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Countdown nabs Woolies exec, plans $54m meat plant

Countdown Waiheke

Supermarket giant Countdown has announced the appointment of Scott Davidson, a senior retail executive with more than 20 years experience as its new general manager for Merchandise.

Davidson joins Countdown from his current role as head of produce for Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket operator. He leads a Woolworths team of 120 people and is responsible for buying, operations and quality.

Countdown managing director Dave Chambers said appointing an experienced and skilled general manager is a positive for both customers and the Countdown team.

“Scott is a diverse and well-rounded retail executive and a welcome addition to our leadership team,” he said.

“He has proven merchandise management expertise with an emphasis on strategic planning, brand development and global sourcing. He’s described by many as a visionary leader who values partnering with suppliers to create sustainable outcomes and great results.”

Scott has been in his current role with Woolworths since December 2013 and was previously Merchandise manager – Packaged and International Foods. He has also managed a wide range of supermarket categories for Woolworths including drinks, private brands and pet needs.

“I’ve spent quite some time in New Zealand, and during this time I’ve been impressed with the teams open, innovative and customer centric thinking and I’m looking forward to supporting them to achieve their goals,” said Davidson who will start with Countdown towards the end of the year.

South Auckland investment

Meanwhile, Countdown has also announced it is partnering with global meat processing experts, Hilton Food Group, to set up a brand new, state-of-the-art meat processing plant in Otahuhu, Auckland.

The plant will open in 2020 and will replace Countdown’s existing meat processing facility next door, providing long term job security and employment for the company’s 300 meat plant team members.

The Hilton Food Group, established in England in 1994 and are international specialists in meat manufacturing, is planning to invest $54 million to set up a bespoke meat plant, which will supply Countdown exclusively.

 Chambers said last year Countdown sourced 100 per cent of its chicken, pork and lamb from local New Zealand farmers and 97 per cent of its beef. 

“This partnership with Hilton Food Group will enable us to best respond to increasing customer demand for more innovation and new product development, and continue our commitment to provide high quality, locally sourced meat at affordable prices for New Zealand families,” Chambers said.

“We have a history of innovation with initiatives like our recycled meat trays, and this partnership puts Countdown at the forefront of the meat industry by harnessing the latest technology in meat processing,” he said.

“The new plant increases our capacity, particularly to meet seasonal demands like Christmas. It will also mean more flexibility in packaging and options around portion sizes which is important when you have a diverse range of customers whose needs are always changing.”

Chambers said the partnership is an investment in the long term future of meat processing in Otahuhu.

“Meat processing in this area is part of Auckland’s history; we have a large local team and maintaining that employment and connection to the community is really important to us,” he said.

Countdown’s existing meat plant team will transfer across to the new plant in 2020.

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