March 28, 2024

The Mid Island Co-op Cranberry gas bar in south Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Re-investing in the communities they serve is what Mid Island Co-op is all about.

Established in Nanaimo in 1959, Mid Island Co-op is celebrating its 65th year in business in 2024. The operation now includes 16 gas bars and convenience stores stretching from the Cowichan Valley to Port Hardy, including Gabriola and Saltspring Island, 17 liquor stores from Duncan to Sayward, and 7 commercial fuel card locks.

Ian Anderson is CEO of Mid Island Co-op

“Being a part of Mid Island Co-op has been very rewarding,” says CEO Ian Anderson. “In my 25 years with the Co-op, the business model has remained the same—at the end of the year, we share the profits with our members,” he adds. “We have 75,000 members across the area, and every May we send out equity cheques to our members. It’s great to be part of an organization that contributes to sustaining our communities.”

Head office is located on Bowen Road in Nanaimo, and Anderson leads a senior leadership team that oversees 350 employees and team members.

“2023 was the busiest in the 10 years I’ve been with Mid Island Co-op, and we’ve posted over $280 million in revenue,” he notes, adding that is a 113 percent increase in revenue from $130 million in 2013.

“We kind of quietly do that, as we don’t spend a lot of time drawing attention to our achievements. People often say to me ‘Mid island Co-op is that big? I had no idea’.”

There are seven independent Co-ops on Vancouver Island, and Mid Island and Peninsula are the two largest. A new Co-op app has been introduced across Western Canada, upon which all members can put their various membership numbers on.

Mid Island Co-op is also part of the Co-operative Retail System across Western Canada, which also includes western Ontario and the Territories.

“The new app helps us stay competitive in the market,” he notes.

Nanaimo Community Garden receives funding from Mid Island Co-op

Making strategic change has been integral to the success of Mid Island Co-op. “In 2017 we started our major diversification from gas bars and convenience stores into other commodities,” he recalls. “Since then, Mid Island Liquor has become the largest chain of privately owned liquor stores on Vancouver Island. We’ve had multiple acquisitions since that time, and our liquor operations team has done a fabulous job of building that out.

“We just added two more liquor stores in Campbell River in the last couple of years, and one in Courtenay in December.”

They are always exploring other opportunities.

“We got back into commercial fuels in 2023, and we are always looking for other services that could be opportunities for growth for Mid Island Co-op,” he says. “We’re happy to talk to people with other types of business that serve local communities that could possibly be a good fit”

Mid Island Co-op makes numerous donations to worthy causes in the region

Mid Island Co-op is proud of its contributions throughout the communities it serves.

“Our community involvement is a key to our success,” he says. “We recognize our community involvement consistently by the many donations we make. I also attribute the success of Mid Island Co-op to our people. We have excellent leaders and team members, as well as the loyalty of local member owners who continue to support us throughout the years.

“We truly are the local shopping experience. If you want to shop local, Mid Island Co-op is about as local as it gets.”



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