President & CEO Message
I’m pleased to report we had a year of strong growth at the NSLC as we completed the second year of our Five-Year Strategic Plan. At the core of this success is our strategic focus on providing exceptional and responsible customer service. We’re listening to our customers, focusing on initiatives that create a personalized shopping experience. Our customers gave us up to a 90% per cent satisfaction rate for the 2016-2017 fiscal year and up to a 91% approval rating in our retail shopping experience surveys. This includes rating us on everything from the friendliness and knowledge of our employees to how long it takes to complete a purchase at the checkout. These numbers demonstrate our employees are doing an outstanding job of ensuring our customers have a superb shopping experience and the opportunity to learn more about the products we offer.
Our success over the past year resulted in some outstanding results as we ended the fiscal year more than $5 million ahead of our net income target. Our sales increased by more than $4 million to $611.8 million and the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 0.7% as customers continue to turn to more premium products. Customer demand for quality products helped drive strong growth in the sale of Nova Scotia products as we delivered on our mandate to support local industry. The numbers show our investment in local is paying dividends to the industry across this province. Nova Scotia spirit sales, for example, grew an astonishing 130.8% and Nova Scotia ready-to-drink products increased an impressive 83.8%, thanks primarily to the cider market.
Looking across our business, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a key element of our operations. It’s the lens through which we make good business decisions. We are accountable to our customers and that means we have a duty to be a responsible retailer, to support our communities and to actively promote a sustainable future. This also includes our commitment to ensure beverage alcohol does not get into the wrong hands and partnering with organizations to promote responsible consumption. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously. Last year, we asked for ID 1.72 million times and refused sale 12,450 times through our We ID program in an effort to deliver on our responsible retailing mandate.
I’m proud of the ongoing efforts of our employees and customers to give back to their communities. They raised more than $185,000 for the IWK Health Center, $100,000 to restore and preserve wildlife habitat through the Adopt-A-Stream program, almost $53,000 for Symphony Nova Scotia, $21,000 for the United Way and more than $49,000 for registered charities across the province through our Cash Can initiative. I want to thank you all for your tremendous efforts to help your fellow Nova Scotians.
We must also be fiscally responsible and deliver a fair return to our Shareholder. We count on our employees to help us get there by putting our strategy into action. Our terrific Distribution Center team shipped out almost five million cases of beverage alcohol last year. That’s an average of 94,000 cases a week. Their top priority was to do it safely. That’s why I signed a Safety Charter earlier this year in partnership with the Workers’ Compensation Board. Providing a safe workplace and building a strong safety culture is an important part of how we live our corporate values. I’m pleased to report we have reduced workplace injuries 75% over the past five years.
We introduced two new shopping experiences last year with The Port by the NSLC and the NSLC Express as part of our new banner strategy. The Port truly is the gem in the corporate crown – a destination shopping experience designed to exceed the expectations of wine and spirit enthusiasts with premium products and featuring products made right here at home. The NSLC Express is designed especially for customer convenience with a limited selection of our top-selling 300 brands. Diversification in our retail network will help ensure we give our customers the right product at the right time in the right place.
At the NSLC, we want to be known as a customer focused organization that provides excellent service. The 2016-2017 fiscal year was a success story for the NSLC thanks to the tremendous efforts of our employees across the business. I am proud of the efforts they make every day to provide our customers with exemplary service that goes beyond the expected. I would like to extend a special thank you to our employees in the Distribution Centre who consistently ensure the products our customers want are on the shelves when they want them. You all live our values each day, engaging in meaningful and respectful relationships with our customers, ensuring they are making informed choices and responsible decisions.
I would also like to thank our customers for their support and feedback, helping us to deliver on our promises to you, and to our partners and stakeholders. Working together is critical to our continued success.