Prairie Sky Co-op holds first-ever virtual AGM

The Prairie Sky Co-operative Association held their annual meeting virtually for the first time, with staff, board members and Co-op members all taking part online.

The attendees heard the financial report by Rebecca Filteau, who told them that overall sales for 2019 totalled $84.1 million, which was down $4.5 million from the year before or about five per cent.

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The sales in food retail totaled $21.7 million, which was an increase of $535,000, with increases between three and five per cent for the various commodities.

The division where a decrease occurred was in general merchandise, with sales totaling $3.7 million, down 21 per cent from the year before.

As Filteau explained, this was the first full year for this division to have no fashion sales as they had sold the Expressions retail store in Weyburn.

For the petroleum division, in 2019 they sold five million less litres of gas, or 43 million litres, and $4 million less in dollars or $38 million, with the slowdown in the oilpatch cited as the main reason for this decline.

In the branches outside of Weyburn, both Milestone and Lang saw increases in petroleum sales, selling 12.4 million litres bringing in $11.5 million, and non-fuel sales at $4.3 million.

The operating expenses totaled $13.6 million, she added.

The board of directors have authorized a total of $2.7 million to be reimbursed to the Co-op members, and the remainder will go into reserves.

Filteau also reported that 94 per cent of the assets owned by Prairie Sky Co-op are free of debt.

Some of the milestones being celebrated at this annual meeting include two retiring board members, as Henry Jones is retiring after 21 years of service, and Del Croissant is retiring after 18 years. In addition, general manager Kevin Arthur will be marking 30 years in the co-operative system in October.

The patronage allocations for this year, which are based on the purchases made by members throughout the year, will be as follows: pharmacy, three per cent; petroleum and oil, four per cent; home centre and agro, two per cent, and liquor two per cent.

In his report, Arthur noted the board made the difficult decision to close the gas bar at the Weyburn food store, as it was in need of some major repairs, and it didn’t generate enough volume of sale to make those repairs feasible.

The gas bar was demolished, the fuel tanks removed from underground, and currently a crew is paving over the area with the idea to make the parking spaces bigger.

Another major decision was to start construction of the Co-op’s new home centre next to the Crossroads C-store and cardlock location at Highways 39 and 13. (The above photo is showing a crew pouring foundation pilings for the new Home Centre.)

“The current facility no longer meets the members’ needs, and we are unable to grown our business in this location,” said Arthur, adding the new home centre should be open for business by early summer of 2021 with a larger selection of home building supplies.

He paid tribute to the Co-op staff who worked extra hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believe they went above and beyond to ensure our community had access to the essentials through the pandemic,” he said, adding they also provided extra cleaning and sanitation at all of their facilities during this time.

The Co-op association made a total of $150,000 in donations in 2019 and staff provided a total of 3,900 volunteer hours in the community. One of the staff’s initiatives was a casual Friday drive through which they donated a portion of their paycheques, and raised a total of $3,700, with funds donated to Weyburn Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Southeast Regional Library, Salvation Army and Telemiracle.

Through the Fuel Good promotion, they donated $3,000 to the Family Place, and $1,600 each to the Riceton community centre and the Beaubier community hall.

Brett Ferguson was re-elected to the board, and Melanie Sorensen was newly elected by acclamation.

The board includes Ferguson as board president, Stella Swertz as first vice-president, Leanne Anderson as second vice-president, and directors are Kevin Lohse, Nick Coroluick, Jim Linnell and Ken Kot in addition to Sorensen.