New Brunswick

Brian Harriman resigns as boss of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB

Brian Harriman's resignation comes amid low cannabis sales, employee layoffs, store closures and supply shortages just months after legalization.

Harriman was hired in 2014 as the first non-political CEO of NB Liquor

The government announced Brian Harriman's resignation on Feb. 22. (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC)

After managing the launch of legal cannabis sales in New Brunswick, Brian Harriman is leaving in April to become an executive of Sundial Growers, a private cannabis producer in Calgary.

He will step down as chief executive officer of NB Liquor on April 5.

Harriman's resignation was announced Friday morning. It comes as both NB Liquor and Cannabis NB face challenges.. 

NB Liquor's annual earnings peaked three years ago and have been in decline since. 

Disappointing sales

And Cannabis NB has fallen short of expectations. In the first two months of operation, it had the lowest per-resident sales in Atlantic Canada. It's seen temporary store closures, supply shortages, and 60 people laid off.

Harriman started his career at Diageo, a British multinational alcohol beverage company. He worked at Molson Coors and transferred back to Diageo before stepping into his role as the first non-political president and CEO of NB Liquor in 2014. 

In his time at the Crown corporation, Harriman oversaw the rebranding of NB Liquor, including five renovated stores and eight new builds.

Rachelle Gagnon, the chair of the corporation's board, said Harriman's tenure has been a success.

"We're talking about a new brand, a new store concept, a new channel of distribution, wine in grocery stores," said Gagnon.

But People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said with Harriman's departure, now is the time to privatize.

"This is the right moment to say the government should not be in the retail business. It is asinine that we are retailing marijuana and alcohol."

​Gagnon said the board of directors plans to use a similar process in hiring his successor.

Harriman will be chief operating officer at Sundial Growers. 

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