Humboldt Co-op $1 million in the black by end of 2018

HUMBOLDT — Thanks to high energy prices and an effort to reduce expenses, the Humboldt Co-op reported $1 million in savings by the end of 2018.

In 2017, the co-op was in the red, reporting a loss of almost $376,000.

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“Overall, it's been a pretty good growing year,” said Brent Walker, the co-op’s general manager, just after the co-op’s annual general meeting April 18.

More that half of the savings, $539,000, will go out as patronage payments to the co-op’s members.

Walker, who’s been at the job for almost a year, said much of his focus in 2018 was developing a strategic plan and building a team.

“With his guidance, we believe our co-op’s foundation remains solid,” said Roger Nordick, the president of the co-op’s board of directors. “We can now focus on meaningful member engagement and increased customer experience.”

A diesel exhaust fuel fluid dispenser was also installed at the Humboldt cardlock.

The co-op made $46.2 million in sales in 2018, compared to $45.1 million the previous year. Expenses were $6.5 million in 2018, compared to $7.3 million the previous year.

“The teams did do a pretty good job working at decreasing as many expenses as possible,” Walker said.

The co-op also received $3.2 million from its share of Federated Co-operatives Ltd. patronage payments, compared to $1.9 million in 2017. Federated Co-ops made record profits in 2018 due to high energy prices and an ability to process Albertan oil that had a hard time getting to other markets.

High energy prices also benefited the Humboldt Co-op’s sale numbers.

Plans for the future include upgrades to the Lanigan cardlock, replacing three dispensers, upgrading to LED lighting, install directional lane signage and improve the general presentation of the facility.

The co-op’s administration offices are moving into the Humboldt Food Store to reduce lease expenses and have management more accessible to staff and customers.

Walker said the co-op would be looking to the future.

“For 2019, we are still continuing to work on our strategic plan. We want to be looking out 10 years, see what the long term viability of the organization is and make sure we're doing things correctly today to put ourselves into that place.”

The general manager said that over the next few years, the co-op will have to replace its fleet of fuel trucks.

“The other thing we're looking at doing is doing a interior upgrade to our C-store,” he said. “It's pretty tired and doesn't quite fit our standards. We just want to do some work to improve that.”

Nordick said the Co-operative Retailing System is also spending more time looking at how the retail world is changing in the face of Amazon and online shopping. Walker said at this point, it was more of a concern in urban centres, but it would be something that would affect rural Saskatchewan over time.

The co-op does have a home delivery service, which Walker said had a few new users since the delivery fee was waived for seniors and people with disabilities.

Members of the co-op also voted to change the bylaws at the meeting to allow people who are under the age of 16 who are working for the co-op to become members.

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