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ACSA president tours PEI convenience stores


ACSA president Mike Hammoud travelled Prince Edward Island tip-to-tip in November, visiting c-stores and meeting with retailers. According to Hammoud, the PEI c-store industry is playing at the top of their game.

“We all know how competitive convenience retailing is,” says Hammoud. “And I was impressed with the effort that retailers are putting in to stay ahead of the competition.”


Hammoud says that retailers are being responsive to what their customers expect in a lot of ways, including store refreshes and new offerings, particularly in the ready-to-eat segment.


Hammoud also came away from his visits with a lot of support for expanded beverage alcohol retailing in the c-store channel: “The ACSA has been advocating for some time in PEI for broad beer and perhaps wine retailing in c-stores. It’s good to know that Island retailers still support that and we’ll continue to push for it"



10th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala recognizes industry excellence


Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 10th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at the Halifax Convention Centre in October.

Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the awards showcase product and retail excellence in five categories…President’s Excellence, Innovative Beverage, Innovative Food, Innovative Health Food or Beverage and, new this year, Innovative Product.


The President’s Excellence award is given to businesses or people who have demonstrated excellence in operations and are clearly viewed as an important and valuable part of their community. Winners of this year’s President’s Excellence award were Steve Morine, TJ's Convenience, Aldershot, NS; Janet McLeod, Wilson Fuel Co. Limited, Halifax, NS; and Dave Button, North Atlantic Petroleum, St. John's, NL.


Finalists in the Innovative Beverage category were New Diet Coke, Monster Hydro and Big 8 Pineapple (2L) with New Diet Coke selected as the category winner. Old Dutch Chips (255g bags) received the Innovative Food award with other finalists being Magnum Ice Cream Bars (Unilever) and Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme Crunchers.


The Innovative Health Food or Beverage category included finalists KIND Bars, IÖGO Smoothie (300ml) and CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar with the award going to CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar.

Finalists for the Innovative Product award were Fidget Spinners, SMART e-Lighters and the SMART Wireless Charger, with the winner being the SMART Wireless Charger.


“The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 28,300 people full and part-time at 3,300 convenience store locations across the region and generates more than a half-billion dollars in annual sales,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. "We were so pleased to have so many great companies and individuals nominated and everyone is a winner in my book.”


Election round-up


Through their advocacy work at the provincial government level, the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association informs politicians and government officials on business and economic issues impacting convenience store retailers. To be effective it certainly helps to have consistency in the governing party.


Prince Edward Island

The governing Liberals are in their third term with the next election likely in April 2019.

“In PEI we’ve had the consistency we like with governments,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “Winning a fourth term has always been a challenge for any ruling government and PEI is likely no exception. PEI polls and the recent New Brunswick election reflect a lot of volatility in the electorate, so the next election will be interesting.”


Nova Scotia

The governing Liberals are in their second term with the next election likely in 2021.

“The Liberals have had two majority governments, there’s stability in government and the next election is a ways off, so it’s a working environment we’re happy with,” says Hammoud.


New Brunswick

After one term in office, the ruling Liberals couldn’t form a minority government after November’s election and the Progressive Conservatives are now the ruling party in a minority government.

“Well, we’d certainly like to see more stability and consistency in New Brunswick,” says Hammoud. “That being said, Premier Blaine Higgs was finance minister from 2010 to 2014 in the David Alward government and he was receptive to the ACSA both then and as opposition leader before being elected as Premier.”


Newfoundland and Labrador

The governing Liberals were elected as a majority government in November 2015. The next election is tentatively scheduled for October 8, 2019 under Newfoundland and Labrador’s fixed election dates.

“The Liberals are in their first term and the government has had to deal with a lot of issues,” says Hammoud. “We’ve made headway in building relationships and it would be beneficial to our industry to see that continue.”


ACSA will meet with Atlantic Lottery Corporation


ACSA representatives will meet with Atlantic Lottery Corporation in the new year to discuss input on products offered.


“We have a great working relationship with Atlantic Lottery and we were delighted that they are open to discussing new options, possibly new products and a recalibration of compensation structure for retailers,” said Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA.


ACSA, NL government and NLC working together


A short story about staying on top of industry developments…


Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) raised the price of retail packaged beer in early October. But in the notification to retailers the NLC stated that the Brewer’s Agent Commission would not change. That meant that the retail margin would drop from 7.5 percent to 7.4.


As anyone retailing beer knows, margins are razor thin relative to the space and handling required, so every penny counts.


A retailer notified the ACSA about the issue and the ACSA sent a letter to Tom Osborne, the minister responsible for the NLC. Osborne had his people check with the NLC, who then looked into the matter and came back saying that freezing the commission was an “oversight.”


End of story…the commission has been adjusted to maintain the 7.5 percent margin.


Convenience stores raise $130,000 for Children’s Wish Foundation


The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) helped celebrate Small Business Week in Canada by presenting a cheque to the Children’s Wish Foundation for $130,000 raised during the second national

Convenience Store Day in August.


Convenience Store Day celebrates the contribution that c-stores make to their communities. As part of the celebrations, local politicians and other celebrities spend a half-hour helping to serve customers.


“Canada’s c-stores are really at the heart of their communities,” says event manager Steve Dunne. “We had more than 250 participants at 300 participating c-stores this year, and the $130,000 raised topped the $82,500 that was raised in 2017. More than $362,000 in donations have been raised since Convenience Store Day was first launched as a regional event in Atlantic Canada.”


Mary Ng, federal Minister of Small Business & Tourism, visited Q&Q Convenience Store in Markham, Ontario and released a video paying tribute to neighbourhood retailers across Canada.


"Charitable efforts, like this one, demonstrate how convenience stores are an important part of our communities in addition to being essential to Canada’s economy, said Ng.


Chris Kotsopoulos, CEO of Children’s Wish Foundation says that the funds donated have gone a long way in helping to bring a little happiness to children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.


"The average cost of a wish is $10,000 and the funds raised to date through Convenience Store Day have made many heartfelt wishes possible. The power of a wish is both profound and lasting, and its positive effects are felt not only by our wish kids, but also by their families and the larger community around them. We deeply appreciate the generosity of retailers, their staff, community leaders and the Canadian Convenience Stores Association.”


ACSA meets with Atlantic petroleum regulators


ACSA representatives met with Atlantic petroleum regulators in October at the Atlantic Petroleum Regulators Conference. The regulators meet annually to discuss regulatory issues and practices and meetings with stakeholders are part of the conference.


Issues discussed with the regulators included:


Inconsistencies in burden of evidence required for retail gasoline margin increase applications. A need for regular and consistent retail gasoline margin reviews;The impact of capital expenditures and repairs on retail petroleum operations;Accurately interpreting labour cost changes; andThe need for an economic template or model to establish retail gasoline margins in a more timely, consistent and effective manner.


“There are a lot of inconsistencies between the four Atlantic provinces in establishing retail gasoline margins,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ASCA. “We strongly believe that there should be a harmonized process, and that process should include a standardized calculation model. It’s an uphill battle trying to convince four sets of boards and administrative regulators, but it’s a high priority for the ACSA.”


Prince Edward Island is currently conducting an internal margin review while New Brunswick has indicated that it intends to conduct a review in the spring. Any reviews in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador must be initiated by a retailer and the ACSA is looking at the best way to put together quality evidence in support of any margin increase application.


New Brunswick reviews minimum wage


The New Brunswick government is undertaking a statutory minimum wage review and is canvassing stakeholders for input “on the setting of the minimum wage rate.” The provincial minimum wage is currently $11.25 per hour, which came into effect in April 2018.


With the last adjustment the minimum wage was also indexed to the New Brunswick Consumer Price Index. But the government also has the authority to adjust based on factors such as minimum wage rates and minimum wage rate increases in other jurisdictions.


New Brunswick currently has the fourth lowest minimum wage rate in Canada, but the rate is in line with rates in Atlantic Canada. Alberta’s $15.00 rate became effective in October, while a planned rate of $15.00 in Ontario on January 1st was cancelled by the new Progressive Conservative government.


British Columbia’s $12.65 rate came into effect in June, and the provincial government has plans to increase the rate to $13.85 in 2019, $14.60 in 2020, and $15.20 in 2021.


“The ACSA has supported models such as indexing the minimum wage to the CPI because it gives retailers some stability in budgeting and managing operations,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “What we don’t want are shock increases. Let’s face it, most retailers have done their budgeting and operations planning for 2019. What happens now if New Brunswick comes out with an increase that is larger than the CPI because they think they have to play catch-up to PEI, or something like that?”


The inaugural ACE show aced it


With more than 60 exhibitors and over 500 attendees, the ACSA’s first annual Atlantic Convenience Expo was a great success.


“Everyone seemed to have a great time and there was a tremendous amount of networking and business development done,” says show manager Hind Hammoud. “The results from this inaugural show have demonstrated that we’re on the right path with our goal of producing an event that meets the growing and dynamic needs of both suppliers and retailers.”


ACE 2019 will take place at the Halifax Convention Centre in downtown Halifax on Tuesday, October 22nd. Hammoud says that next year’s show will feature more exhibitors and more information sessions both before and during the show.


ACSA works with Nova Scotia government to reduce red tape


Reducing Nova Scotia’s regulatory burden, or red tape, has been a priority issue for Stephen McNeil’s government. In 2017, the government set out to reduce regulatory burden by $25-million by the end of 2018. As of March 2018, 93 percent of the target had either been fully implemented or approved for implementation.


“Along with other industry associations the ACSA was asked to be part of the red tape reduction planning,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “I was really impressed with how committed both the government and government officials were to the process.”


Hammoud says he’s heard good news stories from retailers of all sizes about changes that have made business life a little bit easier.

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convenience store retailers support crackdown on illegal tobacco sales in new brunswick

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New Brunswick convenience store retailers are supporting a crackdown on illegal tobacco sales in the province in a new partnership between the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and New Brunswick Crime Stoppers. The partnership announcement was made at the same time the association released a new study showing that illegal cigarette sales in the province remain high.“The provincial government’s new Contraband Enforcement Unit is on the right track and is starting to make an impact, but

30th August 2016

illegal cigarette sales in nova scotia too high

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Convenience store retailers in Nova Scotia say that the illegal sale of tobacco products undermines the health, safety and well-being of communities, and that illegal sales in the province are too high.In a study released by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, illegal cigarettes accounted for 20 per cent of almost 4,000 cigarette ends collected from 29 sites across Nova Scotia in June and analyzed. The presence of illegal cigarettes ranged from 6.5 per cent to 33.8 per cent at the sites

13th August 2016

retailers not celebrating 10 years of gasoline regulation

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It was ten years ago that the then government of Bernard Lord legislated petroleum price regulation in New Brunswick. Fast forward to a milestone anniversary of regulation this week and some pundits are celebrating its “success” and how consumers have benefited from lower gas prices.Well, gasoline retailers in the province aren’t celebrating. And while the sky may not have fallen as critics of regulation were warning 10 years ago, the economic picture is far from rosy.Most consumers don’

22nd April 2016

atlantic c-store news april 2016

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Budget updates…All of the Atlantic provincial budgets have been tabled. It’s tough times fiscally for all of the provinces and there’s a mix of good news and not so good news for the c-store industry coming from the budgets.First off was New Brunswick. The good news is that the government announced that it was going ahead with the creation of a dedicated Contraband Enforcement Unit to crack down on the illegal tobacco trade in the province. Bad news is that the tobacco tax was raised immed

20th December 2015

atlantic c-store news december 2015

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Retail excellence honoured at the 2015 Retail Convenience Awards GalaAtlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 7th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax in early November.Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the awards recognize excellence in six categories: President’s Excellence, Emerging Excellence, Innovative Beverage, Innovative Food, Innovative Product, and I

5th November 2015

best in atlantic canada’s convenience store industry celebrated

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Halifax, November 5, 2015: Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 7th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax last night.The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 28,300 people full and part-time at 3,300 convenience store locations across the region, and generates more than a half-billion dollars in annual sales.Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery

29th October 2015

more than 20 per cent of cigarette butts found at four ns high schools illegal product

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HALIFAX, October 29, 2015: A new study released by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association found that illegal cigarettes accounted for 22.5 per cent of the samples of cigarette ends collected at popular smoking areas near four Nova Scotia high schools.“The provincial government banned flavoured tobacco because they were concerned about underage smokers,” says Warren Maynard, of CST Ultramar, of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Yet, it appears the problem of organized crime targeting underage you

6th October 2015

is the provincial government losing millions in tobacco taxes to illegal cigarette sales

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New study shows illegal cigarette sales should be a concern to everyoneSt. John’s, NL [October 6, 2015]: New research commissioned by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association shows that illegal cigarettes could account for more than 10 per cent of all cigarettes smoked in Newfoundland.“This is the second year that we’ve studied the prevalence of illegal cigarettes in Newfoundland and both studies indicate that it’s likely more than 10 per cent,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the a

15th September 2015

acsa – september 2015 newsletter

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Atlantic c-stores recognized as important part of communityOn August 26, the ACSA held its fourth annual Convenience Store Day in the four Atlantic provinces. As part of the annual event, more than 125 community leaders and politicians volunteered for 20-minute shifts at 49 plus convenience stores throughout the region, raising money for local charity.  This year’s event raised over $50,000 for Crime Stoppers Nova Scotia and Children’s Wish Foundation NFLD, NB, NS and PEI.Much of the ne

21st August 2015

illegal cigarette sales in new brunswick remain high

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Presence of illegal cigarettes at 11 high schools tested averages 26 percentNew Brunswickers are busy buying illegal cigarettes according to research findings released today by the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.Illegal cigarettes accounted for 24 percent of almost 4,000 cigarette ends collected from 27 sites across New Brunswick in late May/early June and analyzed. The presence of illegal cigarettes averaged 26 percent at 11 high school sites tested.Overall findings are considered to b

7th May 2015

gas pump climate change warning labels

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The ACSA submitted the following letter to Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc in response to their recent resolution to encourage the use of point-of-sale gas pump climate change warning labels.May 7, 2015Mayor George LeBlancCity of Moncton655 Main StreetMoncton, NB E1C 1E8Via email: [email protected]: Gas pump climate change warning labelsDear Mayor LeBlanc:The Atlantic Convenience Stores Association is a not-for-profit organization representing the business interests of Atlantic

26th April 2015

n.s. government’s flavoured tobacco ban an attack on small business owners

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Barely two weeks’ notice before major ban takes effectHALIFAX [May 26, 2015] – Hundreds of hard working convenience store owners across the province will suffer significant losses at the hand of the provincial government due to its hostile approach to new legislation.Giving convenience store owners only 14 days to clear inventory before a major flavoured tobacco ban takes effect at the end of May amounts to an extreme penalty against small business owners by a government trying to score

22nd April 2015

nova scotia flavoured tobacco ban start date unreasonable, costly to industry

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40 days simply not long enough to clear wholesale and retail productHALIFAX – [April 22, 2015]: The timing of plans by the Government of Nova Scotia to ban most flavoured tobacco products starting May 31st is unreasonable say convenience store retailers.“I have flavoured tobacco inventory that will take at least six months to clear,” says Tony Diab, a Dartmouth convenience store owner. “That’s the way the business works. The government wants to start its ban in 40 days. That’s going

16th March 2015

acsa extremely disappointed with nova scotia tobacco access act amendments

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The Nova Scotia government has tabled amendments to the Tobacco Access Act that will ban almost all flavoured tobacco products. Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, says that there is no basis in reality for doing this.“The big issue was the candy-flavoured tobacco products that were clearly targeting minors,” says Hammoud. “But then they take a sledgehammer to the issue and ban virtually everything that is flavoured, including menthol.”“There is no e

23rd January 2015

retailer profile: margie boone

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Margie Boone has been a part of the convenience store industry all her life, beginning at the young age of 13 working in small mom & pop shops. Over the last five decades, Margie has steadily advanced her career to taking on management of various Ultramar sites. These days Margie can be found managing Kenmount Corner Store in St. John’s, Newfoundland.What is Margie’s secret to a successful and happy career in the convenience store industry?“It’s the people” says Margie. “One of t

20th November 2014

atlantic c-store news – november 2014

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Atlantic Retailers Participate in National Lobby DayAtlantic retailers including: Ramona Roberts, Terry Moore, Warren Maynard, Craig Pardy, Dennis Kim and Nick Pitre joined retailers from across Canada in Ottawa on September 16 as part of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association’s National Lobby Day. The retailers met with their regional members of parliament from all parties to create awareness of issues impacting the c-store industry.The Atlantic retailers were consistent in their messagi

6th November 2014

best in atlantic canada’s convenience store industry celebrated at 2014 retail convenience award

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Best in Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry celebrated at 2014 Retail Convenience Awards[Halifax, November 6, 2014] Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association’s 6th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax last night. The convenience store industry in Atlantic Canada employs an estimated 25,900 people full- and part-time at 3,012 convenience store locations across the

10th April 2014

atlantic c-store news – april 2014

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Holding the line on tobacco taxesFiscal 2014 – 2015 budgets have been tabled in the Atlantic provinces and the ACSA is pleased that three of the four provinces held the line on increasing tobacco taxes.“There is reliable evidence that increasing tobacco taxes without strengthening penalties for illegally selling tobacco has little effect on reducing smoking and increases black market demand for illegal smokes,” says ACSA president Mike Hammoud. “You’re just shifting demand underground

22nd January 2014

atlantic c-store news – january 2014

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ACSA gears up for pre-budget consultationsEach year, provincial finance ministers hold pre-budget consultations. The ACSA has always actively participated in this process, meeting personally with finance ministers, attending public consultation meetings, and submitting briefs.This year will be no different and the ACSA will be focusing on several issues, including: a) the negative impact of increasing tobacco taxes to try and increase government revenue; b) cracking down on contraband tobacco as