February 21st, 2024

South Country Co-op posts $17.9M dividend, up 50%

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on March 30, 2022.

The South Country Co-op cardlock location is shown on 30th Street SW in this February 2020 file photo.--News File Photo

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South Country Co-op had a bounce-back year in 2021, with sales again surpassing the half-billion-dollar mark as mainly fuel revenue recovered after the early stages of the pandemic.

The co-operative retailer revealed the results to members at its virtual annual general meeting on Monday night, outlining that drought conditions in 2021 impacted the agro division, and while bulk fuel sales improved, consumer fuel sales lagged.

Overall, South Country provided a $17.9-million dividend to 63,000 members, marking a near 50 per cent increase year over year.

That comprises equity and $13.4 million in cash dividends that were mailed this week.

“There is no doubt, 2021 was the most challenging year in the retail sector to date,” said general manager Paul Haynes in his report to members.

“We’re proud of these results despite the continued costs and challenges we are facing due to the pandemic.”

A 16 per cent increase in sales brought total sales to $511 million, including a 33 per cent increase in ag sales, specifically fertilizer, and better results in liquor and pharmacy divisions.

Results in 2020 were skewed as fuel sales and income plummeted, while grocery and other sales improved during the first nine months of the pandemic.

“The end result (in 2021) was a very positive outcome for South Country,” stated board chair Marcel Van Dungen. “Our balance sheet remains strong and our cash position remains healthy.”

A major portion of local equity calculations come from a further patronage refund from its umbrella group, Federated Co-op, which supplies regional entities.

Last year’s financial picture was hit hard by results at the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina. FLC announced on Feb. 28 that it posted $9.1 billion in total revenue in all divisions for 2021 and $495 million in earnings. Those figures are up from $7.9 billion and $177 million in 2020, respectively.

The 2021 outlay to regional member Co-ops across Western Canada was $353 million in total.

During the recent year, South Country completed a renovation at its Taber Food Store. The financial information does not outline any new capital projects.

The entity donated about $100,000 to charities, sports teams and community efforts in its trading region.

Also at the AGM, board incumbents Robert Weisgerber and Bill Ressler were re-elected to new terms, joined by new board member Margo Dyck.

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