Co-op finishes year in black again

  • Jan. 28, 2013 1:00 p.m.

by Jeff King–Delmas Co-operative Association finished its last fiscal year more in the black than last year, members learned at Sunday’s annual general meeting in Masset. Last year has been very challenging for the association, board president Bob Isaacs told members, and said that it’s thanks to members and employees both in Masset and Skidegate that the association finished the year with a minimal sales decline. Sales in the year ending September 29, 2012 were very slightly lower than the previous year, at $10,802, compared to $10,874. Mr. Issacs said this appears to be a sign that the economic slowdown is levelling off. Net savings (profit) in the past fiscal year were $185,112, up from $49,100 the year before, which followed three years of losses. Because of the improved performance, the Coop board has decided to provide an allocation of 1 percent of member purchases with a 25 percent cash back. The Coop runs a grocery store and home supply centre in Masset and a grocery store in Skidegate, with the Masset stores accounting for about 70 percent of sales. Mr. Isaacs also told the 45 people attending the meeting that membership increased over the last year, with 101 new members joining and 30 leaving. Total active membership of the association now stands at 2,711. He also noted the board approved donations of $10,560 to non-profit community groups as well as $7,420 to special events throughout the year. “We the board are again very proud of the achievement of the association this past year and would like to thank management, staff and especially you the members who, with your continued support, have made this another successful year of operation,” Mr. Isaacs said. Those attending also heard that in February, the Gwaii Coop will begin replacing its aging produce display cases, and that there are other problems with the Skidegate location. “There is still an ongoing concern at the Gwaii branch that we have not been able to successfully agree to a lease renewal with the Gwaalagaa NaayCorporation, Building Committee Chair Bret Johnston told the meeting. He said the board is looking at several options including expanding the present store, building a new store or purchasing or leasing an existing facility. “All options will be explored,” he said. Lisa Edwards, chair of the finance committee said the Coop is continuing to pay down its $1 million debt on the new Masset store as quickly as possible, making weekly payments of $5,124. Glenn Fahlmann, chair of the member relations committee noted several events held over the past year, including the ice cream booth at Harbour Days, lending the big barbecue to several events and organizing the Christmas tree lightings in Masset and Skidegate. “It was so well attended in Masset that we ran out of hot dogs,” Mr. Fahlmann said. General manager Richard Clarmont thanked management and staff for their hard work during the past year. He pointed to the over $128,000 increase in profit, and said that despite the stagnant economy, the Coop is doing well. Mr. Clarmont said the Coop will continue bi-weekly food promotions again in the coming year, although managers will monitor them very closely, as freight costs are always a problem. “As we go forward this year, we must continue to focus on what has made our Co-op the success it has enjoyed to date by providing goods and services that our membership requires” Mr. Clarmont said. Three directors were acclaimed and will remain on the board. They were Hank Taggart, Alana Valentensen and Bret Johnston. And Doug Potentier of Federated Coop spoke briefly about the Coop’s oil refinery expansion in Regina, and a new computer app now available. Then it was time for questions from members. Fran Redick noted that she sees a trend in the grocery store towards more non-food items. “Would they not be better displayed in the home centre and leave the groceries alone,” she said. Mr. Clarmont said the non-food items have higher profit margins, and that just about every food store is now selling more non-food items. “We would like to have fresh vegetables for once in our life,” said Audrey Samuels, “the apples are rotten to the core.” Mr. Clarmont promised to look into that. Ms Samuels then asked about how Coop workers were trained, and Mr. Clarmont said there are six on-line modules each employee has to finish. “I’m trying to think about what to complain about,” Lilly Bell said to some laughter. She then remembered that a bag of potatoes she bought in December was sub-standard. “I got 3 to 5 pounds of potatoes at most out of a ten pound bag,” she said. But she did say that not everything was bad. “This year, the turkeys were really, really good.” Mr. Clarmont assured the meeting that the Coop cares about quality, and he will be discussing the concerns with managers and suppliers. Then it was time for the prize draws, with the major prize, a flight to Vancouver on Pacific Coastal, going to Leona Kennedy (see photo).