Foodstuffs appears set to cut staff numbers at its
Dunedin distribution centre ahead of the opening of a new $45
million centre in Christchurch next year.
Foodstuffs South Island chief executive Steve Anderson said
when contacted the opening of the new centre in Hornby meant
its Dunedin facility would become ''more of a regional
distribution centre'', which stocked a reduced range of
He initially said ''there would be a reduction [of] staff in
Dunedin'', but when contacted later said a decision was yet
''What I meant to say is, we haven't done that work yet, and
if there is staff cuts we will try and do it through
attrition rather than redundancies,'' Mr Anderson said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the prospect of job losses was
disappointing and surprising, given the supermarket chains'
reliance on Christchurch resulted in them running out of
stock during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
A union representative said about 150 people worked at the
Dunedin distribution centre.
Mr Anderson said the Dunedin distribution centre would remain
important to the company.
Its significance was highlighted by the Christchurch
earthquakes, when its activity was increased to meet the lost
capacity, he said.
He did not know how many jobs could be cut, saying that would
be looked at closer to the opening of the new Christchurch
facility, which is expected to be midway through next year.
First Union South Island regional secretary Paul Watson said
the new centre in Christchurch made job cuts appear to be
''Dunedin can ill afford more job losses, but unfortunately
the strategic commercial decision made some time ago by the
Foodstuffs board of directors ... has inevitably set in train
a seemingly unavoidable reduction in staff numbers at the
Dunedin [distribution centre] at some point in 2014,'' Mr
Mr Cull said apart from being disappointed about the prospect
of job cuts, he was ''surprised'' by the move given what
happened during the Christchurch earthquakes.
''Because distribution centres were concentrated in
Christchurch, the supermarkets around the South Island ran
out of products for quite some time.''
''One of the messages from the Christchurch earthquakes is
that you need distributed capacity,'' Mr Cull said.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said
the news was part of a ''disturbing trend'' of businesses
moving away from regional centres to either Auckland or
The trend created problems by stretching infrastructure
capacity in the major centres, where there was less room for
growth, while infrastructure in Dunedin and other regional
centres was under-utilised.
The increasing dependence on Christchurch was also concerning
when it came to the risk of Dunedin running out of products
in the event of natural disasters.
Foodstuffs supplies Pak'n Save, New World and Four Square