Southern Plains Co-op reflects on another good year at annual general meeting

The Southern Plains Co-op once again enjoyed the support of people throughout the southeast region. 

The co-op held its annual general meeting Monday night at the Prairie Dog Drive-In north of Carlyle. Thirty-two people signed the attendance registrar, but there were people present who didn’t sign in. 

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“It worked out well,” said Southern Plains Co-op general manager Brian Enns. “Those in attendance could either listen through their vehicle radio or there was a speaker on the side of the building that you could also hear through.” 

Sales for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2020, were at $79.4 million, down slightly from the $79.5 million the previous year. The co-op had a $67.9 million cost of goods sold, for a gross margin of $11.5 million. After operating and administration expenses of more than $13 million, the co-op had a loss from operations of $1.48 million. 

The co-op received a patronage dividend of more than $5 million from Federated Co-operatives Ltd., and after allowing for a deduction for income taxes payable, the co-op wound up with net savings of more than $3.5 million. 

The co-op also eclipsed a milestone last year, as it has now exceeded $1.5 billion in sales since it was incorporated in 1946. 

In his report to the board, chairperson Scott Kienlen said the co-op is pleased to have maintained sales over the past number of years despite the challenging business environment. 

“We continue working in partnership with our neighbouring co-ops when opportunities arise, whether it be shared delivery of fuel, agro supplies, providing administrative support and most recently health and safety services and shared bulk oil delivery.” 

Kienlen pointed out the co-op continues to contribute to the local communities with donations, fundraising sponsorships and volunteering for events and projects. The community engagement committee reported that the co-op invested $150,482 back into the communities they live in during 2019, thanks to support of various organization and a number of different events throughout their region. 

The board approved equity allocations of 2.75 per cent on food purchases, 5.25 per cent on petroleum, 6.75 per cent on dyed diesel fuel, 9.75 per cent on oil and 1.5 per cent on all other purchases. In total, they paid $1,741,045 back to the members. 

As for highlights from the past year, the co-op added a liquor store to their grocery store in Estevan and their convenience store in Oxbow. They also did some exterior branding at the Estevan gas bar and convenience store. 

They have purchased a retail liquor sales permit for Carlyle. The new store, which would be located at their convenience store at the junction of Highway 9 North and 13, is expected to be ready in 2021. 

“We also purchased land in Carlyle for the new food store in the future,” said Enns. 

Also during the meeting, the co-op held its election of directors. Lynne Hewitt, Richard Ruetz and Linda Thauberger-Smith were acclaimed to another three-year term on the board. Michelle Deichert, who was also on the board, did not seek another term. 

Kienlen will be the chairperson for a second year. Thauberger-Smith will be the vice-chair and James Lainton will be the secretary. Other members of the board include Frances Boutin, David Murray, Rhonda Huish and Darcy Calder.

Next week's edition of the Mercury will have more on this story. 

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