Woolworths survived lockdown with patient community

Woolworths-Manager,-Michael-Walsh

The local Woolworths store faced many challenges as did everyone through the recent COVID-lockdown, but it was the team and the locals that made it all okay.

Broken Hill Woolworths Manager Michael Walsh said it was challenging times but they had serving the community at the front of their minds.

“We had so many people off, but we were always mindful of the fact that we have over 100 team members here and I think that even if we were down to two team members, we’d find a way to service the community, that’s the most important thing for us,” he said.

“It was not only the Broken Hill area, but all those outlying areas; Wilcannia, Packsaddle, Tibooburra, all them and obviously the people of the stations, so a pretty big area… and that’s what motivates the team, who really stepped up to make sure we served everyone that we possibly could.”

Woolworth Broken Hill was named as an exposure site on a couple of occasions which subsequently affected the staff.

“You’ve got to do the right thing as directed which is to get tested and isolate,” said Mr Walsh.

“We’ve never had a team member with COVID, there were only a number of times that we were an exposure site here. The great thing is everyone tested negative, the hundreds of tests we’ve had, no one has ever tested positive.

Mr Walsh said due to close contacts isolating, many staff were not at work and so remaining staff had to multiskill.

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“A person that’s never done trolley’s before, a person that’s never done fruit and veg before, a person that’s never done deli before just jumped in wherever they’re needed and that’s all down to the team,” he said.

“I think there was one day there where we had 12 people. The registers on a couple of days where the lines were nine and ten deep but the customers and locals were great, everyone was being patient because they knew we didn’t have the team members… there was no negative feedback.”

Now that lockdown is over, Mr Walsh said they’re finally getting back to normal.

Online orders were “absolutely” in high demand throughout lockdown but were limited due to stock availability.

“We’re slowly coming back, our biggest challenge is that we haven’t been able to fully have online as much as we want, we’re slowly, gradually building towards that,” Mr Walsh said.

“The e-commerce side of the business… it’s the big growth area. Especially during COVID because people just don’t want to be out.”

“We had to dial that back because it was growing so well which was a challenge for us… there are only so many windows and so many spots for it.

“We’re starting to open that back up now to full capacity.”

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Mr Walsh said the community have always been and still are compliant with COVID related rules.

“You see a majority of people signing in, haven’t seen too many people without a mask on, and looking at vaccination rates, I think Broken Hill people are doing a really good job of doing what they have to do, so that hasn’t really been a problem for us.”

Mr Walsh said through the challenging times the forefront is to always serve the community as best as they can.

“The team’s done that, they’ve just been fantastic and stepped up where they’ve had to and done what we need to do to keep doors open,” he said.

“On the flip side of that, the community has been really patient with us, and we can’t thank them enough.

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