Woolies to close in-store butcheries due to consumer demand changes and labour challenges

Beef Central, 20/01/2023

THE nation’s largest supermarket retailer, Woolworths, will close 250 of its 300 in-store butcheries across Australia and make about 490 staff redundant under plans revealed to staff this week.

Around 300 of Woolworths 1000 nationwide carry in-store butcheries, leaving only around 50 ‘flagship’ stores, mostly in capital cities, offering an over-the counter service.

The remainder will now offer only pre-packaged meat to customers.

The closures, likely to occur by the end of March this year, follow a similar decision by Coles in 2021 when it shut its in-store butchery counters.

Both Coles and Woolworths have been involved in cycles of in-store butchery openings and closures over the past 20 years, depending on the prevailing management view.

Woolworths staff were informed of the decision yesterday.

Worst affected will be New South Wales/ACT with 75 butchery closures, followed by Victoria with 62 and Queensland 49. Western Australia will lose 44 in-store butcheries, SA/NT 17 and Tasmania four.

It is suggested that Woolworths has seen a shift in customer preference away from in-store butchery service in favour of pre-packaged meat, with a review suggesting it now accounts for only four percent of overall meat trade – significantly less than over the counter sales in seafood, deli and bakery. In the stores that have both butcher shops and pre-packaged meat options, only around ten percent of customers purchase some meat over the counter.

Dry aged beef cabinet at Woolworths Indooroopilly store’s butchery.

Challenging labour conditions across both the meat industry and the retail sector is another key factor in the decision.

Woolworths said the move came after a recent review of the long-term viability of its butcher shops. Operations in the remaining 50 stores will be streamlined to reduce the amount of on-site processing, and remove the use of bandsaws and mincers.

Under the closure plan, around 200 team-members who work some hours in the butcher shop as well as other parts of the store will have their rosters adjusted to work solely in other departments.

Team members whose roles are made redundant as a result of this change will be provided redeployment to a different role within Woolworths if that is their preference.

“We deeply regret the impact of this decision on the team members who work in our butcher shops and we know many of them are well known by our regular customers,” Woolworths said in a statement.

“We’re very grateful for the contribution these team members have made and we’ll be offering redeployment to another role for those who are interested, or re-employment support for those who leave the business.”

“Across all stores, we’ll continue to offer our customers high-quality fresh meat through our wide selection of pre-cut case-ready meats that are conveniently packaged to pick up on the go,” the Woolworths spokesperson said.




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  1. Craig whitehouse, 21/03/2023

    Can you please tell me if a Woolies butcher is still operating in Brisbane . I will travel to that store to still buy my meat as it was the best
    Thank you

  2. Roberta Moreton, 07/03/2023

    I believe this is the wrong way to go. Would always go to to woolies for my meat at the butchers and end up doing my shop there. Coles is much closer to home, so it looks like my days of shopping at Woolies are over. Would love it, if they made a u-turn ……

  3. Maree Mathison, 08/02/2023

    Disgraceful act by woolworths. I guess the butcher shops will have an increase in business. I loathe the pre packaged meat at both coles and woolworths. The staff at Woolworths butcher at Nerang actually are butchers and KNOW about meat. What happens to all those talented people? Big mistake Woolworths.

  4. Andrew Eves, 01/02/2023

    woolies the fresh food people what a joke so undermining the local butchers for years and now this reprehensible so now woolies the not so fresh food people

  5. Brad Ronald Stephenson, 25/01/2023

    Fresh food people what a joke will have to shop elsewhere for quality meat wrong move woolworths

  6. Michael Vail, 21/01/2023

    So, after destroying suburban family butcher-shops on purpose through price-cutting, and for decades, Woolworths now closes their in-house ‘shops’ !! Appalling behaviour …

    And society is worse for it … IMO

    Maybe there’s an opportunity for young Butchers to re-open the corner shop model; if they can remember how to break a carcass down … as it all arrives as boxed-cuts these days … not too many ‘bodies’ delivered, for a 4:00am start for fresh-cut meat that day …

  7. Melissa, 20/01/2023

    I personally think this decision is the wrong way to go.
    I love having a butcher in my local Woolworths.
    I will now look to buy elsewhere for most of my meat.

  8. Prepackaged is rubbish. I use my local Woolworths butcher because I can get the quantity I require, advice regarding the meat or cut and I can see it properly.
    If the butcher goes I will getting my meat elsewhere

  9. Ron Overliese, 20/01/2023

    Very disappointed in Woolworths Board, for this short sighted and damaging (to local employment) and already hard hit pandemic aftermath of reduction in services.

    Not well done Woolies!

  10. Ian McKenzie, 20/01/2023

    Customer service is not on Woolworths radar.The expectation is that customers will be happy with Pre cut and Packaged product is why so many people are going back to the good old family Butcher to be able to purchase product that fits their needs.Size,quality thickness, marbling all have a major play in meal preparation.
    Bring back the good old days where the customer has choice?

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