Conference reviewed by The Telegram publication, St. John's.
Convenience store representatives to make complaints heard
President of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association Mike Hammoud speaks at a conference at Clovelly Golf Club in St. John's Tuesday.
Published: September 15th, 2010
Article and photograph by: Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram
Members of the fledgling Atlantic Convenience Store Association are meeting in St. John’s this week discussing contraband tobacco, debit card fees, security and other issues affecting their businesses.
They also took the opportunity to consider their collective political muscle.
The regional association had its first full year of operations in 2009. It now represents 400 members in Newfoundland and Labrador — store owners, managers, suppliers and employees with independent convenience stores, as well as in the Needs, Circle K, North Atlantic, Ultramar, Marie’s Mini Mart and QuikWay chains.
According to the association’s State of the Industry Report 2010, its first regional industry report, convenience stores in Atlantic Canada employ nearly 18,000 people, providing more than $220 million in wages.
In total, 75 per cent of all lottery tickets sold in Atlantic Canada are sold through convenience stores and 66 per cent of all tobacco. Those sales result in the collection of tax dollars, said association president Mike Hammoud.
“We’re soon going to be collecting a billion dollars a year in Atlantic Canada for governments on an annual basis,” he told the gathering of about 75 association members at Clovelly Golf Club Tuesday. “That’s what I said, billion with a ‘b’.”
Considering what convenience store businesses add to the region, Hammoud said, the association plans to be more vocal in advocating for its members over the next year.
“Overall, as small business owners, our costs are going up faster than our sales. Our wages, our utilities, our insurance costs, and the other costs have been rising sharply. We have had more regulation, more inspection and more paperwork thrust upon us,” he said.
According to the association’s report, stores were closing across the region in 2009. “In Newfoundland and Labrador we saw a drop of 6.3 per cent (to 654 stores) and while this was a drop, the level of decrease was better than the mainland, likely indicating the stronger provincial economy here in this province,” he said.
Even so, he said politicians in this province can expect to hear about the concerns of convenience store representatives.
“For the first time as a convenience store industry, we are organized,” he said. “We have created industry goals and objectives, we are being very proactive.”