Following a record-breaking year the UFA Co-operative (United Farmers of Alberta) is growing and expanding.
The organization, which was built for farmers by farmers, was founded in 1909 and today has grown to more than 120,000 member-owners and its network comprises 113 bulk fuel and Cardlock Petroleum locations, 34 Farm & Ranch Supply stores and a support office located in Calgary.
Recently it announced it is building a new store and Cardlock in Red Deer and it has launched its new e-commerce marketplace.
“Red Deer is a vibrant and strong market, and we are pleased to be able to enhance our service offering to its residents with the improvements we are making,” said Glenn Bingley, Vice President, AgriBusiness and Supply Chain, UFA. “The investment UFA is making reflects our commitment to members and customers in the region and aligns with our aim to be the most trusted supplier of products and services in the markets we serve.”
“UFA has a responsibility to support the farmers and ranchers who feed the world. It’s a responsibility our co-operative takes seriously, and (this) ultimately is an investment in agriculture, which is critical, not only to our members’ and customers’ success but to economic recovery,” said Scott Bolton, President and CEO, UFA.
“UFA is in an ideal position to shine a spotlight on the agriculture sector and its importance, not only to Canada but to the world. Our members and customers are the driving force behind western Canadian food production, and it is strong, diverse, and poised for significant growth. The opportunity in front of us is why we are making considerable investments that enable farmers and ranchers to ensure food security on a global scale. We know the prairies are a place of abundance and the truth is the economic success of everyone in the Canadian food system depends on the success of our farmers and ranchers.”
Bingley said the current Farm Store in Red Deer will be replaced by a new one.
“Red Deer is a major market. A really strong farming and ranching community for UFA. Ultimately we made the decision to relocate to a better location. As you know in retail, it’s location, location, location. We’re moving into what we feel is a much better location right beside a nice anchor retailer with Costco. So a really good retail traffic area,” he said.
“And much better access we believe too for not only our existing members and customers but it’s a better location also for other members of the community in Red Deer. Better access off of Highway 2 both north and south and good access from the 2A on the west. Overall it’s a better location. Our old location served us well but the store is over 20 years old. The area is kind of more of an industrial area.
“We just think that when we look at our overall Red Deer market for us being a major market with a strong farming and ranching community, we have not really optimized our market potential in Red Deer. We believe fundamentally moving to a better location will help us do that. And the new store gives us an opportunity to really bring new products and services to our members and the community and we’re very confident we’re going to do that.”
The new 16,000-square-foot Farm Store, which is scheduled to open in late fall of 2024, will have an expansive yard, with a chem shed located on site and for easy pick up, there will also be a three-bay drive-through warehouse. The future Cardlock will feature state-of-the-art high-speed pumps with clear and dyed fuel, wide lanes, DEF, and Dieselex® Gold, UFA’s exclusive premium diesel offering.
“One of the strengths of our co-operative is we have a really broad product offering, a very diverse product offering. So for us it just made sense and the primary focus was relocating the Farm Store but while we’re doing that we have a very strong Cardlock network throughout Alberta and this gives us an opportunity for our members for convenience to also put a Cardlock on site. It was a natural,” said Bingley.
UFA is also expanding its Cardlock locations in Saskatchewan with new ones opening in Weyburn and Yorkton this month.
“That’s kind of the first new sites in our petroleum business expansion into Saskatchewan. We’re really excited about those openings,” said Bingley.
“For us, it’s expanding our petroleum business into key markets in central and eastern Saskatchewan. This is part of a multi-year strategy to build out additional petroleum locations.”
Bingley said UFA may look in the future to expanding its Farm Stores into Saskatchewan as well.
“With our Farm Stores we’re continuing to focus on really growing same store sales, really organic growth, continuous improvements in our product assortment and offerings. And we’re really excited to launch our MarketPLACE platform which is a natural extension of our e-commerce business that we started two years ago,” he said.
UFA MarketPLACE provides a larger selection of products for customers/members to purchase online, which are provided by an assortment of vendors through UFA.com. These trusted vendors handle fulfillment and customer service for the items they sell.
Last year, UFA enhanced its e-commerce offering with BOPA (buy online, pick up anywhere). That gave customers the ability to order inventory not only at the store of their choice but also from its distribution centre.
“MarketPLACE is an online shop and it gives our members and customers access to really that endless aisle to provide more selection, more vendors, more brands and more products for what they’re looking for and what they need. And the great part about it is we’re working with existing vendors that support us today in our Farm & Ranch stores in our current e-commerce offering. We’re getting more access to more of the products that they have available – increasing that online assortment,” explained Bingley.
“We’re really excited about it. We think it’s going to be a great new business opportunity for us and it’s really going to complement everything that we’re doing today in our brick and mortar stores.”