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Weyburn Co-op sales remain at healthy levels

81st annual general meeting:

The Weyburn Co-operative Association saw a slight decrease in sales from 2008, but their fiscal year of 2009 was considered a success with sales increasing in a number of areas, along with extensive construction completed on their flagship food store.Members and staff gathered to hear the details on how the year went at the 81st annual meeting held on Apr. 27 at McKenna Hall.The association's overall total sales was just $53 million for the year, which was down 4.5 per cent from 2008, while food and general merchandise both saw increases in sales over the year.

This year's financial results will not reflect the same financial results as 2008. However, based on the world economy and the new construction and renovations the Co-operative has experienced, I feel it was a very successful year, said Don Kraft, general manager of the Weyburn Co-op. Kraft was later honoured with a plaque for his 35 years of service to Co-op stores, since he began in 1975 in North Battleford; he's been in Weyburn since 1991.Kraft outlined how the association spent about $2.5 million on the renovations and additions to the food store, including the installation of U-scans in the food store, and major renovations as also done at the Crossroads restaurant location, along with interior upgrades at the Sud City location.Controller Tom Morgan broke down the specific numbers in the financial report, noting that sales in the food division were up by 5.1 per cent, with groceries increasing by 3.6 per cent. The bakery department was up by 3.8 per cent, produce by 3.6 per cent, the deli by 10.3 per cent, and the meat department was up in sales by 5.4 per cent.The petroleum division saw a decrease in dollar sales of 10 per cent, partly due to a 20 per cent drop in fuel prices, but the number of litres sold increased by 11.9 per cent. Crossroads had increases in all area, with dollar sales up by eight per cent, and litres sold up by 22.7 per cent, the majority of that in pumps and card-lock.In general merchandise, sales were up by 2.4 per cent, led by the Building materials department with an increase of 11 per cent over the previous year, and sporting goods were up by 10 per cent. Hardware, on the other hand, had a slight decrease, but Expressions sales were up by 12.1 per cent.The gross margin, in terms of dollars, increased by $415,000; expressed as a percentage of sales, the margin was up from 14 per cent last to 15.4 per cent this year.Operating expenses increased by just over $822,000, and is 16.4 per cent as a percentage of sales. As a percentage of sales, expenses were up 2.1 per cent. Staff costs increased by 10.6 per cent from last year, and as a percentage of sales, it increased to 10.2 per cent.The association's net savings from operations were just over $2.2 million, and patronage refunds from the Federated Co-op and Weyburn Credit Union were down, with the FCL allocation down by 31.8 per cent.The Weyburn association allocated just under $1.9 million to the membership., and $1.5 million will be returned with equity cheques to be distributed in June.The following will be the equity allocation, based on the profits experienced in each department: the equity allocation for food will be three per cent; pharmacy, three per cent; bulk fuel, 5.5 per cent; gas bar operations, 5.5 per cent; Home Centre, 1.5 per cent, and fashions, 1.5 per cent..This allocation is below last year's, but it's also above the five-year average for allocations.In the question-and-answer period, Kraft was asked about the Co-op's situation with the City Centre Mall, and he admitted the Co-op is not happy with the situation, and are planning to move out of the mall when the current lease runs out on Aug. 31, 2012.We're not happy with the way things are going at the mall. We have served notice to the owners and are prepared to move if they don't sit down and negotiate. At present the mall doesn't have a lot of retail; the reason we moved in there is we were promised a full retail mall, said Kraft, noting now there are more and more offices filling up the spaces, not stores that bring in the shopping public.Gord Busch of the food store answered a question about why the large cooler of fresh flowers is no longer available in the store; he noted the cooler was in place for 12 years, and they had a large inventory on hand. They found with competition for fresh flowers in the city, they weren't selling as much, so now the store makes some available on the retail floor in a small quantity.For the board elections, there were three nominations for the three terms which expired in 2010, so no election was held. The directors Ron Alexander, Linda Banerjee and Don Horner were all appointed to new three-year terms.

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