Last year rough for the Co-op

  • Feb. 4, 2008 7:00 p.m.

The Delmas Co-op had a rough year last year, with sales dropping at the Masset store and expenses going up. Manager Richard Clarmont said a lack of activity at the two fish plants in Masset contributed to the sales slowdown during the first few months of the financial year ending Sept. 30, 2007. The opening of a competing grocery store in Masset also bit into sales, he said. But sales picked up about halfway through the financial year, Mr. Clarmont said. The co-op finished the year with sales of $11.4-million, down about four percent from sales of $11.8-million the previous year. The sales drop was much more significant at the Masset store than at the Co-op’s second store in Skidegate, he said. Expenses were higher mostly because of extra costs incurred as the co-op moved into a new building in Masset this summer, Mr. Clarmont said. Staff worked extra hours moving inventory and getting the store ready. The bottom line was net savings of $286,000 for the Co-op last year, less than half the $594,000 net savings reported the year before. Meanwhile, Mr. Clarmont said the cost of bringing freight to the islands continues to rise and is driving up the prices of some groceries. Some customers have blamed the higher prices on the Co-op’s new store, but Mr. Clarmont said the two have nothing to do with each other. “The new store was all planned and budgeted for, it wasn’t based on raising prices,” he said. Co-op staff did a price comparison in December, adding up the cost of buying a cart of 25 items at various grocery stores on the islands as well as the Safeway in Prince Rupert. Mr. Clarmont said the Safeway was the cheapest, followed by the Masset Co-op and then the Gwaii branch. “I was pretty happy about it,” he said. “We’re the cheapest on the island.” But he warned that prices could continue to increase, as the cost of freight goes up. The price of grain is also rising, which will lead to higher prices on flour, bread and other grain products, he predicted.

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