AMS services not immune to recession

Less disposable income, lower purchasing volume to blame for services in the red, vice-president (operations) says

As of Feb. 28, Common Ground was $58,280.99 in debt compared to $42,619.50 in Feb. 2008.
As of Feb. 28, Common Ground was $58,280.99 in debt compared to $42,619.50 in Feb. 2008.
Photo: 

The recent economic downturn has hit many businesses financially and the AMS’ services are no exception, with Common Ground being the hardest hit by the recession, said Vice-President (Operations) Ken Wang.

“The economic climate is such that people have less disposable incomes. At Queen’s, the thing that people tend to sacrifice the most is a lunch that you would usually buy somewhere. Instead, people are packing lunches, or a coffee that you would usually buy every morning would now be every other morning. The volume that we’ve seen has decreased pretty drastically,” he said. “It’s something we didn’t foresee, and nobody foresaw the economic meltdown and it was something that surprised us a little bit.

Wang said AMS services have been working hard to bring volume back up to par.

“The impact of the economy is being felt everywhere and one of the worst places it’s being felt is Common Ground. It’s not that our margins aren’t there, or our prices aren’t there. It’s purely a volume issue. We can’t make money if we don’t sell enough bagels, that’s what it comes down to.”

Wang said according to the AMS’ last financial statements which were released at the end of February, Common Ground was further in debt than it was at that point last year.

As of Feb. 28, the coffee house was $58, 280.99 in debt compared to $42,619.50 in debt in Feb. 2008.

Common Ground was originally budgeted for a $378.42 deficit.

Wang said the loss is solely the result of a decline in product sales.

“It’s purely a volume issue. Our margins are still there. The difference between sales and the cost of buying the things that we want to sell has stayed the same. That was the goal throughout this year, we wanted to push sustainability initiatives and keep prices as least as low as they were before.”

Wang said the Tricolour Outfitters also underperformed financially this year, continuing a negative trend which has plagued the operation over the last three years.

“The same trend with Common Ground goes the same to Tricolour. Clothes, of course is one of those things you’re going to cut when you don’t have that much money. Our margins are actually better this year. We kept our costs cheaper, while doing the same amount of sales,” he said. Our margins are actually $10,000 better than last year. We’re selling things that are a cheaper price and making more money from them. At the end of the day, it’s still an unacceptable loss. We’ve figured that out now and we have numbers to back us up.”

The AMS Merchandise Service (TAMS), which operates Tricolour Outfitters and the Used Bookstore, was budgeted to have a $109,701.82 deficit by the end of the year.

Wang said although the final numbers for the year won’t be calculated until April, the service is on track to stay close to its projected losses.

“They’re at $110 or $115,000. It’s pretty on par.”

Wang said the Journal is also facing revenue shortages due to a decrease in advertising sales.

“The Journal is actually pretty bad and that’s no fault to the management either. It’s advertising, if you look, the sole revenue generator is through advertising. Last year in February, it was $300,000, this year its $254,000.”

Wang said the Journal will fall short of its $10,000 projected surplus.

“It’s probably going to be a $6,0000 to $10,000 deficit.” Wang said Destinations, which is on track to meet its budgeted $20,000 surplus, had an impressive year as a result of two new marketing strategies.

“They explored a couple of very interesting things this year. They started on cultural trips, such as Cirque du Soleil, that was very popular,” he said. “They also had the mid-term trip that was very affordable in mid-term trip standards. It went off without a hitch and everyone as far as I know was very satisfied. It’s one of our most successful projects this year.” Wang said the P&CC is a steady performer and is projected to surpass its budgeted $26,000 surplus.

“They’re going to exceed that expectation, and make between $30,000 and $40,000.”

Wang said TAPS is a surprise money maker, as it is estimated to make a profit after losing $34,000 last year.

“For TAPS, they budgeted at a modest profit of $300, we’re going to exceed that,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t know until our April numbers come out. From the past historical trends, March and April have always been friendly to TAPS. This year, the economic downturn has urged more people to go to the QP, so our numbers are up.”

For extended article, please see queensjournal.ca

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.