More than 200 jobs will be lost because of Calgary Co-op’s decision earlier this year to switch food distributors, says the organization that lost the contract.  Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) says it will close its food distribution centre in Calgary in April 2020 because of Calgary Co-op’s move to source its food from rival Save-On-Foods.  

“We’re deeply saddened by this avoidable development,” said FCL executive vice-president Vic Huard in an email.  

“In a city that’s already experiencing significant economic challenges, Calgary Co-op’s decision has led to more jobs being lost, and more families facing challenges. By aligning itself with a competitor, Calgary Co-op has directly and negatively impacted our employees, their families and Calgary’s economy.”  

FCL says products for other co-ops in Alberta and B.C. will gradually be shipped through other FCL warehouses in Edmonton and Saskatoon.  

The Saskatoon-based co-operative says the loss of Calgary Co-op from the distribution network will result in a $400-million reduction in FCL’s revenue.

Through a co-operative system among FCL and 170 affiliated local co-ops across Western Canada, FCL returns millions of dollars in profit back to local co-ops each year to be so shared with their members.  

Over the past five years, Calgary Co-op has received $186.4 million in profit sharing from FCL, the organization says.  

“Calgary Co-op members have contacted us asking how this decision to move to a competitor happened without Calgary Co-op’s members being consulted,” Huard said.  

“That’s not something we can answer — it’s really a question they need to ask the CEO and board of the co-op that they, as members, own.”  

In a phone interview, Calgary Co-op CEO Ken Keelor said he feels for everyone affected by job losses, but added he takes issue with FCL laying the blame at the feet of Calgary Co-op.

“We have not made statements of a negative nature publicly and we’re not going to. But the statement of blaming job losses on Calgary Co-op is inaccurate and unacceptable,” Keelor said.

Keelor said Calgary Co-op, one of the largest retail co-operatives in North America, with sales of $1.3 billion in 2018, has a responsibility to its 440,000 members and 3,700 employees, and that the move to another supplier was undertaken to ensure “the long-term financial viability” of the retailer.

But Keelor said the decision wasn’t just a financial one. Co-op also felt that moving to another supplier would give the retailer more control and choice over the products offered in its stores.

“Our plan is to double the number of local products that we carry, our plan is to focus very much on suppliers in our community and strategic partners who’d like to work with us to drive Calgary’s economy,” Keelor said. “We are a retail co-operative, members come to us to shop. Their needs are evolving, and we need to evolve to reflect that.”

Source: CBC
Source: Inside Logistics
Source: Calgary Herald