning.

The company has continued to make a good return in the financial market, with first-half earnings up again.
Ongoing price lockdown and price drop deals appear to be popular (by the way, I’m stoked about the new drop on the bulk HB nappies!)

Dave, all the best.

Do you have anything to add? Any messages for Mr Chambers? Do you think he’ll do well in his new role? Who would you like to see take over as MD?
Post your thoughts and comments below.

How Jones violated Countdown Suppliers

Since Mid February when Jones first spoke out against Countdown he has rabidly been attacking the chain on behalf of suppliers (whom have been relentlessly and mercilessly bullied, he claims) fishing enthusiasts (that fish dumping scandal) and potential problem gamblers (the odiously offensive introduction of lotto sales at some checkouts in 100 stores nationwide).

But now, in a shock announcement on Tuesday (which he may have leaked himself if you read between the lines of a paragraph of this article) he has announced he’s leaving and it has since been confirmed a position was offered to him by Foreign Minister Murray McCully, which he has accepted.
McCully categorically denies the position, which involves a Pacific Ambassadorial role, was created specifically for Jones. Instead be claims that Jones was simply the ‘top man on their list’ when they created the job.
However a great deal of New Zealanders are asking why this position wasn’t advertised in the mainstream job market or at least offered to several potentially suitable candidates and the due application process not followed.

Whatever way they spin it, the whole situation smells… well, fishy.

So how DID Jones violate suppliers, you ask?

Back when he first donned that shiny cloak and for the few weeks following he kept banging on about he was supporting the suppliers, he believed them, he’d seen evidence and was outraged, et cetera.
He demanded the Commerce Commission investigate (which they’d already begun doing before he first stepped up under parliamentary privilege) and even inferred that they were at best incompetent and at worst potentially corrupt.
He made himself out to be the crusader for marginalised and downtrodden suppliers – promising to stick it out, to keep breathing down the neck of the CC and to see the investigation out til its bitter end.

But here he is a couple of months down the track, hightailing it for greener pastures, which could potentially be to the tune of up to $250k a year – more than what he has been earning as an MP.

He’s left those suppliers in the lurch – showing that he didn’t really care an iota for them and their plight at all.
He’s handed the Mighty Torch Of Xenophobic Hate Against Australian Owned Supermarkets over to Clayton Cosgrove and without so much of a lingering backward glance or crocodile tear has abandoned the suppliers he had promised his undying loyalty and support to.

Effectively, Jones has used the suppliers’ concerns for his own political gain – to further his already established name as a maverick and a Rebel With Many Causes.
Not only has he used them, but he’s used fishermen, conservation and environmental enthusiasts, and people with known or potential struggles with gambling and their loved ones.

He’s done exactly what I predicted he’d do all along – bent us all over and given us a damn hard rogering.

Everyone he’s used must be feeling violated right now, especially those suppliers.

He’s made a fool of everyone but makes excuses about how he couldn’t give ‘100 percent’, he couldn’t work with the Greens, he wasn’t happy with how things were going in the Labour ranks, yadda yadda yadda…
But I believe that the real reason is that the people he’s blatantly and shamelessly used and manupulated have served their purpose, and now that he’s got a better offer they can all just sink or swim themselves in the pool of mess and controversy he’s created.

Don’t piss on our leg and tell us it’s raining, Jones.

Read more about Jones’ departure and the surrounding controversy via the following links:

Jones denies National involvement in resignation

John Key denies job offer ‘a shot at Labour’

“Crafty McCully” – Opinion piece by Patrick Gower

Countdown And Lotto In Bed Together… No Wait, Lotto Is The Victim… No, Wait…” Jones Dithers Over Lotto’s Culpability

It’s been rather quiet since Cosgrove extended an ‘invitation’ to Countdown to come before a select parliamentary committee to discuss that infamous letter.

Cue Jones’ turn to once again enter the spotlight – waving his shiny cloak of privilege so that it glitters and twinkles to maximum effect (or so he hopes).

Now his target is Lotto. The problem is, he can’t seem to decide whether the Lotteries Commission is Lex Luthor or Clark Kent in this tale of superheroes and villains.

First he talks about the “cosy relationship” between Countdown and Lotto, saying he wants the Lotteries Commission to front up and explain themselves, before changing tack and saying that Countdown has been bullying lotto as well, allegedly threatening to take the lotto outlets out of their stores completely.

Surely those against gambling and who feel that lotto at the checkouts is going to wildly exacerbate problem gambling issues (including Jones) would think that less lotto outlets would be a good thing?

But no.
Jones’ latest fantasy has been inspired by an email which he has apparently received outlining alleged arrangements between Lotto and Countdown, including claims that “hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid to both these entities in project payments..”
According to Jones Lotto execs are keeping mum on all this and more, including supposed bullying.

However there is one notable difference between Cosgrove and Jones in this instance. Cosgrove was careful to use the word ‘invite’ when trying to get Countdown to attend a meeting – so he didn’t look like a bully, perhaps?
Jones doesn’t beat around the bush. He demands that the Lotteries Commission be forced to front up and do some serious explaining.

He also claims that only Countdown has been ‘allowed’ to introduce the option of lotto purchases at the checkouts.
So does that mean other retailers have wanted to do this?
If so, why haven’t they?
And if they did, would they be subject to the same level of vitriol? Or are only foreign-owned businesses subject to these attacks?

Once again, that Cologne Eau de désespoir permeates the atmosphere.

…For Their next Trick, Labour ‘Invites’ Progessive To A Select Committee Meeting

Now that it has been revealed that the so called ‘menacing’ letter appears to be nothing of the sort, it would seem that Labour is trying to save face by ‘inviting’ Progessive Enterprises to attend a Parliamentary select committee meeting to discuss their request for a transcript of a previous meeting between the Commerce Commission and MPs – perhaps the very one where Cosgrove infamously demanded answers to which he wasn’t entitled.

Cosgrove said that he wrote to Dave Chambers, Managing Director of Countdown supermarkets, “asking him if he wanted to appear before the committee.”
National MPs disagreed with this suggestion but Cosgrove has elected to go a bit maverick, it would seem – he went head and sent the ‘invite’ anyway.

In his letter he said,

“I believe it is important that the view of your company is heard by the committee and as such I am more than prepared to move another motion inviting you to appear… If PEL [Progressive Enterprises Ltd] does not wish to appear, I would be grateful if you could outline the reason(s) why.”

 

Hmmm… to me this sounds less like an invite – which is presented as a volunatry choice without pressure to take any particular action – and more like an demand.

Progressive however is not falling for it.

A statement from Progressive yesterday suggested that it had no desire to be questioned by MPs.“We aren’t seeking an opportunity to appear before the committee,” a spokeswoman said in the statement.“We are simply seeking to understand what was said at a meeting to consider whether there were any views expressed or things said that we felt we needed to comment on.”

So, Cosgrove… who is being menacing now?

Jones is teaching you well.

 

 

 

Clayton Cosgrove Takes Another Leaf Out of The book Of Jones: Oh! Those Letters!

Those of you who watched The Nation’s segment over the weekend may recall that during Jones’ IV he made references to a letter which had supposedly been sent to the commerce Commission by Progressives’ lawyers, and that it had undertones of  ‘bullying’.
When Jones was challenged on this allegation you’ll recall that he was forced to admit he hadn’t actually seen this letter himself; but that it was ‘around’. He then told the host (Patrick Gower) that the news team should “find it themselves”. He challenged them to find it.

Today Clayton Cosgrove, who appears to be contending for the spot of Jone’s Loyal Sidekick (a political Boy Wonder, perhaps?)
announced in parliament that Progressives sent a ‘menacing’ letter (yes, that’s right – the mystery letter has been upgraded from a rating of ‘bullying’ to the new status of ‘menacing’!) asking questions about the progress of the Commerce Commission’s investigations into allegations against the supermarket giant of bullying, blackmail and demands for retrospective cash payments.

What I find the most remarkable about this allegation is that Dave chambers has already stated that Progressives has sent the Commerce Commission a letter asking for more information and is awaiting a reply, as is their right as a business who is under investigation.

Why on earth would Dave Chambers mention they had sent correspondence if it could in any way be interpreted as bullying, menacing, aggressive, or any other adjective with a negative connotation for that matter?
Note that the time of publishing on the article regarding Mr Chambers is Saturday at 5am – before The Nation’s segment aired and Jones bought up the mysterious letter for the first time during his IV.

David Farrar asked if it had become mindless bashing of Countdown. I agreed with him then, and am even more inclined to do so now that Cosgrove has begun worrying this particular bone.

So come on, Cosgrove and Jones – prove us skeptics wrong.

Mr Chambers has already confirmed Progressive has requested information – So stop cowering behind your shiny cloaks of privilege (the ancient rite to which you are entitled as parliamentarians, yadda yadda yadda…).  Release this letter like you eventually did with Jones’ letter regarding the initial allegations of bullying.
Mr Chambers has already confirmed Progressive has requested information.
Let the public decide.

I challenge you.

Lotto, Lawyers and LAPs: The Latest Issues In The Supermarket Saga

Tv3’s The Nation released a segment this weekend discussing fresh allegations of bullying from the Mad Butcher Chief Executive Michael Morton, who accused Progressives of having in the past sent the company ‘threatening letters’ from lawyers when Mad Butcher advertised using comparative pricing. In addition, he complained that when the jackpots on lotto draws go up he can lose up to 15 percent of normal weekend business.
There has also been mention in articles of the ongoing LAPs issue between local Councils and Foodstuffs/Progressives who have both been lodging appeals around the country.

First, let’s look at the issue of the lotto tickets.
The introduction of the ability to purchase your tickets at the checkout of some Countdown stores (100, according to the segment) received some criticism from the outset amid concerns it would encourage increased gambling and present more temptation to problem or potential problem gamblers. There was also the concern about young people being able to purchase tickets – Instant Kiwi scratch and win tickets currently being the only item restricted to buyers 18 and over.

Mr Morton claimed that on weekends where lotto’s jackpots had climbed significantly his stores regularly reported “up to 15%” loss of sales in some of their stores compared to regular weekends – he gave a real dollar value estimate of about “A couple of hundred thousand dollars”.
But Morton’s most interesting comment was yet to come – host Lisa Owen asked him if money was going “away from food and into gambling”. Mr Morton emphatically replied “yes.”

It is this response with which I really take issue. Who is Morton (Or Jones, or any individual or group) to assume that that extra money is ‘all’ going into gambling instead of food?
It has been quoted that there is ‘evidence’ people buy tickets over food on weekends where the jackpot is high.
But ‘evidence’ is not solid fact – and it certainly does not represent a majority.

The fact remains that The Mad Butcher currently does not supply lotto outlets in their stores – so it is expected, surely, that folks will do their shopping at a place where they can conveniently buy their lotto ticket as well?
And who said all these people are buying tickets over food? The audacity of Morton to infer that this is the case actually astounds me and I think it is very disrespectful to New Zealanders – his customers – to effectively throw his toys out of the cot and make this baseless accusation that because they aren’t spending money in his store they all must be spending that money on gambling instead.
The question is – where is his proof that this consistently happening?
Of course, he doesn’t have any. This man wants the patronage of New Zealanders – and yet he infers that we’re all gambling addicts.

Jones of course is no better – grasping at the lotto issue like a drowning man and saying that it is “taking kai out of the mouths of children.” Again – prove that all that spending on lotto tickets comes at the expense of grocery items. And speaking of Jones and lotto – did you know his partner works at Sky City – who we could consider a competitor to the lotteries commission? He spends most of his time these days at the Sky City Hotel.

It has long been a reality that a small percentage of people will purchase alcohol, cigarettes and drugs or gamble with their money at the expense of essentials such as food and bills.
But to place all this blame on the lotteries commission alone (and Countdown, let’s not forget That Big Australian Business) is both ridiculous and an obvious attempt at mud-slinging.

What about the other lotto outlets – both the ones which are part of an existing store and the ones which are stand alone kiosks?
You can find lotto outlets in gift shops, bookstores, convenience stores, and even dairies. Many malls have more than one outlet. Their signs are big, colourful and eye catching, designed to tempt folks to buy tickets. Most outlets now have video screens with bright, attractive advertisements and flashing symbols – not unlike the displays on pokie machines.

We were saturated by lotto outlets and their advertising long before you could by your ticket at some checkouts – so why the big song and dance now, and the suggestion that gambling and the temptation to gamble wasn’t that big a problem now, but suddenly is destined to spiral out of control just because you can get your ticket at the same time as you pay for your groceries?

Once you start regulating where and when lotto tickets can be sold you’re starting down a very slippery slope.
First you say they can’t be sold in “Aussie owned supermarkets” to quote Jones. If Progressive owned supermarkets can’t sell tickets, why should Foodstuffs supermarkets be able to? If you can no longer buy lotto tickets in or around a supermarket, why should convenience stores, dairies, gift shops, book stores etc be given continued license to operate?
What about the flashy posters and display screens? Do they go – a nod to plain packaging? Will stand alone kiosks still be able to remain in the middle of a mall or will they need to be concealed in a spot out of the way of foot traffic?
They are opening a big old can of worms and that is just one part of the issue

Jones and Morton should both go easy on that Eau De Desperation cologne – it’s rather stinky.

 

On to the lawyers – Morton alleged that on several occasions Progressive’s legal team has sent his company letters when they have undertaken comparative pricing advertising. He used big dramatic phrases like “We get smashed with lawyers’ letters, they come down like a sledgehammer with lawyers’ letters”.
When he talks about these allegations of bullying though, like Jones he doesn’t actually have any solid evidence. He says that it’s his ‘belief’.
He has gotten involved with the Commerce Commission’s investigation and claims he’s talked to suppliers who have told him that “pressure is put on them” although he doesn’t choose to elaborate on this.

What was the most interesting about his issue with these alleged letters is that the Mad Butcher is itself guilty of false advertising. Ms Owen bought this incident up in the IV, saying, “..you have both been hauled up by advertising standards…for misleading advertising, you’ve both got in hot water over it.. you’re equally as bad, aren’t you?”
Morton dodged this question, going off on a bit of a tangent about how they’ve always used comparative pricing to show they offer better deals and accusing the ASA of not giving them clear information and changing the rules constantly.

The incident to which Ms Owen was referring occurred late last year, where Mad Butcher claimed that “Jo from Onehunga” did a comparative shop between Countdown and The Mad Butcher, saving almost $30 by shopping at the latter store. Countdown lodged a complaint following this advertising on the grounds that it was not representative of the actual availability of all products.
The investigation revealed that “Jo” had not actually purchased any items from Countdown; several of the items she bought from the MB were not available in Countdown or were not of the same quality; and Countdown did not offer 1 kilo packs of the type sold by the Mad Butcher. This complaint was upheld as likely to deceive and be be misleading to consumers.

Jones jumped on the lawyers bandwagon too – claiming that the Commerce Commission’s select committee has received ‘threatening letters’ from Progressive’s legal team. When asked for further information and evidence in regards to the existence of the purported threatening correspondence, Jones gave the ambiguous reply that it was ‘around’ followed by what I thought was a rather petulant suggestion that Patrick Gower and his team “look for it themselves”. When pressed he continued to bumble and fumble his way through the topic.

There is one all-important similarity between Jones and Morton – when asked if they can prove their various allegations and assumptions, both answer “No.”

 

So what about the LAPs issue?

The Nation also interviewed Lawrence Yule, who is Mayor of Hastings and also the president of Local Government New Zealand.
The discussion and debate around the right of liquor outlets and supermarkets to appeal local council alcohol policies has been ongoing. Regular readers will know I’ve addressed this topic in previous blog topics – in particular how the focus seems to be solely on Countdown’s appeals while ignoring or minimising appeals by Foodstuffs and local liquor outlets. Let’s not forget that Foodstuffs owns bottle store giants Liquor Land and Henrys so they have a definite personal interest in appealing the LAPs to benefit them.

Mr Yule revealed that of the 18 LAPs currently available for review, there are a total of about 60 appeals coming from both supermarket chains as well as local bottle stores.
The issue with Progressive’s appeals appears to be that they want to extend their licensing hours – up to 11pm in some areas, despite the facts many supermarkets still close at 9pm. Some stores which currently open at 9am are wanting to open as early as 7am.
In Napier/Hastings the local councils agreed to allow supermarkets to open as early as 7am while retaining the original closing time of 9pm. In other areas discussions are still taking place and possible outcomes have not yet been indicated.

Should there be rules around the way appeals can be lodged? Well, possibly. But like regulating and controlling lotto outlets, regulating appeals processes starts a slippery slope.

Most council policies are submitted for public review and residents and businesses have the right to submit their views for or against the policy including suggestions, criticisms and appeals for change. If we start making rules for who can make submissions, or what kind of submissions they can make we risk taking away people’s basic right to have their say.
If businesses can’t appeal a draft policy, what happens to operations in that area? Businesses could become hostages to the local council’s opinions which could be biased or be influenced by a conflict of interest or ulterior motive.
The same could be said for issues or plans that involve residents – building  new structure or demolishing one, for example. Ratepayers wouldn’t have a say in where their rates are spent. Families or residents living nearby to the proposed site wouldn’t be able to appeal against any disruptions  – such as construction or demolition – they felt may negatively affect them.

Should supermarkets and bottle stores have the right to appeal LAPs? I think so. Is aggression and persistence the way to get what they want? Perhaps not the ideal method, but it would be a typical business move – appeals against LAPs by supermarkets and bottle stores is nothing new. Should both parties negotiate firmly but fairly? Absolutely.

 

References:

ASA upholds complaint against Mad Butcher

Michael Morton and Lawrence Yule IV with transcript

Shane Jones IV with transcript

Whale Oil: Jones’ conflict of interest

The Tradition of Targeting Tiny Tim: A Timeline of Foodstuffs’ Questionable Practices

The focus over the last two months has been entirely on Progressive Enterprises and their parent company Woolworths in Australia.

It began with a change in what products Woolworths stocked in their stores, and the latest issue was over a Hepatitis A scare which affected both Progressives and Foodstuffs stores.

We have seen accusations of a blanket ban on all NZ products in Australia’s Woolworths supermarkets and cries of an “anti Kiwi” attitude, together with demands for ‘fair play’.

Next on the scene was Shane Jones, The Avenger: going to bat on behalf of suppliers who claimed they were being bullied and taken advantage of. He used inflammatory words like “Mafioso tactics” and “Dingo dealings” and was widely criticised for comparing Countdown to the Mob. Although the Commerce Commission had already been looking into these claims Jones’ attack forced the issue into the public spotlight and the CC confirmed a formal investigation would be undertaken.

As if that wasn’t enough, there have since been reports of LAPs being challenged, whole fish being disposed of at a waste processing plant to be turned into fertilizer and pet foods; and a recent Hepatitis A scare – although it has been confirmed that Foodstuffs has also been involved in both the challenging of LAPs and the Hep A issue.

With all this negativity focusing on Countdown and Progressive, no one seems to be looking very hard at Foodstuffs and their history. The NZ owned half of the supermarket duopoly has certainly been working overtime to win the hearts and minds of Kiwis and stay under the radar at the same time.

So what has Foodstuffs been up to in the last few years?

You may have read my previous topic regarding the fate of small business owner Keun Mook Yook, who faces being unceremoniously and forcibly ejected from the shopping centre where he has run Willy’s Dairy for the last 13 years, due to foodstuffs buying the land to rebuild their earthquake-damaged Halswell store. They have refused to lease him a space on the land, leaving him with nowhere to go and without the means to begin again elsewhere.

What follows is a brief timeline of Foodstuffs’ less than friendly – and often questionable – tactics and actions over the last five years.

2009:

 

  • 120 workers at a Christchurch distribution centre are suspended after two one-hour strikes over pay conditions. The National Distribution Union criticised this action strongly and confirmed they were taking action over the incident, which they claimed was illegal and a heavy over-reaction to the workers’ action.

2010:

  • In October Foodstuffs was ordered to pay back wages owed to the 120 workers involved in two one-hour strikes over pay conditions. The affected workers were denied 3 days’ pay in retaliation for their involvement in the move.
  • Also in October, a small business owner in Dunedin, Masaud (no last name given) who at the time had recently opened an independent grocery store, claimed he was visited several times by high level representatives of local and South Island branches of New World.The representatives, he said, demanded to know who his suppliers were and then pressured these suppliers if they were also supplying to New World stores.
    Masuad claimed that following these tactics by New World representatives some of his suppliers had asked him to ‘keep a low profile’, and one had even temporarily halted supply to his store. He said that representatives had also scrutinised his prices which were less than what the supermarkets were charging.

    Foodstuffs General Manager Alan Malcomson denied knowledge of the visits but admitted it could have happened. He denied Musad’s allegations that his suppliers had been pressured by New World representatives.

2012:

  • Early September:Foodstuffs announces a plan to force suppliers in the Wellington region to pay a 3% ‘promotional rebate’ levy.

    The levy’s purpose is to cover the cost of advertising and marketing both in-store and through other sources such as mailers, Foodstuffs says. It is to include funding for their ‘own-brand’ labels Pams and Budget.

    Suppliers report feeling helpless. They are angry and unhappy but feel like they cannot have a fair say, lest they are penalised by the supermarket giant by having their products removed from shelves or contracts suspended.

    Sue Kedgley is outraged, and again calls for the government to investigate and consider
    implementing a code of conduct to protect suppliers and prevent large chains forcing tactics such as additional levies on them.

 

  • Late September:Foodstuffs are forced to back down over the proposed 3% ‘promotional rebate’ levy aimed at suppliers after numerous complaints.

    Suppliers felt that Foodstuffs was attempting to engage in a ‘profits grab’ and feared that if the levy were imposed, supermarket rival Progressive Enterprises might follow suit with a similar scheme. Bowing to pressure, Foodstuffs announced that they would not be going ahead with the move, citing a need to ‘negotiate more’ with suppliers.

    The food and Grocery Council said it was disappointed with Foodstuffs’ levy plan, with Chief Executive Katherine Rich saying that such a levy was too costly for most suppliers, who were already under financial pressure and could not afford the additional expense the levy would bring.

 

2013:

 

  • April:After the government narrowly passed the youth wages law a range of companies including Progressive Enterprises, McDonalds, Bunnings, The warehouse, Kmart and Restaurant Brands announced it would continue paying youths the same minimum wage rate as adults.

    Foodstuffs however were the singular exception, choosing to adopt the ‘starting out’ youth wage scheme which would see young persons between 16-19 paid only $11 an hour, or 80% of the adult minimum wage rate, currently $13.75.

    First Union retail secretary Maxine Gray accused foodstuffs of adopting the youth rate scheme for monetary gain – saying they were aiming to use the law to ‘get away with paying youth workers less’.

    Foodstuffs’ starting rate for front line employees is set at the minimum wage.
    Progressive Enterprises pays a higher starting rate as well as a range of benefits including a 5% employee discount, health insurance and opportunities for training and development.

 

  • September:
    It is reported that a shopping centre up for sale in Orewa (located on the Hibiscus coast North of Auckland) has had a tender put in by Foodstuffs, with plans to build a New World supermarket on the site – which would require existing shops in the complex to be demolished if the sale goes ahead. 

    Exact dates for the proposed changes were not available at the time but shop owners feared losing their businesses.One retailer, CM Bakery owner Ty Lim, said his landlord had advised him to start looking for new premises and that he could exit his lease early without penalty.at the time the article was published, business owners were told they would receive letters in a month’s time which would provide more information and certainty around the matter.

2014:

  • February:Plans to merge North Island Foodstuffs stores, which began in September 2013, have workers and locals worried that communities and families will suffer as jobs are moved up to Auckland, leaving previously employed workers facing a move or unemployment as the sector is restructured.

    Initially Foodstuffs reassured employees and communities that redundancies would be minimal. But Wayne Guppy, who is the Mayor for Upper Hutt, claims that the community has been misled by Foodstuffs and described the action as a ‘hostile takeover’.When the merger began, the operations base at Silverstream employed over 300 staff. However as the merger had progressed all but one of the eight management jobs previously held in the Wellington area had been moved up to Auckland. In total there had been 28 redundancies.

    Upper Hutt had previously been the Lower North Island headquarters for Foodstuffs. It is expected many more jobs in Wellington will be lost over the next 18 months as the merger continues. Affected staff are being told new roles are being offered in Auckland and they have the opportunity to relocate in order to carry on with the company. This in turn potentially affects Wellington as staff either relocate or are made redundant and are forced to look for work elsewhere in the region.

 

  • March: 

    Christchurch small business owner Keun Mook Yook is facing eviction from his shop of 13 years, following the purchase by Foodstuffs of the shopping centre where his dairy is located. The existing shops will be demolished to make way for the planned rebuild of the Halswell New World, which was damaged in the earthquakes.

 

Foodstuffs also own a range of liquor outlets.

As well as selling beer, wine and cider in their supermarkets, Foodstuffs also owns and operates the Liquor Land (and Henry’s in the South Island) bottle stores which can be found throughout the country.

DB Breweries previously owned the Liquor Land brand, but sold it to Foodstuffs in 2008.
With over 70 Liquor Land stores and 18 Henry’s stores, Foodstuffs owns one of New Zealand’s largest and most powerful players in the alcohol industry.

Foodstuffs have not made information regarding the earnings brought in by their many liquor outlets available to the public.

Are Foodstuffs really caring and benign – or re they just as cut-throat s any other large business?
The evidence certainly suggests the latter.

Related Links:

Bullying of workers

Foodstuffs ordered to pay back wages

Small business owner bullied

Plans for levy revealed

Forced backdown over levy

Youth wages

Proposed Orewa sale

Upper hutt ‘misled’ over merger plans

Foodstuffs forces Willy out

 

 

 

 

 

Are Foodstuffs Taking Over In The Bullying Department? Christchurch Dairy Owner Being Forced Out By New world

In the last two months Foodstuffs – under their “proudly 100% owned and operated” supermarket chains Pak’n’Save and New World – have been milking the backlash against Countdown with ramped up advertising.

Pak’n’Save in particular, already known for their sometimes contrversial advertising, have been taking jabs at Australia with ads like “Don’t worry Cheesy, it’s too hot for you in Australia anyway”  “Haere Mai, welcome home my tasty friends” (complete with several food items exiting a plane) and “What next? Aussie supermarkets ban the word ‘bro’?”

But instead of Pak’n’Save, New world stands to be in the firing line.

Christchurch small business owner Keun Mook Yook, known as Willy, has owned and operated Willy’s Dairy in the suburb of Halswell for 13 years. His business is situated in a shopping centre which Foodstuffs has purchased with plans to rebuild the earthquake damaged Halswell branch of New World.
Far from willing to negotiate with him, Foodstuffs has several times sent him correspondence reminding him of the deadline – April 1st – by which he must hand over the keys to his store.
It also seems he is being discriminated against. While other business owners in the complex have been given container shops to work out of while the buildings in the shopping centre are demolished and the supermarket rebuilt, Mr Yook has been repeatedly denied space in the new complex.

Locals have signed a petition in support of Mr Yook’s dairy with over 2700 signatures so far.
Does Foodstuffs care? Not an iota.

Not only that, but they made a statement to The Press claiming they are helping him find alternative premises – a claim Mr Yook says is untrue. He states they have not offered any assistance at all.

Even local MPs Amy Adams and Megan Woods, and City Councillor Jimmy Chen, have written to foodstuffs pleading with them to give Willy’s Dairy respite and allow it to remain.
Still they refuse. Their excuse?
“New World will fill the void.”

With the high prices of rentals and the competition for these spaces in Christchurch Mr Yook simply cannot afford to rent a new space elsewhere. He has “no idea” what he will do after he is forced to leave. He plans to close his doors on March 25 to begin the huge task of clearing the shop.

You can read about Mr Yook’s plight here and the first article featured in local newspaper The Press can be read here.

Who is the bully business now?

Foodstuffs, you’re getting too cocky. Let’s not forget some of those complaints to the commerce Commission have been about other big retailers. Don’t get ahead of yourselves – you could be next.

Especially when you start picking on the little guy.

The Big Anti-Climax: Initial Findings by The Commerce Commission Revealed

In mid February Shane Jones made allegations against Countdown of bullying, extortion and blackmail.
He inferred that “many” suppliers had complained about how they were treated but were afraid to come forward lest they be blacklisted, harassed or otherwise given an even rougher deal than they apparently already had.

Fast forward a month.

Yesterday the Commerce Commission’s chief executive Brent Alderton and his team were summoned to a select committee meeting in parliament where they were interrogated by Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove, who demanded answers.
Had they found evidence of bullying? How many suppliers have complained and what did these complaints entail? Who were the complainants? And what DID they do with that email demanding a $2 million retrospective payment?

Cosgrove must have liked the way Jones’ cloak of Parliamentary Privilege shone and sparkled in the artificial lighting of the house – because he seems to have gone ahead and designed himself a similar garment.

The way Cosgrove went about handling this meeting echoes in many ways how Jones approached the initial allegations – like a bull in a china shop, Jones and Cosgrove both charged about willy-nilly, crashing into things and making one hell of a mess.

Cosgrove does not seem to realise his demands for information at this stage were out of line as the investigation is still ongoing – but perhaps he does realise this. It would explain why he, again echoing Jones, refused to speak outside of the privilege of the select committee meeting or make public statements to the media.

First he wanted to know if the CC had confirmed the existence of the aforementioned email – and accused them of “making it go away” because Countdown had said it was a mistake.
So far, the existence of this email has NOT been confirmed and the allegation is still under investigation. It is also important to note that reports of the incident itself are sketchy – while Clayton accuses the CC of not following due process, this article infers that if a complaint WAS made it was withdrawn by the supplier.
Cosgrove also wanted to know how many suppliers had made official complaints, who they were, what the complaints were about and if they had been threatened with reprisals by Countdown if they were to come forward.  Again, this is really none of his business and it would not be appropriate to release the information to third parties while the investigation continues – but Mr Alderton was able to confirm that they had to date received less than 30 and not all of them were about Countdown.

There have been several articles published on this story which you can read about.
Two are in The Herald here and here (the second link of which mentions the “narrow majority” {51%} who believe Jones’ allegations are true while 20.4% believe Countdown – which leads us to assume that roughly 26% of respondents weren’t sure or wanted to adopt a ‘wait and see’ position).
Further reports can be found on the TV3 page talking about implementing a code and in this Newstalk ZB article regarding a lack of evidence about bullying.

The investigation is likely to take several more months but at this point the evidence is not looking promising for Jones in his war against That Australian Owned Company.
Not that it is likely to stop him. He, along with his trusty sidekick Cosgrove, is probably digging for more dirt as you read this.

Watch out Countdown – looks like Shane Jones now has a second in his fighting corner.

Blaming Countdown for the Hep A scare…? Proof that the Boycotters are grasping at straws.

When the announcement was made yesterday that some fruit packed at a Hawkes Bay plant was potentially contaminated with Hepatitis A the public were understandably worried.
The article warned that some apples sold at Progressives stores and peaches sold at Foodstuffs stores in the last few weeks were being recalled as a precautionary manner.

Of course, certain members of the boycott movement jumped all over this story like rabbits. They’ve been posting links to the story like it’s going out of fashion and insinuating Countdown is somehow to blame and even that they deliberately sold poisoned fruit.

From the Boycott Countdown page:
another reason to Boycott Countdown, turns out Countdown Supermarkets have been supplying Hepatitis A to customers now…”
“…and now Countdown Supermarkets are stocking fruit with Hepatitis A..”
Watch out for your Countdown apples and peaches: Hepatitis A warning..”

Countdown’s facebook page has of course been copping it too – aside from the idiotic boycott comments several people have even threatened to take legal action if they or their family members become ill.
I understand people are worried about the health of themselves and their families but this trend of shooting the messenger helps no one. Wht blame Countdown? Or Pak’n’Save for that matter – a range of stores in the North Island recalled a batch of peaches due to the risk of contamination.

Hepatitis A is a horrible illness and unfortunately there is nothing that can be done but to wait for it to pass.
The fact that it has a long incubation period and you can be infectious before showing any symptoms means it can spread very quickly without anyone being aware it has happened.

For this reason there is no point in blaming any of the supermarkets, or even the pack house worker who fell ill. He could have contracted the virus himself from a range of environments.
The media release also stated that due to the workers all wearing gloves the risk of contaminatin is in fact minimal and the recall is a precautionary manner – yet this information doesn’t seem to be well – known. Once again people are