Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cheques in the mail for co-op members

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IT might be the best $5 investment you ever make.

Red River Co-op is mailing cheques totalling $29.1 million to 185,500 of its shareholders and they should start arriving on Monday.

The average cheque from the Winnipeg-based gasoline co-operative will be $156 and represent a rebate of nearly eight cents per litre of fuel purchased last year. Only members owed a minimum of $10 will receive cheques.

"We're pretty happy with our results with the way the economy was going and the way things were happening in the gas world," said Gregg Reiter, Red River's general manager.

Its best year was 2009, when it paid out $35.4 million, or $212 per member.

Reiter said its membership continues to grow steadily with recent figures showing 203,400 people have paid the $5 lifetime fee, up from 195,000 a year ago and just 65,479 a decade ago.

After opening up a pair of gas bars in Winnipeg in 2010, one in Charleswood and another in Transcona, Reiter said Red River doesn't have any expansion plans within the Perimeter Highway this year. It is, however, looking to expand its footprint beyond Kenora.

"We have optioned land in Dryden and we're working to finish off the purchase. If we get it done this year, we'll build (right away)," he said.

Over the past five years, Red River has paid out nearly $142 million to its members while investing in new facilities and upgrades worth more than $55 million.

"The payout to our members over the five years is almost enough to buy the Jets," Reiter said, referring to the ongoing saga of the hockey team that became the Phoenix Coyotes 15 years ago but continues to raise hopes in its former home it might be on its way back to Winnipeg.

Red River has 31 gas bar locations, including 24 in Winnipeg. The rest are in Selkirk, Stonewall, Teulon, Gimli, Ste. Agathe, Niverville and Kenora.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2011 A2

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