Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Financial Picture at The Weave

Look. I just want, as an employee and a worker-owner, a straight answer to a straight question. Is Weaver Street Market Co-operative currently the picture of perfect financial health. Or not?

But neither my General Manager nor my Board Chairman want to tell me. Why not?

I wrote some weeks ago asking for a copy of the Audited Accounts for 2013, to which I am entitled as an owner. And not the Reader's Digest/Ronald Reagan version with the pretty pictures that was in the Annual Report.

No. The one we owners hire an outside Accountant to produce FOR US each year. To make sure the WSM corporate office management team are telling us the truth.

Oh yeah. THOSE Audited Accounts are not produced for the corporate office. They are produced ABOUT the corporate office, and are supposed to be available to employees and owners.

Bet you didn't know that, did you?

Anyway, I asked for a copy of them, and also a copy of the financial statement for the end of the Second Quarter.

Funny thing. End of Quarter statements are normally published in the employee Market Messenger. Not this Quarter. Hmm. I wonder why not?

So, I asked. Nothing. Then I chased. Nothing. Now, I've written the nasty red 'your-electricity-will-be-cut-off-tomorrow' version.

Why the interest? Well, at our annual employee store meetings and at the Owners' Annual Meeting, all in the middle of last Fall, we were told the financial picture at The Weave was glowy glossy glittery wonderful.

Since then, Panzanella has been shut, my department margin went up by 50% and there may now be a hiring freeze in operation in my store. I sort of saw signs at Christmas. But they are now unavoidable.

And I don't want to know out of idle curiosity. Five years ago, the WSM corporate office management team got WSM into a financial mess with its 2008 expansion. It was only when The Co-operative Grocer ran an article in 2010 that we minions discovered that our General Manager had applied to the National Co-operative Grocers' Association in the summer of 2008 for a $1.5 million bail-out, because we needed rescuing from that mishandled expansion.

I do not want us to go there again. If something has gone wrong, tell us. So that we can rally around, and so that we, all of us, we can take the decisions necessary to put matters right - not just a few, secretively, behind a combination lock in Hillsborough.

Oh. And if you are an employee or owner of WSM, why don't you try to find out what's going on? Don't just leave it to me ...

[General Manager - Ruffin Slater -
Board Chair - Curt Brinkmeyer -]