ACSA president tours PEI convenience stores
ACSA president Mike Hammoud travelled Prince Edward Island tip-to-tip in November, visiting c-stores and meeting with retailers. According to Hammoud, the PEI c-store industry is playing at the top of their game.
“We all know how competitive convenience retailing is,” says Hammoud. “And I was impressed with the effort that retailers are putting in to stay ahead of the competition.”
Hammoud says that retailers are being responsive to what their customers expect in a lot of ways, including store refreshes and new offerings, particularly in the ready-to-eat segment.
Hammoud also came away from his visits with a lot of support for expanded beverage alcohol retailing in the c-store channel: “The ACSA has been advocating for some time in PEI for broad beer and perhaps wine retailing in c-stores. It’s good to know that Island retailers still support that and we’ll continue to push for it"
10th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala recognizes industry excellence
Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 10th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at the Halifax Convention Centre in October.
Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the awards showcase product and retail excellence in five categories…President’s Excellence, Innovative Beverage, Innovative Food, Innovative Health Food or Beverage and, new this year, Innovative Product.
The President’s Excellence award is given to businesses or people who have demonstrated excellence in operations and are clearly viewed as an important and valuable part of their community. Winners of this year’s President’s Excellence award were Steve Morine, TJ's Convenience, Aldershot, NS; Janet McLeod, Wilson Fuel Co. Limited, Halifax, NS; and Dave Button, North Atlantic Petroleum, St. John's, NL.
Finalists in the Innovative Beverage category were New Diet Coke, Monster Hydro and Big 8 Pineapple (2L) with New Diet Coke selected as the category winner. Old Dutch Chips (255g bags) received the Innovative Food award with other finalists being Magnum Ice Cream Bars (Unilever) and Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme Crunchers.
The Innovative Health Food or Beverage category included finalists KIND Bars, IÖGO Smoothie (300ml) and CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar with the award going to CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar.
Finalists for the Innovative Product award were Fidget Spinners, SMART e-Lighters and the SMART Wireless Charger, with the winner being the SMART Wireless Charger.
“The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 28,300 people full and part-time at 3,300 convenience store locations across the region and generates more than a half-billion dollars in annual sales,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. "We were so pleased to have so many great companies and individuals nominated and everyone is a winner in my book.”
Through their advocacy work at the provincial government level, the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association informs politicians and government officials on business and economic issues impacting convenience store retailers. To be effective it certainly helps to have consistency in the governing party.
Prince Edward Island
The governing Liberals are in their third term with the next election likely in April 2019.
“In PEI we’ve had the consistency we like with governments,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “Winning a fourth term has always been a challenge for any ruling government and PEI is likely no exception. PEI polls and the recent New Brunswick election reflect a lot of volatility in the electorate, so the next election will be interesting.”
The governing Liberals are in their second term with the next election likely in 2021.
“The Liberals have had two majority governments, there’s stability in government and the next election is a ways off, so it’s a working environment we’re happy with,” says Hammoud.
After one term in office, the ruling Liberals couldn’t form a minority government after November’s election and the Progressive Conservatives are now the ruling party in a minority government.
“Well, we’d certainly like to see more stability and consistency in New Brunswick,” says Hammoud. “That being said, Premier Blaine Higgs was finance minister from 2010 to 2014 in the David Alward government and he was receptive to the ACSA both then and as opposition leader before being elected as Premier.”
Newfoundland and Labrador
The governing Liberals were elected as a majority government in November 2015. The next election is tentatively scheduled for October 8, 2019 under Newfoundland and Labrador’s fixed election dates.
“The Liberals are in their first term and the government has had to deal with a lot of issues,” says Hammoud. “We’ve made headway in building relationships and it would be beneficial to our industry to see that continue.”
ACSA will meet with Atlantic Lottery Corporation
ACSA representatives will meet with Atlantic Lottery Corporation in the new year to discuss input on products offered.
“We have a great working relationship with Atlantic Lottery and we were delighted that they are open to discussing new options, possibly new products and a recalibration of compensation structure for retailers,” said Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA.
ACSA, NL government and NLC working together
A short story about staying on top of industry developments…
Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) raised the price of retail packaged beer in early October. But in the notification to retailers the NLC stated that the Brewer’s Agent Commission would not change. That meant that the retail margin would drop from 7.5 percent to 7.4.
As anyone retailing beer knows, margins are razor thin relative to the space and handling required, so every penny counts.
A retailer notified the ACSA about the issue and the ACSA sent a letter to Tom Osborne, the minister responsible for the NLC. Osborne had his people check with the NLC, who then looked into the matter and came back saying that freezing the commission was an “oversight.”
End of story…the commission has been adjusted to maintain the 7.5 percent margin.
Convenience stores raise $130,000 for Children’s Wish Foundation
The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) helped celebrate Small Business Week in Canada by presenting a cheque to the Children’s Wish Foundation for $130,000 raised during the second national
Convenience Store Day in August.
Convenience Store Day celebrates the contribution that c-stores make to their communities. As part of the celebrations, local politicians and other celebrities spend a half-hour helping to serve customers.
“Canada’s c-stores are really at the heart of their communities,” says event manager Steve Dunne. “We had more than 250 participants at 300 participating c-stores this year, and the $130,000 raised topped the $82,500 that was raised in 2017. More than $362,000 in donations have been raised since Convenience Store Day was first launched as a regional event in Atlantic Canada.”
Mary Ng, federal Minister of Small Business & Tourism, visited Q&Q Convenience Store in Markham, Ontario and released a video paying tribute to neighbourhood retailers across Canada.
"Charitable efforts, like this one, demonstrate how convenience stores are an important part of our communities in addition to being essential to Canada’s economy, said Ng.
Chris Kotsopoulos, CEO of Children’s Wish Foundation says that the funds donated have gone a long way in helping to bring a little happiness to children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
"The average cost of a wish is $10,000 and the funds raised to date through Convenience Store Day have made many heartfelt wishes possible. The power of a wish is both profound and lasting, and its positive effects are felt not only by our wish kids, but also by their families and the larger community around them. We deeply appreciate the generosity of retailers, their staff, community leaders and the Canadian Convenience Stores Association.”
ACSA meets with Atlantic petroleum regulators
ACSA representatives met with Atlantic petroleum regulators in October at the Atlantic Petroleum Regulators Conference. The regulators meet annually to discuss regulatory issues and practices and meetings with stakeholders are part of the conference.
Issues discussed with the regulators included:
Inconsistencies in burden of evidence required for retail gasoline margin increase applications. A need for regular and consistent retail gasoline margin reviews;The impact of capital expenditures and repairs on retail petroleum operations;Accurately interpreting labour cost changes; andThe need for an economic template or model to establish retail gasoline margins in a more timely, consistent and effective manner.
“There are a lot of inconsistencies between the four Atlantic provinces in establishing retail gasoline margins,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ASCA. “We strongly believe that there should be a harmonized process, and that process should include a standardized calculation model. It’s an uphill battle trying to convince four sets of boards and administrative regulators, but it’s a high priority for the ACSA.”
Prince Edward Island is currently conducting an internal margin review while New Brunswick has indicated that it intends to conduct a review in the spring. Any reviews in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador must be initiated by a retailer and the ACSA is looking at the best way to put together quality evidence in support of any margin increase application.
New Brunswick reviews minimum wage
The New Brunswick government is undertaking a statutory minimum wage review and is canvassing stakeholders for input “on the setting of the minimum wage rate.” The provincial minimum wage is currently $11.25 per hour, which came into effect in April 2018.
With the last adjustment the minimum wage was also indexed to the New Brunswick Consumer Price Index. But the government also has the authority to adjust based on factors such as minimum wage rates and minimum wage rate increases in other jurisdictions.
New Brunswick currently has the fourth lowest minimum wage rate in Canada, but the rate is in line with rates in Atlantic Canada. Alberta’s $15.00 rate became effective in October, while a planned rate of $15.00 in Ontario on January 1st was cancelled by the new Progressive Conservative government.
British Columbia’s $12.65 rate came into effect in June, and the provincial government has plans to increase the rate to $13.85 in 2019, $14.60 in 2020, and $15.20 in 2021.
“The ACSA has supported models such as indexing the minimum wage to the CPI because it gives retailers some stability in budgeting and managing operations,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “What we don’t want are shock increases. Let’s face it, most retailers have done their budgeting and operations planning for 2019. What happens now if New Brunswick comes out with an increase that is larger than the CPI because they think they have to play catch-up to PEI, or something like that?”
The inaugural ACE show aced it
With more than 60 exhibitors and over 500 attendees, the ACSA’s first annual Atlantic Convenience Expo was a great success.
“Everyone seemed to have a great time and there was a tremendous amount of networking and business development done,” says show manager Hind Hammoud. “The results from this inaugural show have demonstrated that we’re on the right path with our goal of producing an event that meets the growing and dynamic needs of both suppliers and retailers.”
ACE 2019 will take place at the Halifax Convention Centre in downtown Halifax on Tuesday, October 22nd. Hammoud says that next year’s show will feature more exhibitors and more information sessions both before and during the show.
ACSA works with Nova Scotia government to reduce red tape
Reducing Nova Scotia’s regulatory burden, or red tape, has been a priority issue for Stephen McNeil’s government. In 2017, the government set out to reduce regulatory burden by $25-million by the end of 2018. As of March 2018, 93 percent of the target had either been fully implemented or approved for implementation.
“Along with other industry associations the ACSA was asked to be part of the red tape reduction planning,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “I was really impressed with how committed both the government and government officials were to the process.”
Hammoud says he’s heard good news stories from retailers of all sizes about changes that have made business life a little bit easier.