Dunedin supermarket reopens after rat problem

A rat-plagued Dunedin supermarket is again open for business. 

After a closure of 18 days and a botched reopening, Countdown Dunedin South at 323 Andersons Bay Rd began trading at 8am today, owner Woolworths New Zealand confirmed. 

The supermarket came to attention in January after staff alleged a lack of action on a rat infestation at the store.

The company subsequently confirmed a photo of a rat in the deli section supplied to the Otago Daily Times was taken at the supermarket in late November. 

Customers arrive at Countdown South Dunedin shortly after it reopened at 8am today. PHOTO: GERARD...
Customers arrive at Countdown South Dunedin shortly after it reopened at 8am today. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Director of stores Jason Stockill said this morning they were confident the rat infestation had been addressed.

‘‘We are very pleased to be able to welcome our customers back to Countdown Dunedin South from 8am today.

‘‘We’d like to thank them for their patience as we've navigated the past couple of weeks.

‘‘We, along with MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) and Rentokil, are confident the situation has been addressed and while it took longer than anyone wanted, we are happy to have the store open again and our team are excited to be back serving our local community.

‘‘We’d also like to thank our Dunedin South and wider Dunedin team for their support, patience and hard work.’’

The store had been closed for 18 days due to rat infestation. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The store had been closed for 18 days due to rat infestation. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN

Employees were seen chatting with customers this morning and offering free chocolates to returning customers.

The supermarket appeared exceptionally clean, with only the bakery section having a few empty shelves.

Jonathan Sherriff said it was good to return to his local store, and he had no reservations due to the prior rat problems.

“It’s just a process they’ve got to get through, just a matter of time... I could walk these aisles in my sleep, so it’s good to get back.”

He said he had noticed the store to be very clean and the employees extra friendly, and he also received a free bag of chocolates.

“They’re obviously trying to get people back in, which is really nice.”

Roberto Ghidella said he was also happy to return as the store was the larger one in his local area.

He said he was not concerned about the closures and trusted the store to ensure its cleanliness upon reopening.

“It’s probably cleaner now than it ever was before.”

Fiona Simpson, of Dunedin, this morning said it was really clean, friendly and pleasant.

“Lots of the other supermarkets just have heaps of people and are just packed. Here the shelves were really well stocked and they were giving out chocolates, it was really chill,” she said.

Another shopper, who did not want to be named, said the supermarket was her local and she was happy the employees were able to return to work.

'Clear-air period' reached

On February 9, the retailer announced the store would close to step up pest control efforts.

Since then, at least one rodent had either been caught or seen every two days.

A total of 24 rats have been caught to date, the latest on Thursday last week.

The store was initially poised to open last Sunday, but a lone rat spotted on a security camera unravelled that plan. 

A Woolworths New Zealand spokeswoman said yesterday there had been no further sightings or capture of rodents on Monday night in the store, following none on Sunday night.

This meant a 48-hour "clear air period" had been reached, allowing the store to reopen. 


 - additional reporting NZ Herald