Countdown supermarket workers gifted shares in the company

A security guard stands outside a Countdown supermarket during lockdown.
A security guard stands outside a Countdown supermarket during lockdown. Photo credit: Getty

Countdown staff across New Zealand have been given shares in the company as a way of recognising the role they played throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Woolworths Group, which owns Countdown, will award $10 million in shares to 14,000 Kiwis across its 183 stores. 

Each eligible full-time staffer will receive $808 in shares to reflect the effort they made throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

Managing Director Natalie Davis says the shares are a show of gratitude.

"Their passion and dedication to our customers, their care for their local communities and to each other over this very challenging time has been incredible, and we are immensely grateful," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

She says the company wanted it's employees to have a stake in the future of the business.

"As we look forward and work as a team together to help build a better tomorrow for our country, we want to recognise our team's role in that, and give them ownership of the huge part they play in creating it."

Countdown is one of the largest employers in the country providing 20,373 jobs across New Zealand.

During the lockdown, supermarkets were one of the only businesses allowed to remain open which meant it's workers became essential almost overnight.

All stores implemented and enforced strict regulations to keep shoppers and staff safe including limiting the number of people in store, and providing perspex screens for checkout operators.

Security guards were brought in to protect employees against angry shoppers and store hours were slashed. 

Davis says the shares are a reflection of the time and effort workers have put into adapting to the conditions.

"Our business has achieved amazing things in the last year - reducing our emissions, phasing out tonnes of single-use plastic, providing safe environments and affordable food for our customers.  But none of those achievements would be possible without our team."