Woolworths awards shares to more than 100,000 employees

Woolworths Group is recognising its employees for their efforts during a year of unprecedented challenges by making them part-owners of the company.

The retail giant is awarding each eligible full-time team member within the group up to $750 of Woolworths Group shares to keep or sell in the future. Part-time eligible team members will be allocated shares on a pro-rata basis.

More than 100,000 team members across the Woolworths, Countdown, Big W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, CellarMasters and Langton’s businesses are eligible for shares, giving Woolworths Group the largest number of shareholder team members in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Eligible team members are those who were employed in the company prior to 1 March 2020 and who do not already participate in the group’s short-term incentive schemes.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the board and group leadership could think of no better way to thank and recognise the team for their efforts over the past five months than by making them shareholders in the group.

“From protests in Hong Kong, droughts and bushfires in Australia to the devastating volcanic activity in New Zealand and finally COVID-19, we have pulled together as a team to support each other, our customers and the communities in which we live and operate,” Banducci said in a statement.

“This has taken an enormous amount of hard work and dedication and through our collective commitment we have indeed lived our purpose of creating better experiences together for a better tomorrow.”

Banducci added that team members will play a critical role going forward as the company adjusts to the new normal.

“I’d like to thank our team once again for their continued support during these extraordinary times,” he said.

Woolworths Group will also give all Australian full-time and part-time team members who were employed prior to 1 March 2020 and who do not participate in the Group’s STI $250 in Team Member PlusCard credits. Australian casual team members employed prior to 1 March 2020 will receive $100.

The PlusCards will be available to spend like a gift card in Woolworths Supermarkets, Metro, BIG W and BWS stores.

Casual team members in Australia who joined the group on or after 1 March 2020 to assist in helping the group navigate the COVID-19 demand surge will be able to keep their team discount until the end of December of this year, irrespective of whether they stay with the group or not.

In March, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) called for an essential service payment to be made to Woolworths members to recognise their hard work at the height of supermarket stockpiling.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer welcomed the move by Woolworths.

“This recognition payment was won by SDA union members who supported our calls for extra pay for essential workers. We applaud their efforts,” he said in a statement.

Paper bags rolled out at Woolworths supermarkets nationwide

On Wednesday, the supermarket giant announced the roll out of brown paper bags for purchase at stores nationwide.

The bags are made from 70 per cent recycled paper and are available at a cost of 20 cents.

A selection of Woolworths stores began trialing the bags last year. The retailer is extending the initiative to meet consumer demand for recyclable alternatives.

“For some time, customers have told us they’d like the option of a strong paper bag option, so we’re pleased to now offer that choice at our checkouts, alongside our existing reusable plastic bags,” Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said in a statement.

“These paper bags resonated really well with customers when we trialled them in 20 stores last year and we expect to see a positive response from the customers who’ve been asking for this option nationwide.”

The retailer intends to extend the option of paper bags to its online operations.

Additional reporting by Ruth Hogan.

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