Defibrillator replacement 'seamless' - Bunnings

  • 30/03/2016
(AAP file)
(AAP file)

Bunnings says it will make sure there is a "seamless transition" between removing defibrillators from its stores and buying new ones.

The company announced on Wednesday it was donating its three existing defibrillators to community groups, but would be purchasing five new ones.

It faced a backlash from staff over allegations it was removing defibrillators because it did not want to pay for maintenance.

Units are currently installed in Gisborne, Nelson and Dunedin -- with the Dunedin one bought by the staff social club after a colleague died from a heart condition.

Those units will be replaced, and two other stores are being chosen to have units installed.

Bunnings general manager Jacqui Coombes says the company was choosing to honour its commitment to community groups by donating units.

She did not comment on why the company had chosen to remove its existing defibrillators or whether the incident had damaged Bunnings' reputation.

First Union, who represent Bunnings workers, welcomed the decision, calling it a "back down" by the company.

Workers were "heartbroken" when the company removed staff-owned defibrillators, said spokeswoman Maxine Gay.

"Bunnings' decision to remove defibrillators they didn't own and didn't pay to maintain never made any sense."

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, Bunnings said units were never confiscated from stores and First Union had never raised the issue as a concern.

While it had been criticised for not responding sooner, it wanted to make sure it was clear on its position and make an "honest informed response", the company said.

The company is reviewing its current approach to providing defibrillators in stores, in response to community feedback.

Ms Coombes said the health and safety of Bunnings team members and customers was very important to the company and it would ensure a seamless transition in the replacement process.