New Brunswick

Profits keep rolling in as Cannabis NB awaits final decision on its fate

Cannabis NB hasn't exactly been sitting idly by while it awaits a decision on its fate.

As agency heads for fifth straight profitable quarter, province still not saying whether it will privatize

The province is still mulling whether to privatize Cannabis NB, which had been a money-loser but has since shown four consecutive quarters of profits. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC file photo)

Cannabis NB hasn't exactly been sitting idly by while it awaits a decision on its fate.

The Crown corporation, which has been waiting for more than a year to hear whether its operations will be privatized, said Monday it has pulled in more than $6 million in sales in less than a month and is on track to post its fifth consecutive profitable quarter.

In an email, Cannabis NB and Alcool NB Liquor spokesperson Thomas Tremblay said Cannabis NB is "awaiting a decision from government and ... looks forward to hearing an outcome."

In the meantime, "we are very pleased with our financial results and the current financial projections," he said, noting the agency recorded $6,214,574 in sales from Dec. 28 to Jan. 24.

"This exceeds our expectations for the month and, given our strong performance in January and February, we expect to exceed $10 million in profit for the year," he said. 

Agency lost $16.2 million in first 50 weeks

The sales trends are a remarkable turnaround that saw the agency go from money-loser to profit-reaper.

In November 2019, after Cannabis NB lost $16.2 million over its first 50 weeks, the provincial government announced plans to hand recreational cannabis sales over to the private sector.

On Monday, Finance Department spokesperson Jennifer Vienneau told CBC News that the request-for-proposals process "is ongoing and we plan to have an update soon."

After the government called for proposals, eight bidders, including Canopy Growth and Loblaw Companies Ltd., threw their hat in the ring.

But within months, Cannabis NB started turning the ship around.

Less than a year later, the agency, under new CEO Patrick Parent, reported record sales and profits.

The Blaine Higgs government said a decision on whether to go through with the privatization would come by the end of 2020, and that Cannabis NB's recent success would be taken into consideration.

Patrick Parent, former president and CEO of Alcool NB Liquor (ANBL) and Cannabis NB, has taken on a new position at a Montreal-area company specializing in packaging and logistics for the food industry.  (CBC News file photo)

Former CEO takes position at Quebec company

Weeks later, Parent resigned from Cannabis NB without giving a reason and just 16 months into the top job. 

The province did not comment on his resignation, but the Finance Department said the decision-making process would now "continue into the new year."

Meanwhile, Parent has taken on a new position at a Quebec company specializing in packaging and logistics for the food industry.

He notes in his LinkedIn profile that he is now CEO of Marcan in Boucherville, Que.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie Sutherland is a web writer with CBC News based in Saint John. You can reach her at marie.sutherland@cbc.ca.

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