An Update From the Co-op General Manager

Actions We’re Taking to Help Keep Our Employees and Shoppers Safe

Last week I wrote to you about several initiatives we are looking to bring to the community. One such initiative is Curbside pickup. The other is flexibility for member discount days.

Curbside Pickup – an Update

Last week, I said, it is not a question of if we will bring the service to the community but rather when. Furthermore, my commitment to the leadership team and our community is that the Co-op will not roll out a new service if we cannot live up to the standards the community has come to expect from the Co-op. There are still the proverbial i’s and t’s to dot and cross. To that end, we were getting close.

I am pleased to inform you Curbside pickup to arrive at the Hanover Co-op store this Friday, April 3, 2020, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

I want to thank our Operations, Merchandising, Finance, and IT teams for all their hard work in developing a sustainable process for this program. Their focus and attention to the details has been quite impressive. Here is how we will begin:

  • We will pilot this service in the Hanover store this Friday, April 3rd.
  • We will begin with a focused group of up to 10 member shoppers who have specifically expressed an interest in the service.
  • We will offer 20 – 30 items, focused primarily on the essentials and readily available.
  • We will roll out the service to a larger group of member shoppers beginning April 9th. This will enable us to analyze feedback to the effectiveness of serving the pilot group and to allocate sufficient employee resources to this initiative.
  • Initially, the service will be available every Thursday through Saturday. Call in for orders between 8 am and noon. Pickups will be available in 2-hour time slots from 10 am through 4 pm. This will ensure our ability to manage our inventory availability. The service will be expanded to other days, and other stores, as we are able to allocate additional employee resources.
  • We will start a membership focused wait list on April 6 The wait list will be developed on a first-come, first-served basis. Specifically, those interested in the service may sign up on our website with their preferred email address listed. Once on the website the link to sign up is http://coopfoodstore.coop/groceries2go
  • This step is required for several reasons: a) the software system we are using needs a proper email address to associate the order with the buyer and b) an email will provide date and time stamping to ensure all interested parties join the wait list in the order in which they applied. For non-member shoppers interested in this service, please consider becoming a member. Not a member? Here is how to become one.

Bottom line: Curbside pickup is coming! Barring any unforeseen circumstances, look for the pilot to launch in Hanoverby the end of this week.

Discount Day Changes

Great news here. At member request, we have made our popular Discount Day program much more flexible. Here is the latest:

  • Beginning April 1, we will transition from two Discount Days per month to a coupon that will be loaded on all member accounts
  • The coupon can be used one day per month, on any single day of your choosing.
  • As before, members will receive 10 percent off their order.

With this initiative, my appreciation goes to our Merchandising, Outreach, IT, and Operations teams for spearheading this change. The timing could not be better. Members can choose their own Discount Day and use the discount whenever and however they want. This will encourage social distancing, since members will no longer have to crowd the stores on the 15thand 16th.

Your Co-op Needs Your Help! Please Vote to Approve Critical Upgrades

Your Lebanon store has been in operation for 23 years. The mechanical equipment, specifically refrigeration units and cases, are the original units installed when we occupied the store. Despite maintenance, they are in desperate need of replacement. Yes, we could continue to repair each item, as it fails, but just like our repairs to our homes, the day comes when the cost and inconvenience of repairs exceeds the cost new equipment. That day is rapidly approaching at the Lebanon store. Our teams have conducted a very thorough top to bottom review of the work that needs to be done. After multiple reviews, the leadership team has scaled back the work to that which is absolutely critical, that is, what must be down over the next two years. The Board is fully aware of these reviews having taken part in the process themselves.

The equipment is expensive. The Co-op does not have the cash on hand to pay for the entire project. As I wrote last week, the retail food industry, Co-op’s in particular, are not high margin, money-making machines. Therefore, we propose to borrow the amount required. The Board supports this request and has endorsed it by bringing it to a vote of the membership as required by our By-Laws. We seek to borrow a sum not to exceed $3.6 million and to have a $1.0 million line of credit in the event of unexpected circumstances. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Rates have declined by 0.75% from the time we first engaged the Board in these discussions. Currently, the financing rate is approximately 2.75% vs. 3.51% earlier.

What can you do?  We need you to help us so we can help you. We respectfully request that you vote YES for this loan.  At the end of the day, if our largest food store’s refrigeration units fail, we will lose the ability to provide food to the community, from either in store delivery or curbside pickup. This is the most critical need the Co-op faces today.

You can learn more and vote online at our voting site, https://www.mycoopvote.com. Voting begins at 7 a.m. on April 1 and goes until 9 p.m. on April 30.

Paul C Guidone, CFA
Interim General Manager

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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed Interim General Manager by the Co-op Board effective March 8th. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.
Paul Guidone

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