You're Invited to the Ordinary General Meeting Thursday, 13 November

ORDINARY GENERAL MEETING

  

THURSDAY, 13 NOVEMBER, 2014

 

Registration starts at 6.30pm

 

OGM starts at 7.00pm

 

 

Dublin Food Coop Main Hall

 

12 Newmarket Square

 

Dublin 8

 

Sorry, only paid-up members who joined before 1 October, 2014

 can be part of the consensus decision-making process at the meeting

 

Come early to do a bit of shoppin’ and enjoy food & drink at the Cafe

 

 

 

1. WELCOME / INTRODUCTIONS

 

2. APPROVAL OF AGM 2014 MINUTES

 

3. MOTION: REPLACE THE VISITOR CARD SYSTEM

This motion proposes to replace the current visitor card system with a notation on till receipts of a visitor’s status and “surcharge” (i.e. the additional cost of trading as a non-member) so as to protect our mutual status on all trading days and create a free flow of Coop members and community members into our space on Saturdays.

Proposed: Louise Carolan

Seconded: Joe Zefran

  

4. MOTION: GUIDANCE ON MEMBER FRUIT & VEG SOURCING

This motion provides guidance to members, staff, volunteers, and the Co-ordinating Body as to the preferred sourcing of fresh fruit and vegetables by Dublin Food Coop through one of three approaches: 

  • Extend the current fruit and vegetable direct sourcing initiative until the 2015 AGM to facilitate fresh fruit & veg trading on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, a diverse selection from multiple growers, and member/volunteer discounts.

  • Return to previous temporary initiative in which producer members trade fresh fruit & veg on Thursdays and staff trade on behalf of producer members on Fridays, with no discount for members/volunteers and no fruit & veg trading on Sundays.

  • Limit fresh fruit & veg trading to Saturdays by producers members with no discount for members/volunteers. 

Proposed: Joe Zefran

Seconded: Laurent Roger

 

5. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

 

MOTION 1 IN DETAIL

 

MOTION: REPLACE THE VISITOR CARD SYSTEM

 

This motion proposes to replace the current visitor card system with a notation on till receipts of a visitor’s status and “surcharge” (i.e. the

additional cost of trading as a visitor) so as to protect our mutual status on all trading days and create a free flow of Coop members

and community members into our space on Saturdays.

 

Proposed: Louise Carolan

Seconded: Joe Zefran

 

Background

During the OGM in October 2013, Motion 4 proposed that the current “visitors card” be replaced with a “share card” with immediate effect. The motion was amended and remitted to the CB for appraisal, review, modification, and implementation if that was in the interest of the Coop.

Following on from Motion 4 at the October 2013 OGM, the CB has completed a comprehensive analysis and multi-platform member consultation process of a number of options for amending our current visitor card/welcome desk system. For more on the process and member feedback, check out www.dublinfood.coop/visitorcardfuture.

The above motion, Option 2b, meets the goals of those members who wish to retain our Mutual Trading Status as well as those members, particularly producer-members who are experiencing a critical and unsustainable reduction in turnover, to remove what they see as a “policing desk” despite the best efforts of welcome desk volunteers

The Welcome Desk will become the Member Desk and move into the main hall. Till receipts will display “Visitor” status as well as the “surcharge” they paid for not receiving the member discount. Our current ICT project will facilitate the technical needs of this receipt system and will be implemented in early 2015. The visitor card system will end immediately upon the passage of this motion so as to open up the Coop while transitioning to the new system.

Dublin Food Co-op Society Limited is registered as an Industrial and Provident Society under the Registry of Friendly Societies. The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, 1893-1978 is the principal legislation relating to Dublin Food Coop. Item #24 addresses the issue of trading with non-members:

 

Exemption from income tax.

24. A registered society shall not be chargeable under Schedules C. and D. of the Income Tax Acts unless it sells to persons not members thereof, and the number of shares of the society is limited either by its rules or its practice.

In the Revenue Department’s Tax & Duty Manuals - Section 16, part 36-00-05, aka “Companies carrying on mutual business or not carrying on a business”, mutual trading is addressed:

The concept of mutual trading derives from the principle that an entity cannot trade with itself. Therefore, where classes of persons contribute to a common fund and have no dealings with any outside body, they cannot be said to have made a profit when they find they have overcharged themselves and that some portion of their contribution may be refunded. It may be that such transactions can amount to trading but any surplus resulting is not treated as a trading profit on the basis of mutual trading. 

Thus where there is identity between the contributors to the common fund and the participators in any surplus of the common fund the contributors cannot be said to derive profits from contributions made by themselves to a fund which could only be expended or returned to themselves.

To summarise the above paragraphs, this means that if the Coop trades with non-members, it no longer has a Mutual Trading Status and is no longer exempt from Corporation Tax at 12.5% of profits.In the above manual, Revenue appears to include an exception to this guidance and that is in the case of validated visitors to the place of trading. Where visitors to the establishment are validated before trading with the Coop, theoretically the Coop maintains its Mutual Trading Status and is not liable for Corporation Tax.


It is worthwhile to note that more than 75% of Dublin Food Coop’s turnover currently comes from trading with members.


Based on feedback from the consultation process, some members ideologically believe that 100% of our turnover should be from members, whereas 
others are agnostic about our mutual trading status if it keeps our doors open to anyone from the community.


Most food cooperatives around the world trade with members and non-members.
A University of Missouri-Cooperative Extension website summed it up this way: 

         Some cooperatives do business only with members, but many will do some business with non-members. A true cooperative, however, will do
         the majority of its business with members.

So by this definition, Dublin Food Coop is a true cooperative and a super majority of our turnover is derived from trading with our members.


Our consultation process, led by CB chair Louise Carolan, laid out a number of options along the ideological spectrum and encouraged all members to give 
their feedback.

Option 1a: Member only, no visitors (based on full payment of membership subscription)

Option 1b: Rename Visitor Card to a Share Card.

Option 2a: Lose Mutual Trading Status - No Visitor Card

Option 2b: Retain Mutual Trading Status - Visitor Card replaced by till receipt notice

Option 3a: Continue with Current System - €2 for 3 x visits

Option 3b: Annual Visitor Card - €1 / €2 for full year

Option 3c: €1 for €1 - Buy a Visitor Card and receive an equivalent discount at the till

Option 3d: Nominal Cost of Visitor Card added to non-member bill at the till

 

Motion 2b is a bridge between the diversity of perspectives on this issue as it allows for an open, more welcoming space and still maintains our mutual trading status at a ratio of 3 to 1. For those who prefer evidence-based decision-making, it also provides ongoing data of member vs. non-member turnover so the new till system can be evaluated.

 

The CB wishes to extend thanks and appreciation to the Welcome Desk volunteers for all their hard work over the past few years - and hopes that Welcome Desk volunteers will use their experience to ensure the smooth transition to the Member Desk in the event that the Motion is passed.

 

MOTION 2 IN DETAIL

 

MOTION: GUIDANCE ON MEMBER FRUIT & VEG SOURCING

This motion provides guidance to members, staff, volunteers, and the Co-ordinating Body as to the preferred sourcing of fresh fruit and vegetables by Dublin Food Coop through one of three approaches:

    • Extend the current fruit and vegetable direct sourcing initiative until the 2015 AGM to facilitate fresh fruit & veg trading on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, a diverse selection from multiple growers, and member/volunteer discounts. 

    • Return to previous initiative in which producer members trade fresh fruit & veg on Thursdays and staff trade on behalf of producer members on Fridays, with no discount for members/volunteers and no fruit & veg trading on Sundays. 

    • Limit fresh fruit & veg trading to Saturdays by producers members with no discount for members/volunteers. 

Proposed: Joe Zefran

Seconded: Laurent Roger

 

Background 

Dublin Food Coop is now open four days per week and is currently looking at expanding to all seven days. We continue to experience year-on-year growth in dry goods area turnover and members. This amplifies a long-standing need to provide quality, fresh, local, affordable, and organic fruits and vegetables to members and community. Producer members have traditionally traded fruit and veg on Saturdays and, to a lesser extent, Thursdays and Fridays. Many Coop staff and volunteers did not feel they possessed the technical skills to create or operate a system to source fruit & veg directly. 

Over the past five months, staff members and volunteers have been experimenting with building a new system, one that can facilitate and compliment our own growth - and the growth of Ireland’s organic sector. With a total turnover of more than €9,000, we employed a specialist (Emma Kavanagh) and offered fresh fruit and veg directly to our members for the first time in our history. We also purchased a chiller van that will be converted to run on waste veggie oil by the end of this year to start picking up products from new local growers and suppliers and delivering them to members. 

The steep learning curve, avoidable wastage, and restrictions on Saturday trading meant there were costs to this initiative. The loss on turnover for the fruit & veg initiative between June and September (€3741.30) is roughly equivalent to the cost of employing our fruit & veg specialist (€4057.56) and is offset by our overall surplus of €9,576.28 between January and September. Increased promotion and efficiencies can move this initiative towards the goal of long-term sustainability. 

More enthusiasm and improved time management could have reduced or even eliminated those losses, and going forward, increased involvement from volunteers, particularly the Products and Communications/IT working groups, will be critical to creating a sustainable system. 

Ending this initiative will mean an end to fruit and veg trading on Sundays, which is currently our strongest trading day in terms of year-to-year growth, and it is unclear if or how the trading of fruit and veg will continue on Thursdays and Fridays, in part due to competition from the Green Door Market.