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25 November 2020: Countdown is today celebrating last night’s NZ CIO awards, with Sally Copland, General Manager Brand and CountdownX, and currently Acting Managing Director, named New Zealand CIO of the Year.

Countdown’s dedicated digital team, CountdownX, was also recognised as a finalist in the Business Transformation through Digital and IT category for its initial COVID-19 response.

The NZ CIO Awards celebrate innovation and success in the ICT industry.  Sally Copland says the recognition is a boost for the whole Countdown team which has worked incredibly hard for customers throughout a challenging year.

“Countdown was privileged to be one of the few businesses in Aotearoa which was able to operate right through COVID-19 lockdowns.  That privilege came with an immense amount of responsibility and pressure, and I am extremely proud of how all of our team members worked together and rose to the challenge,” says Sally Copland.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this award and so proud to see the CountdownX team recognised for their work to rapidly scale existing services, develop new technology, and respond at an unbelievable pace to an almost overwhelming influx of customers.”

When New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown on 15 March, the Countdown team was already hard at work after weeks of panic buying and unparalleled demand for contactless delivery.

“We’d been preparing for a lockdown situation and were monitoring the response internationally to get plans in place, but at the same time we were also dealing with unprecedented times, so sticking to plans isn’t always an option,” says Sally Copland.

Countdown’s online virtual assistant Olive, launched in late 2019, is an indicator of the pressure the team was under. Almost overnight, conversations with Olive jumped from 3000 a month to 20,000 a day.

Throughout March and April, Countdown increased its online grocery delivery capacity by 60 per cent, designed and implemented its priority assistance service in five days to support more than 120,000 vulnerable Kiwis, registered more than 200,000 new online customers, opened New Zealand’s first dedicated supermarket e-store, temporarily converted five stores into ‘dark stores’ to service online demand and, in less than a week, developed and piloted an e-queue system in-house.

“It’s incredible to look back on what the team has achieved this year, not only during lockdown but in getting back to business as usual and continuing to innovate for our customers however they choose to shop with us,” says Copland.

“The transformation our digital team went through in those trying times has taught us how much we can achieve when we get a great mix of team members and technology in the room, and this accelerated development will continue to serve our customers for years to come.”

About Countdown

Countdown is one of New Zealand’s largest employers with 20,000 team members across 183 supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices. We serve around 3 million customers every week and work with thousands of food producers and suppliers throughout New Zealand. We’re committed to being part of the communities we live and work in: some of our activities include Countdown Food Rescue which donates more than $5.2 million of food each year to The Salvation Army and other food rescue groups and foodbanks. Through the Countdown Food for Good Foundation we also provide local funding and sponsorship to help Kiwis thrive by building a stronger, healthier New Zealand for the future.