By Yvonne Pflieger

What a great turn-out we had at the Annual General Meeting last Tuesday, November 20. Thank you to everyone who came and took the time out to hear about 2017-18 which was a rather eventful year for the Manly Food Co-Op.

Annual General MeetingChairwoman Sarah Weate and Secretary Yvonne Pflieger led through the evening. We started off with a thank you to our members, volunteers and staff for their support during the last year. There were also positive words about the previous’ board efforts and we thanked Tyler Lake who had led the Co-Op through the crowdfunding campaign last year and was the chairman until he stepped down earlier this year due to family commitments.

We then reviewed the last year, talking about some of the highlights and lowlights:

  • July 2017: Extraordinary General Meeting
  • August 2017: (Successful) Crowd Funding Campaign
  • Sept. 2017: Donor Appreciation Night
  • Oct. 2017: Major theft series detected and dealt with
  • Nov. 2017: Christmas Party
  • Dec. 2017: Used Jar Exchange introduced
  • Dec. 2017: Christmas Raffle
  • January 2018: Removed credit card fees
  • March 2018: New Team
  • April 2018: Staple Bread
  • May 2018: Ocean Friendly Certification
  • June 2018: Coop Conference
  • June 2018: New 3-door F&V fridge
  • June 2018: Bulk Milk (we were the first in Sydney offering package-free milk)

From a marketing perspective we have seen an increase across all communication channels, reaching more people and raising awareness about planet-friendly living.

Marketing Highlights

Some of the marketing highlights were:

  • Manly Daily coverage during the crowdfunding campaign
  • COVERED. Magazine 2-page editorial
  • Mail Drop of our brochures in the Manly CBD

From a community perspective, we did a fair bit, but want this to be a major focus for next year:


Reducing the waste we create even further is one of the key areas the board have been focusing on and here are some of the new products we introduced:

Waste Reduction

Sarah then took everyone through the financials. The Co-Op had a turnover of about $500,000, slightly up from the 2 previous years. In terms of Profit & Loss, the Co-Op made a Net Profit of $45k (with Fundraiser) or -$1k (without the fundraiser). What influenced these numbers were quite high Wastage & Stock Write-Offs which have come down over the year with new processes put in place to reduce the likelihood of infestations. Our Eftpos and credit card charge income dropped and the cost for the credit card facility increased as we removed the credit card fees and encouraged card payment as cash handling comes with a significant cost for us. The cost for Wages and Salaries dropped as we fine-tuned opening hours, internal processes and employed staff as casuals.

Our balance sheet shows that our assets are up, liabilities are down, equity is up and our liquidity ratio has more than doubled to a healthy 1.86, a good position to be in.

Balance Sheet

We currently have over 640 members and stock 750 different products from over 70 suppliers. Sarah mentioned though that there are only 7 members who have been spending more than $100 on average per week and another 19 who have been spending an average of $50 per week over the financial year. We need more members who spend more regularly with us and make the Co-Op their number 1 grocery shopping destination to secure our long term success.

Looking ahead, we talked about our upcoming move. We have a Volunteer Project Team in place with expert input from UI Building Studio architects and Forward Thinking Design on a pro bono basis. A big thank you! We have worked out a detailed project plan and the focus to date has been on sorting through the admin with council and discussing the best shop layout options. Everything is on track for a move in the first week of January. If you are keen to get involved, please reach out. We will need every single helping hand! To reiterate, the move is an opportunity to further optimize our processes, employ more staff, re-fresh our brand, raise awareness about zero waste and sustainable living and to really set up our Co-Op for success for many more years to come.

We will continue to reduce our waste as much as possible by focusing on:

  • Finding a new supplier who will refill our beauty and cleaning liquid containers,
  • The introduction of a Beauty Bar,
  • Package-free non-dairy milk alternatives,
  • Package-free cheese (dairy and vegan) coming soon,
  • More reusable baby / toddler products,
  • Continuing to work with suppliers and other co-ops to reduce unnecessary packaging at the source.

Sarah proposed reduced membership fees from January 2019 (from $45 to $15 per year), increase the member discount to 15% instead of 10% and increase prices slightly which would not be noticed by members due to the above changes. We believe that a lower membership fee will increase our membership base.

The biggest focus will be on building our community by providing more workshops, events and samplings in- and out-of-store, increased volunteer engagement and opportunities, better accessibility at the new location and partnerships with council, local businesses, organizations. We emphasized that the Co-Op is YOUR Co-Op: Create your own role as it fits you and play your part. 🙂

The last point on the agenda was the election of the new board members. Joining the current board consisting of Colin Hutton, Keelah Lam, Michael Kaluzinsky, Sarah Weate and Yvonne Pflieger are Cathy Griffin, Emmanuelle Convert, Jay Richardson and Meredith Gee. All attendees voted in favour of these four joining the board and we are looking forward to working together for the future of our Co-Op.

We ended the Annual General Meeting with questions from the audience and further conversations over a glass of wine.

We will share the full financial report with our members soon. Stay tuned!