Churchbridge and Yorkton Co-ops merge

hanges are coming to two area Co-ops. Yorkton Co-op and Churchbridge Co-op are amalgamating into one. The combined Co-op will have 16 locations in 10 communities.

Bruce Thurston, general manager of Yorkton Co-op, said that the amalgamation is the only way for Co-ops in Saskatchewan to expand.

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“Everything is getting bigger, larger and tougher to compete against. Both boards felt that an amalgamation between the two retails would be a positive thing, making a larger retail, a bigger trading area, more efficiencies and things like that.”

All of the locations will stay open, and the staff will stay the same, said Thurston. The amalgamation would make a difference in efficiency of operation, as well as the buying power of a larger combined operation, as well as a healthier balance sheet.

“It’s just a stronger retail in general.”

There will also be a change involving Co-op numbers. Members of the Churchbridge Co-op will add a five to the start of their numbers, for example someone with the number 1234 would now have the number 51234. Those members could now also use their numbers in Yorkton, Kamsack and Theodore, while Yorkton Co-op members will be able to use their numbers in communities served by Churchbridge Co-op, such as Langenburg, Esterhazy or Churchbridge.

It’s likely that there will be more amalgamation in the future, says Thurston, because it’s a way to respond to an increased amount of competition in the retail sector.

“Years ago, there were 400 retails, we’re down to roughly 170 retails now. Because competition is getting tougher and tougher, in ten years the average size Co-op retail is going to be $140 million. We’re not there right now, how do we get there? Because we’re so landlocked, with Prairie to the south and Gateway to the north, and of course Churchbridge to the east, in order to expand we have to amalgamate with other retails. That’s good for both retails, it provides more strength among the Co-op system as well.”

Now that both Churchbridge and Yorkton Co-op has voted in favor of the amalgamation, Thurston expects that the new entity will officially exist on Feb. 3, 2019.

The new, combined operation will require a new name, which they plan to decide via a member contest.

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