ACSA – Atlantic C-Store News December 2020

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia pummel flavoured e-cigarette and vaping products
With no political resistance at all, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have changed legislation and regulations to ban flavoured e-cigarettes and juices. ACSA president Mike Hammoud is disappointed that there were no consultations with the convenience retailing industry by either government and wonders if the bans could have unintended consequences. “The flavour bans will likely result in the increased availability and consumption of illegal and unregulated flavoured products,” says Hammoud. “And it’s these products that have the greatest potential for harm to users simply because we don’t know what’s in them.” Hammoud says that the flavour bans also lose sight of the original intent of vaping products: “Vaping let tobacco smokers switch to a less harmful source of nicotine and was meant to aid in helping these former smokers wean themselves off nicotine. Many former smokers prefer flavoured vaping products, so what are they going to do now? And where’s the motivation for a tobacco smoker to switch?” The ACSA is encouraging the New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to take a more cautious and informed approach to reducing vaping among youth: “Youth vaping is a serious issue and our industry fully supports efforts to significantly reduce, and ideally eliminate, youth vaping. But limiting accessibility is a complex issue and just banning flavoured e-cigarettes and juices is too simplistic.” Hammoud was also complimentary on the solidarity of convenience store retailers in their concern as to how PEI and Nova Scotia have been approaching the issue. We are pleased to be discussing this issue with, Anne Kothawala, and the Convenience Industry Council of Canada. Whether you are an independent, or a corporate chain, whether you have one store or many, the fact remains that convenience stores are proven partners and responsible retailers of many age restricted categories. Retailers are not pleased with rules and regulations that impact them, and impact their customers without input, discussion or consultation. 

 HR Leadership course wraps up
ACSA members recently completed a 40 hour HR Leadership course instructed by Genevieve MacInnis. The course ran half days on Thursdays beginning late September and covered a range of HR topics such as successful hiring, diversity and inclusion, coaching employees and pay and benefits.  Pictured above is instructor Genevieve MacInnis and the class with their diplomas.  
Rough road ahead for recreational cannabis
There has been no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so far for recreational cannabis producers and retailers since consumer access was legalized a year ago. The number of retail outlets is woefully low in some jurisdictions; legal product can’t displace the illegal market because of pricing and accessibility; product supply went from too little to too much; and producers have been hammered taking back retail product that governments can’t sell.    Case in point…New Brunswick is ditching its government owned retail channel and is looking for someone in the private sector to take over the business. And the rush is on to get Health Canada approval for cannabis derivatives – edibles, drinks, concentrates and topicals – as the second wave of recreational cannabis access – also known as Cannabis 2.0 – became legal in October. Expectations are high with Deloitte estimating the market to be worth $2.7 billion annually. But there’s no shortage of risk with the number of different products and amount of supply coming onstream and the fickleness of provincial and territorial governments.Case in point…In response to youth vaping concerns with flavoured products, both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia will not be retailing flavoured cannabis vaping products. Time will tell. 
ACSA continues push for expanded beverage alcohol retailing through convenience stores in New Brunswick
NB Liquor doesn’t see the need, but the ACSA disagrees and maintains that there should be broader retailing of packaged beverage alcohol through convenience stores in New Brunswick. According to NB Liquor, retail distribution is essentially saturated with 66 grocery stores, 90 licensed agency stores and NB Liquor’s own corporate stores retailing wine, beer and spirits. The ACSA thinks that the current situation creates an unfair competitive landscape and that consumers should determine where they want to purchase packaged beverage alcohol. “As convenience retailers we all know it’s a big competitive advantage when you have packaged beverage alcohol in your product line-up,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “Instead of NB Liquor picking and choosing, let’s open up the retail channel and let the marketplace and open competition decide where it’s worthwhile to carry packaged beverage alcohol.” Hammoud recently met with Finance Minister Ernie Steeves for the second time in five months to discuss beverage alcohol retailing. Steeves, who is responsible for the Liquor Control Act and NB Liquor, says that the government is open to hearing ideas on how beverage alcohol retailing can be reasonably expanded. He also agreed to a joint meeting with NB Liquor and the ACSA to discuss packaged beverage alcohol retailing.  
New Brunswick looks to modernize liquor laws
Calling them “antiquated,” the New Brunswick government is looking to modernize a number of liquor laws in the Liquor Control Act and regulations to reduce red tape and barriers for the private sector. The review is being led by the Department of Public Safety who will make recommendations to government. The public will then have an opportunity to provide feedback on the actual changes that the government will be proposing. An important change under consideration that impacts the convenience retailing industry is allowing underage employees to handle unopened packaged beverage alcohol, including stocking shelves and cashiering. Right now, only adult employees in a licensed agency store can handle packaged beverage alcohol. “We really appreciate improvements like this that the government is considering,” says convenience retailer Chris Scholten. One of Scholten’s stores is a licensed agency and staff scheduling under the current regulations is a challenge. “Your hands are really tied with staff planning when only adults can handle packaged beverage alcohol,” says Scholten. “Even simple things like staff breaks become a problem.” Public Safety says that the department plans on having their recommendations ready early in 2020. 
 
Second annual Atlantic Convenience Expo gets thumbs up approval from exhibitors and visitors
October’s second annual Atlantic Convenience Expo at the Halifax Convention Centre received strong reviews from both exhibitors and visitors. After a strong start last year with the inaugural ACE show, 2019’s event saw more exhibitors on the show floor and more visitors through the door. “Our research showed that something like ACE was missing as a showcase event in the Maritimes and industry’s response these past two years has been great,” says show producer Mike Hammoud. “We made some changes with timing this year and it’s an ongoing learning process to maximize opportunities for both exhibitors and visitors. We’ve been going through a post-show analysis and we’re confident that there are a number of tweaks that we can make to keep ACE entertaining and informative.”
4.1 percent increase in retail motor fuel margin granted in New Brunswick
Following a public hearing in September, the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board issued a decision that raised the maximum retail motor fuel margin 4.1 percent to 6.8 cents per litre effective November 14. ASCA president Mike Hammoud says that while the increase benefits retailers, the industry generally believed that a higher increase was warranted and it’s tough to make a strong case to the NBEUB. “The review started with a 2015 base year and only went up to 2017, so we’re already two years behind on our costs,” Hammoud said. “We have a lot of anecdotal feedback from retailers about what’s happening with operating costs, but the Board wants factual, evidence-based information and that’s hard to pull together.”   
 
Ministerial mandate letters from new PE premier include expanding packaged beverage alcohol retailing Newly elected Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King released his ministerial mandate letters on October 11. Each letter from King to his 10 ministers identifies common goals for all cabinet ministers along with specific directives for each department. All mandate letters included directives that ministers remember “the importance of reducing red tape,” and that ministers consider “the climate impact while delivering on your priorities.” In her mandate letter, Finance Minister Darlene Compton’s directives included being tasked with “expand[ing] the PEILCC retail program with a focus on local product to allow more consumer choice and implement[ing] a program to extend the availability of alcoholic beverages at private retailers.” ACSA board member Ramona Roberts from Prince Edward Island is hopeful that opportunities will open up for Island convenience retailers: “We’ve been advocating for a number of years in Prince Edward Island for expanded private sector retailing of beverage alcohol. We’ve proposed distribution and retailing models and at this point we have to stay in touch with PEILCC and government decision makers as they look at their options.” 
Retail motor fuel margin increase application filed in Newfoundland and Labrador
Convenience retailer Glenn Sullivan has filed an application with the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities for an increase in the retail motor fuel margin. Sullivan and his wife own and operate nine convenience stores in Newfoundland. “The last margin adjustment was back at the beginning of 2015 and my operating costs have really jumped despite our efforts,” said Sullivan. “And there’s only so much cost cutting that you can do before you start to hurt your customer service.” Sullivan approached the ACSA about assisting him with the application and ACSA president Mike Hammoud says that the association was more than happy to help out. “Over the years we’ve gained a lot of experience throughout Atlantic Canada with margin reviews, so it was good to use that experience to help Glenn put his application together,” said Hammoud. The application was submitted to the PUB in November and Sullivan is waiting for a response from the Board.  
New Members Update
Wow. It seems every week new retail members are signing up to join the ACSA to tap into the many programs and benefits available. Here are some of the many new retail and associate members that have joined the ACSA.  Feel free to direct referrals our way and please reach out to connect with these great new member businesses that are now supporting your ACSA. New Associate Members:

Pointy – Dublin, Ireland
Pointy is a retail tech platform that turns online searches like “convenience store near me” into in-store sales for you. Pointy connects to your point of sale and builds an online storefront of all your products on Google. You scan your products as normal and they’ll appear on this online storefront. When nearby people search for products you sell, they can come up on Google alongside product details like whether it’s in stock, your store opening hours, contact details, and directions. Pointy is a one-off purchase, with no monthly or yearly recurring fees. It also includes a 90-day money-back guarantee so you can give Pointy a try completely risk-free. So why not try it and see if it can get more customers into your store?For more information contact:         Caroline Brady caroline@pointy.comAgnieszka Ziólkowska aga@pointy.com 
 
ReCreation Marketing – Laval, Quebec
ReCreation is a specialty marketing and distribution firm focused on building brands in the Canadian smoking, vaping and alternative products categories. ReCreation’s management has significant expertise in marketing and distributing tobacco products throughout Canada, with over 50 years of combined experience building and managing a portfolio of premium brands. ReCreation’s management is supported by a team of expert sales associates who serve up to 30,000 traditional retail outlets and newly established cannabis dispensariesKevin McDonald kevin@recreationmarketing.ca 

New Retail Members:

– Bridgewater Petro-Canada – Bridgewater, NS (Yasser Hammoud)
– Charlie’s General Store – Havelock, NB(Dana Hicks)
– Donovan’s Irving – Mount Pearl, NL(Terry Lidstone)
– Fairview Variety – Halifax, NS(Youssef Zukkar)
– Hammond’s Kwik-way – Chester, NS(Hassen Hammoud)
– Hydrostone Groceteria – Halifax, NS(Lee Rabahi)
– Kennedy’s Variety & Deli – Bible Hill, NS(Kevin Kennedy)
– Murray’s Irving – Woodstock, NB(Calvin Grant)
– Ohio Esso & Convenience – Yarmouth, NS(Earl Nickerson)
– Penobsquis Corner Gas – Penobsquis, NB(Denis Poirier)
– Quick Stop Convenience – Cornwall, PE(Bob Carmichael)
– Rick’s Variety – Halifax, NS(Dinesh Sharma) 
Retail excellence recognized at 11th Retail Convenience Awards Gala
Excellence among both suppliers and retailers was recognized at the 11th Retail Convenience Awards Gala held in October at the Halifax Convention Centre. Winner in the Innovative Beverage category was the 250ml Coca-Cola Mini Bottle, while Nestlé Coffee Crisp Thins took home the award for Innovative Food. The third winner on the supplier side was JUUL Labs who won in the Innovative Product category with their e-cigarette product. President’s Excellence awards in retail were awarded to Chris Scholten of Scholten’s, who operates several c-stores in New Brunswick, Christine Duguay, who owns and operates Cap-Pelé Esso in Cap-Pelé, New Brunswick, and Jeff Doucette, who is general manager of the Mel’s chain of 11 c-stores in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  
Mark the date
The next Nova Scotia training program is starting on January 28th from 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for 11 consecutive weeks.  The topic is Business Skills for Growth and Profitability.  For more information contact Mike Hammoud at hammoud@conveniencestores.ca or 902-880-9733.

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