Over the past few weeks, the Co-op’s senior management team has met with our colleagues throughout the organization for a series of meetings we like to call “listening sessions.” I’ve had similar listening sessions with Co-op members and shoppers since I started as the organization’s new General Manager earlier this fall. Part of my mission is to tap the collective genius of the people around me, so these sessions are a wonderful opportunity for me. I appreciate every chance I get to listen to, and learn from, my fellow Co-op members, shoppers, and employees.
After our listening sessions, I followed up with staff to give a straightforward assessment of where we are as we finish out the year. I’d like to share that with you, too. It’s a challenging time, but like all challenging times, this is temporary and nothing we can’t handle together.
For 2016, the Co-op will end the year in the red. That can sound scary, I know. “In the red” is often used in a way that can need clarification. It simply means income has fallen behind expenses. It’s time to get back on track.
How did we get here? The single largest contributor was overly optimistic sales expectations for 2016. Our projections were just too lofty. When you reach high, sometimes you overreach.
The good news is that we’ve worked with department managers and store managers to set sales forecasts for 2017 that are far more realistic. Then we adjusted expenses to be in line with sales.
The end result? Things look really positive and exciting for the year ahead. No one can predict the future, but we should be in a good position to end 2017 not only in the black, but with a small surplus.
For 2017, we’re also excited about investments in the business. As these rollout throughout the year, our members and shoppers will see changes at our Co-op Market; new prepared foods; innovative technology to make our systems more up-to-date, efficient, and customer-focused; and a renewed emphasis on enhancing customer experience throughout our stores. This is the Co-op’s collective genius at work. Employees throughout the organization are working together on these projects, building a strong Co-op for the members, shoppers, and communities we serve.
Going forward, I want you to know I reassured our staff that among our primary goals is to remain a strong business that continues to be a great place to work. As you may have heard or read, many businesses in the grocery industry are also adjusting to new challenges and competition. Our Co-op is fortunate because we have successfully weathered times like this before. All of us coming through it together is, as always, our top priority and what makes us stronger and better in the end.
Thank you all for your trust and patience here. As always, please reach out to me anytime with your ideas or questions. My door is always open to you.