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The not so fresh food people

Woolworths Supermarket AustraliaMost would agree that it is better to keep existing loyal customers rather than seek new ones. Doing both at the same time is great, but the emphasis should always be on not losing your loyal customers.

Brad Banducci, the new CEO at Woolworths, clearly has his work cut out for him. But on the positive side, he can only improve matters. Let’s not even think that things could get worse.

Although critical about Woolies for some time now, I have remained loyal to Woolworths (and Aldi) for a number of years as a customer.

Brad, I feel dreadful to abandon you in your hour of need, but after all these years, I am moving to Coles.

My bank manager once told me, “never change your bank for your lawyer or your doctor”. That has resonated with me for many years and although loyalty is a rare commodity these days, I am old fashioned. So it has to be serious for me to forsake a trusted retailer.

Apart from all else, one gets used to the layout of a supermarket, and to change this creates a new learning curve. At present, I can zip around almost any branch of Woolies in record time.

So what led to the defection? Very simply, the ‘fresh’ produce is no longer as fresh.

This is not a one-off observation. For months, if not years, now, I have had to turf stuff I have bought – not just ones or twos, but sometimes the lot. Often it’s avocado pears and oranges, but it’s also been other vegetables and fruit as well.

Yes – any one of us may find the very same thying at Coles, but it is time to give them a go. I guess one could always take the spoilt goods back for a refund, but who wants to bother? It is off-putting to have to store the goods until your next visit and it is off-putting to have to take rotten fruit and vegetables into a store for a refund for what is often a trivial amount. The nuisance value is that when you want that lovely avo and you cut it open, and the next one, and the next one, you are irritated in the extreme to find them all off.

The bottom line is that if you advertise that you are the “fresh food people,” you had better be just that.

Incidentally, on only one occasion has Aldi been wanting in this area. I didn’t buy the goods myself, but there was one shocking example of rotting fruit in a display bin. I called a member of staff and suggested that they should act swiftly, which they did. A ‘one off’ incident can be forgiven, but repeated offenders run the risk of customers jumping ship as I have done.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at or 0414 631 702.

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