Otter Co-op is expanding with the acquisition of 25 more retail fuel sites in B.C.
The announcement was made late last week, on the same day the Aldergrove-based co-operative held its annual fundraising golf tournament in Pitt Meadows.
The new gas bars and convenience stores are located in Chilliwack, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Ashcroft, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, Princeton, Savona, Kelowna, Osoyoos, Penticton, Kamloops, Winfield, Summerland, and Rock Creek. They’re situated throughout the B.C. Interior and Lower Mainland region, where Otter Co-op already operates 11 existing stations – with five more slated for construction during the next year, said Jack Nicholson, Otter Co-op CEO.
This will allow Otter Co-op to grow its services in existing communities and expand into new areas, Nicholson confirmed during the official announcement last Thursday evening at the organization’s golf tournament’s banquet.
“We’re so proud to share this announcement… As a co-op, we’re focused on investing in our communities and bringing value to our members,” Nicholson said.
“Adding these sites to our fuel network signals our co-op’s commitment to growing and serving our communities for the long term,” he added.
For the past 12 years, Otter has been expanding and diversifying.
In addition to the operations in Aldergrove, there are eight gas stations in the Lower Mainland, plus Otter runs another feed mill in Armstrong, a couple gas bars in the Interior, and 26 liquor stores (about half in the Interior).
This announcement drew strong applause from a crowd of about 135 golfers at Golden Eagle Golf Course in Pitt Meadows on Aug. 25.
Nicholson explained how these retail fuel sites were purchased from Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) as part of its agreement to acquire 171 Husky retail fuel sites from Cenovus Energy Inc., which was announced in November 2021. Otter’s portion of that was the 25 gas bar.
“It’s a significant investment for our members, and a significant return for our members, as well, because petroleum still makes up a fairly significant portion of our bottomline,” Nicholson explained.
”We know, long term, that petroleum is going to decline. But at this time, it is currently strong, and again as I say, it’s still a very big piece of our bottomline. And, the locations are great locations for the future too, whether they are convenience stores, or pharmacies, or liquor stores. But that’s 30 years from now, because people are still going to be driving.”
Otter Co-op will officially take ownership of these additional fuel sites on Tuesday, Sept.13.
“It’s fantastic. It’s some great expansion. It’s some great bottomline returns for our members for the next several years, for sure. And it continues to fill in some of those gaps where we don’t have services yet… the big thing for folks is that then that money stays in the community. We are here in B.C., and that money stays here in B.C. It doesn’t go to Toronto or Texas.”
These fuel sites will continue to operate under the Husky brand until they are re-branded as co-op or one of co-op’s independent brands, Nicholson explained.
“My Husky Rewards” members can still earn and redeem points on all applicable transactions at Husky-branded sites, and Husky gift cards can still be redeemed at any Husky-branded sites as a form of payment, but can no longer be purchased, the CEO noted.
Co-op members will not be able to use their co-op numbers at the new locations, he explained, while they are branded as Husky.
Otter has been working on this deal for more than three years, and Nicholson said it was only a happy coincidence that the competition bureau released the sale on Thursday, the same day as their golf tournament.
“The timing was just great,” he said. “In fact, the timing was perfect.”
During last week’s golf event, Nicholson was also able to make a surprise announcement.
While giving out awards to 34 participating teams at the day-long event – which is designed for team members and vendors of Otter Co-op and Angry Otter Liquor stores – he gave the top winners from BC Lottery Corp. their first-place trophy, Apple AirPods for each team member, and a chance for the team to pick a local charity to receive $10,000 – proceeds from this year’s tournament.
The lottery team was given four charities to chose from, and they opted to give the $10K to BC Children’s Hospital, a non-profit organization that was receiving a call early this week to learn of the unexpected donation.
In past, the money raised in the Otter Co-op tournament has been used for prizing. But this year, with sponsorships and registration fees, the large number inspired them to do something for the community, Nicholson said.
“We thought it is so significant, let’s do something good with it. And again, we want to be about building community and giving back, so we thought this was a great opportunity to donate a good chunk of the golf tournament towards a charity.”
Nicholson also shared that Sept. 20 is Fuel Good Day, where 10 cents from every litre of gas pumped at their existing and new gas bars goes to Abbotsford Hospice Society, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, and Encompass Support Services Society.
“We’re expecting that to be at least a $20,000 donation, so we hope people will fuel up and fuel good,” he said.
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