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ACSA highlights c-store successes in 2012

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Photo by PK

If you need proof that the convenience channel is thriving in Atlantic Canada, look no further than the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s Industry Conference & Awards Gala. More than 200 industry members attended the sold-out ACSA gathering at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax on November 8, culminating in the presentation of this year’s ACSA Retail Convenience Awards.

ACSA Chair Warren Maynard kicked off the festivities by portraying the changing face of the convenience channel and the association’s evolving role. “Our job as retailers is to be able to understand and respond to the changing marketplace. Our industry needs a strong, unified voice, and the ACSA has become that voice. The ACSA is a change agent.”

Positive change was definitely the theme of the event, as ACSA President Mike Hammoud engaged the crowd with a recap of the major changes resulting from association efforts in 2012.

“Progress is made because we have a great community of retailers who are ready to jump in and help out. We are convenience store retailers who work together to make the industry stronger,” declared Hammoud, who pointed out that the ACSA now represents 60 percent of the region’s 3,400 convenience stores.

Hammoud informed members of the ACSA’s success in completing three retail gas margin files in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, with a review underway for a retail gas margin increase in Newfoundland and Labrador. “Gasoline retailing is a tough business, and we have to do everything we can to keep our heads above water. The increases on gas margins put roughly $12 or $13,000 into our retailers’ pockets a year.”

The ACSA expanded its grassroots network in all four provinces, focusing on raising awareness of the contraband tobacco issue in the region, increasing beer margins in Newfoundland and Labrador, and raising distribution of retail beverage alcohol. Five new agency store outlets were added inPEI, with the ACSA advocating for more throughout the region.

The We Expect ID age verification program was also validated in 2012, when thePEIgovernment secretly shopped 150 retailers for tobacco age check violations. Every retailer passed.

Hammoud was proud to announce that, along with its grassroots victories, the ACSA raised more than $15,000 for charities, and held its inaugural Convenience Store Day in Dartmouth and Fredericton to “raise awareness of the convenience store industry among the general public and politicians.”

CCSA President Alex Scholten presented information from the national State of the Industry Report, providing figures regarding the number of c-stores, sales, margins, and credit card fees. The report, which also focused on overregulation, found that a staggering 517 federal and provincial laws directly affect c-store retailers.

The Retail Convenience Awards acknowledge exceptional industry efforts and contributions from retailers and the rest of the convenience-gas community in Atlantic Canada.

“I think it’s very important that those who do well in our industry are recognized; they deserve to be put up on stage with the light on them in front of everyone,” said Hammoud. “The hope becomes that those who are sitting in the audience see them on stage and want to be up there next year. That’s why we introduced the awards, and that’s our plan moving forward.”

Without further delay … the 2012 Retail Convenience Award winners are:

Industry Partner and Leader (Non-regulatory):TRA Atlantic

Industry Partner and Leader (Regulatory): Nova Scotia Gaming

Innovative Beverage: Gatorade Recover (PepsiCo Beverage)

Innovative Food: Magnum Ice Cream Bar (Unilever)

Innovative Product (Non-food or beverage): Export A Authentic Flavour (JTI-Macdonald)

Emerging Convenience Store Independent Business/Operator of the Year: Randy Johnston, Johnston Enterprises, Prince Edward Island

Corporate Convenience Store Operator of the Year: Kathy Nicholson, Needs #0192 in Baddeck, NS

Independent Convenience Store Operator of the Year: Shirley Estey, Berry Mills Convenience in Moncton, NB