“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heartache, you want it so!”
― Mark Twain
Spring has arrived! If you are anything like me, you can’t wait to get outside in the sunshine and experience all that the season of renewal in New England has to offer. The past two years have been particularly difficult, as we all hunkered down and isolated to stay safe, but it does feel as though the darkest days of the pandemic are behind us and we can see brighter days ahead. My deepest gratitude and heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has stayed with us and supported the Co-op in this unprecedented time.
Sales for the first half of the 2022 fiscal year have been strong. We are currently seeing sustained sales growth of 6% over last year, which is ahead of budget and positions us well for the busier back half of the fiscal year. Staying on top of supply chain disruptions and inflation has been a challenge, but we are making progress in shoring up our systems. We made some critical organizational structure changes over the winter that will help our Co-op grow into our new reality as an $11M in revenues a year Co-op, a feat that I couldn’t have imagined when I took over in 2015.
At the annual meeting, we announced the patronage dividend distribution for the 2021 fiscal year. Our co-op made $372,863 in pre-tax net income at the end of the fiscal year (FY). Roughly 65% of sales were to owners, meaning that $241,065 is eligible for distribution. Of that, 20% or $48,213 will be payable back to owners based on their purchases in the 2021 FY. Similar to last year, once distributed each owner will be given options at the register of how to utilize their 2020-2021 dividend, including using it toward purchases at the Co-op, paying towards your equity balance, receiving a cash or check payout, or donating it towards the Equity Assistance Fund which helps sponsor owner equity for those in need. After the deadline for claiming your dividend has passed, any full or partially unclaimed distributed dividends will be donated to the newly formed MOFGA and Maine Farmland Trust PFAS Emergency Relief Fund.
At your Co-op, we are looking ahead to an exciting year, full of new challenges and new opportunities for us and new and improved services for you, our customers. We are slowly building back capacity and preparing our store for an expansion/renovation in the coming year. In the next few months, we will be further assessing the feasibility of our current project, including civil, structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical engineers taking a hard look at our building and drafting plans for vital infrastructure upgrades. The Board of Directors will also be reaching out in the coming months to offer an opportunity for owners to participate in a capital campaign to raise funds for the expansion project. More details will be coming soon, but we are all excited to be moving forward after years of planning.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our virtual Annual Meeting on March 6. If you were not able to be there, the video is up on our website along with the past year’s Annual Report which I encourage all owners to watch and read. Also thank you to everyone who participated in the 2022 Board of Directors election. Your participation in the democratic process is the lifeblood of our cooperative.
Get out and enjoy the warmth and sunshine, then come into your community Co-op to pick up some springtime treats! Owned by you. Food for all.
Belfast Co-op General Manager