Woolies sending help to flood-affected Townsville

Ross Greenwood speaks to Wooloworths CEO Brad Banducci as
A barge with 300 tonnes of food, nappies, baby formula and other essentials items has been sent in my Woolies to Townsville as the clean-up from the floods begins

Interview with: Brad Banducci, CEO, Woolworths

Ross Greenwood: On another subject, this is again big organizations in this case doing the right thing. As you’re aware, Townsville has been inundated with those floodwaters that really has hurt people. Both Woolworths and Coles themselves have chipped in here. They’ve both sent in truckloads, even planeloads, of groceries to try and help people out and to refill their shelves in the Woolworths and Coles stores around Townsville. In the meantime, the Salvation Army and Woolworths have launched an emergency appeal to help the Townsville community. The chief executive of Woolworths, Brad Banducci, has been in Townsville in the past couple of days. He’s on the line right now. Brad, many thanks for your time. Just explain what you saw. Were you shocked by what you saw there?

Brad Banducci:Thank you. Very nice to be on the phone, Ross. Yes I was. I will say only 10 weeks ago, so it was a marked difference to then. Really gone from a very dry arid area to be very wet and swamp like in a number of cases. It is a major issue.

Ross Greenwood: In this term, I presume that you are not only putting money in for the relief effort because people actually just need the food, need the infant formula, need the disposable nappies, whatever they might be just to get them through, but then clearly the broader community is actually going to need your supermarkets back up and running so they can get the fresh food because in many cases, of course, the electricity would have gone out on freezers, food would have rotted. They’re going to be in a predicament until they can get themselves restocked.

Brad Banducci:Absolutely. We’ve got 13 supermarkets in Townsville. Only one is not operational at the moment and won’t be for at least another 45 weeks. Completely flooded in Fairfield, which is where a lot of the impact has been been felt both in our stores but of course more importantly with the people who live there.

Ross Greenwood: Just a quick one, Brad. With that Brad, if you’ve got a supermarket that’s been completely flooded, everything all the stock there, you’ve just basically got to throw that away, don’t you? It’d be almost impossible to keep in you that stock.

Brad Banducci:Absolutely. What we did, as a number of other stores we had electricity problems during the loss that’s been going on, as you know, Ross, for eight days, we’ve gifted the food away so to make sure that we didn’t throw away what we didn’t need to throw away. In the case of Fairfield, unfortunately, everything had to be turned away and we’re in the process of doing that. Will have that done by lunchtime tomorrow and it’s heartbreaking.

Ross Greenwood: The other point then is you’ve got to get back in and restock it for the residents so they can come in themselves shop and replace what they have lost in the fridge. I haven’t stopped and thought about this, but the amount of food waste that comes as a result of a natural disaster such as this in an otherwise warm climate it really is quite horrendous.

Brad Banducci:It is, but actually I think everyone has responded magnificently up there. It does really bring out the best in humanity. I’ve been a real team effort. The shops on a full day are stockyards, but about 80% of what you would expect to find in store is there. Actually the fresh food just haven’t walked the stores is looking good. We’re actually in a good place, but it’s only thanks to the collective efforts everyone has been a case of cause trains, automobiles, and even the barge. Real team effort, good food in stock; real worries though of what lies ahead, more rain predicted, so we’re not out of the woods there by a long stretch.

Ross Greenwood: There you go. As I say is there the logistics at some times a chief executive has to deal with this. It is another one small one for you, Brad, while online. We just heard in our news a little while ago that Cadbury’s is going to cut the size of its 200-gram block of chocolate back to 180 grams. Can you have a quiet chat to them as a stock cost of that particular product. My callers and emails are outraged you going to do this with what they say is only a marginal cut in the price. Can you have a quiet chat to Cadbury’s and see if you can actually look after this for the citizens of Australia?

Brad Banducci:Well, how could I not say that I would?

Ross Greenwood: Very good.

Brad Banducci:I hadn’t heard it. Been travelling, but thank you for letting me know.

Ross Greenwood: Don’t worry, Brad Banducci, you’ll be on the chocolate trail very shortly. On behalf of the Money News listeners, we appreciate your time on the programme this evening.

Brad Banducci:My pleasure.

Image source: 2GB

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