AMS services come up short

TAMS projected to lose $123,428 in 2007-08

Tricolour Outfitters is projected to lose more than $100,000 this year, says AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning. Overall, AMS services are expected to post a loss of $48,412.
Tricolour Outfitters is projected to lose more than $100,000 this year, says AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning. Overall, AMS services are expected to post a loss of $48,412.
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Harrison Smith and Joshua Chan
AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning says he can’t say Tricolour Outfitters is financially viable until it breaks even.
AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning says he can’t say Tricolour Outfitters is financially viable until it breaks even.
Photo: 

The AMS Merchandise Service (TAMS), which operates Tricolour Outfitters and the Used Bookstore, is projecting a loss of $123,428 this year.

Last week, incoming AMS executive Radcliffe-Wang-St.Clair said Tricolour Outfitters will remain open next year, despite a campaign promise to close the service. Radcliffe told the Journal she and her executive team would have had to prepare a report for the AMS Board of Directors two weeks after they were elected in order to close the service.

AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning said the AMS doesn’t operate services to make money.

The AMS services were budgeted to lose $33,697 overall this year. A revised budget projects a loss of $48,412, Manning said.

He said the projected deficit for the AMS operating fund—the services, commissions, offices and assembly—was $74,930 and has been revised to $90,130.

Last year the services lost $96,855, after projecting a loss of $63,469.

“I think overall it’s been a very strong year for the services,” Manning said. “We saw improvements over last year.”

At the AMS Annual General Meeting on March 11, Manning said one of the highlights in the services this year was the “semi-revitalization” of Tricolour Outfitters.

This year TAMS was budgeted to lose $79,000—$44,000 less than the revised projection. Manning said reivsed projections were done for the March 11 Annual Corporate General Meeting.

“This was the first year that the Tricolour Outfitters was really able to offer a clean, professional, inviting and relevant source to students,” Manning said, adding that the AMS did a major renovation this summer. “Last year if someone walked into the Tricolour it was more of a student hangout; this year if you walk in, it feels like a professional merchandise store.”

Manning said if the AMS hits its target, TAMS will do better than 2006-07, when it lost $173,335.31. Last year Tricolour Outfitters lost $93,752.94 and the Used Bookstore—then the Greenroom—lost $79,582.37.

But this year Tricolour Outfitters is projected to lose $101,597.77, while the Used Bookstore is only projected to lose $21,831.16.

“We as an organization haven’t quite developed an expertise in retail operations yet,” Manning said, adding that Tricolour Outfitters is the biggest problem.

“I think that we’ve finally given it a chance. But obviously it’s hard to say. … I couldn’t say that it’s financially viable until it does break even.”

In 2005-06 the AMS started its “retail renaissance” project, Manning said, when it opened Destinations and the Tricolour Market. That year, AMS services lost $85,375, after gaining $142,517 in 2004-05.

“With two new services it’s taken awhile to adjust financial structure,” Manning said. “We’re so close to being in balance it’s pretty exceptional.”

AMS Retail Director Alvin Tedjo said TAMS has made a significant turnaround in the past year. He said numbers from the March 11 revised projections are probably already inaccurate.

“The numbers that we’re probably going to end up with by the end of the year are going to be a lot better than the ones we were projecting two months ago.”

He said Tricolour Outfitters has increased its clothing sales by more than 200 per cent since last year, likely because of an increase in the quality of its merchandise.

“We basically tried to spend the whole year making up for the mistakes.”

Before this year, Tricolour Outfitters—which used to be The Tricolour Market—sold dollar store items and kitchenware, Tedjo said.

“You can almost not look at the previous two years because of how bad it was,” Tedjo said. “The numbers because of previous years have kind of brought down our year this year.”

He said next year will be the test of the store’s potential.

TAMS manager Julia Scott said the Tricolour Outfitters’ biggest success this year was that it increased revenue quite a bit.

“We sort of struggled with just finding a balance between getting the right products in, pricing things properly and then getting the word out to the majority of students.”

The AMS budgeted to make $11,556 for Destinations this year. The service is now projected to bring in $25,967.

“Over the past couple of years, Destinations has dramatically expanded,” Manning said. Last year the service added charter trips to sports games and this year they added concert charters. Destinations also offered a reading week trip to the Dominican Republic this year.

This year TAPS is projected to lose $26,938, revised from an earlier projected $31,568.

“They’re still paying off the renovation that happened at Alfie’s five years ago,” Manning said, adding that, next year, TAPS will pay $30,000 less in depreciation expenses.

“Right off the bat they will be $30,000 ahead of this year. … Next year I would very much expect TAPS to break even. It might even do a bit better than projected this year as well.”

Last year TAPS made $971, but this year’s expenses were affected by unexpected repairs and maintenance costs.

Manning said the AMS focused on CFRC this year. The radio station was expected to lose $28,441, but revised projections brought the loss to $16,911.

When the CFRC became an AMS service in 2003-04, it stopped receiving an annual $48,000 grant from the University.

‘We’re still trying to find a financial model that works for CFRC without the grant,” Manning said. He said CFRC is projected to lose less money than budgeted because of its funding drive, which brought in about $20,500 this year.

Manning said Common Ground, projected to make $17,209.00, continued to do well this year. He said pre-made sandwiches have been one of its biggest successes. The P&CC has also been a success story, he said, with a projected profit of $19,024.

Manning said he’s also pleased with the improvements the AMS made to Queen’s TV this year.

“This year Queen’s TV changed from a bit of a fledgling video club to a high-quality student news-oriented TV show,” Manning said.

AMS Media Services Director Gillian Wheatley said Queen’s TV changed from monthly to weekly broadcasts this year.

“We had double the number of volunteers,” she said. “We also went from being half news and half sketch comedy to a fully news show.”

The service, which made $331 last year, is projected to lose $2,994.

The Journal was budgeted to make $1,016 but revised projections say it will lose $11,653.

“Due to an oversight on the part of the SGPS, the graduate student portion of the Journal’s student fee was not collected, resulting in approximately $10,000 less in revenues,” Manning said in an e-mail to the Journal.

The SGPS is holding a referendum today to vote on whether to reinstate the Journal’s $3.50 fee. Manning said the revised projection is also a result of the new website, staff internships and a decrease in advertising revenue.

Manning said the AMS needs to keep an eye on Walkhome next year. Originally budgeted to lose $19,858, Walkhome’s now projected to lose $11,952.

AMS Food and Safety Director Laura Mouck said both expenses and revenue for Walkhome have been unexpected this year.

“Currently our operating expenses are higher than we budgeted for, but our revenue is higher than we budgeted for,” Mouck said, adding that extra money came in from the work study grant program.

Manning said the rise in minimum wage has affected Walkhome, because most of the service’s expenses come from wages.

“We’ve been hesitant to raise the $13.22 Walkhome student fee because it already is one of our largest student fees,” Manning said. He said the AMS approached Dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker to ask for an increase in the annual grant his office gives the service.

“We do need to make sure that it is funded in a financially sustainable way.”

The AMS budgeted to receive $40,000 from the University for Walkhome this year. To date they’ve received $43,500.

The Foodbank, which was budgeted to break even, is now projected to make $5,019.

Mouck said the service started a new program with Sodexho that allowed it to set up donation boxes at all of the company’s retail outlets. The service also received more money from grants and donations than expected.

“The Board of Directors will decide what to do and most likely [the money] will stay within the Foodbank service.”

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