The Alberta-based co-operative held its Annual General Meeting ("AGM") on Friday, March 16, 2018 to approve the payment. The Assembly of 40 delegates and 11 directors, as well as senior management, had also gathered to discuss co-operative strategy and performance.
"We are turning a corner. While we still have more work to do, the work that we have done is starting to pay off. We had a strong year reflected by customer and member satisfaction and our financial results," said Carol Kitchen, UFA President and Chief Executive Officer. "The co-operative now has the capacity to grow and invest in the business. All of our balance sheet metrics are the best they have been in over a decade."
UFA announced at its annual meeting financial revenues of $1.5 billion, $31.0 million in pre-tax earnings from continuing operations, and $47.3 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, which is a common indicator of a company's financial performance.
"UFA has not paid patronage for the previous two years to its membership. We have been driven as an organization to achieve a level of profitability that would allow us to pay a patronage dividend," said Kitchen. "The 2015 economic downturn and slow growth in 2016 impacted many Alberta businesses and UFA was no exception. In 2017, UFA grew in nearly every segment of our core businesses. This is a good news story for our business and a strong indicator that we are on the right path. The work is not done though and we will continue to look for efficiencies in our operations. The difference now is that we will also look for growth opportunities."
In 2017, the co-operative restructured and simplified its patronage dividend structure. In years when a patronage dividend is declared, including this year, 40 per cent is paid in cash, and 60 per cent is issued as member share equity. "Once you earn $30,000 in member share equity, 100 per cent of patronage dividends will be paid in cash," explained Kevin Hoppins, UFA Chairman of the Board. UFA enacted this new structure on January 1, 2018.