JOHANNESBURG – Woolworths is investing R1 billion over the next two to three years to make food and fashion products more accessible to low-income consumers.

The group said on Tuesday that it planned to make an R750 million investment in its Foods business, and R250m in the Fashion business.

Woolworths South Africa chief executive, Zyda Rylands, said that the first phase of this journey would begin with an R250m price investment planned in the Foods business and R250m in the Fashion business for this financial year.

“Over the last few years, we have been on a journey to invest in the prices of key product lines and categories to ensure we continue to provide our customers with the value they have come to expect from us. The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised this need and therefore accelerated our price journey, because of the significant impact it has had on our economy and on the lives of our customers and their families,” said Rylands.

Rylands said through the Covid-19 crisis, the company had focussed on identifying further efficiencies in its business as well as in its value chain, to find opportunities to be more effective and cut costs.

” We have worked very closely with our suppliers and partners to ensure that we realise these sustainable and mutually beneficial operational improvements. We are pleased to be able to pass most of the savings of these efficiencies onto our customers,” said Rylands.

Rylands said the investment was being focussed on the most popular Woolworths products and that in Foods, this included the entire fresh chicken range such as all whole and portion chicken packs, excluding Easy to Cook, crumbed and marinated chicken.

“While this investment will initially be most visible in our poultry products, we have also applied for more promotions on everyday basics across Groceries, Household and Personal Care to be more affordable to more customers,” said Rylands.

In Fashion, the investment would be in selected key wardrobe-essentials.

“Our price investment journey over the next three years will help us help our customers who are deeply concerned about the economic impact of Covid on the country and their budgets. Through this effort we will be able to offer the Woolies exceptional quality products our customers love at more accessible prices,” said Rylands.