New Brunswick

Cannabis NB loses $2.2M in 1st quarter of fiscal year

Cannabis NB says it lost $2.2 million in the first quarter of its current fiscal year, adding to losses piled up last year as sales by the agency continue to under-perform expectations.

Sales averaged $700K per week during latest quarter, well below $1.9M projection

Sales online and at Cannabis NB stores totalled $9.1 million during the 13 weeks between April 1 and June 30. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Cannabis NB says it lost $2.2 million in the first quarter of its current fiscal year, adding to losses piled up last year as sales by the agency continue to under perform expectations.

Last spring Cannabis NB announced it lost $11.7 million in its abbreviated 24-week first year and spokesperson Marie-Andrée Bolduc said although those negative returns have continued into the second year, they have slowed.

"The loss gap is decreasing," she said in an email.   

Sales online and at Cannabis NB stores totalled $9.1 million during the 13 weeks between April 1 and June 30, according to new figures released Thursday — two days later than required.  

Sales were an average of $700,000 per week during the quarter. That's worse than sales recorded in Cannabis NB's disappointing first fiscal year, which averaged just over $784,000 per week.   

Cannabis NB's original business plan projected average sales of $1.9 million per week following legalization last fall but actual results have come nowhere near that amount since stores opened Oct. 17.

Cannabis NB has been charging higher prices on many products than other Atlantic Canadian provinces, which have all posted better sales figures, but earlier this year Cannabis NB's general manager, Lara Wood, blamed supply shortages for poor results, not a flawed business plan.

Cannabis NB general manager Lara Wood said in April that the agency is 'on a good trajectory for improvement.' (CBC)

"What we are seeing anecdotally from our customers is the demand is where we expected it to be. We just don't have all the products in our portfolio in the right quantities to meet that demand right now."

Bolduc said supply is still a problem but she also blamed "illegal dispensaries" for attracting business and suppressing Cannabis NB sales.

"At the time the budget was developed we were not anticipating the issues around supply and the emergence of illegal operations," she wrote.

No one from Cannabis NB was made available for an interview, and Bolduc would only take written questions by email.  

Maritime counterparts ahead

Elsewhere cannabis retailing has been more successful.   

Nova Scotia reported $33.2 million in sales in its first fiscal year, 76.6 per cent more than New Brunswick, despite Nova Scotia's population being just 25 per cent larger.

In P.E.I., government retailer PEI Cannabis last month reported revenue of $3.8 million in its first quarter — double sales in New Brunswick on a per-person basis over the same period.

A spokesperson for New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said he was on vacation this week and not immediately available for an interview.   

Legislation requires NB Liquor and Cannabis NB to release a summary of financial results "within 30 days after the end of each quarter," which was on Tuesday. 

Nicole Picot, vice-president communications for NB Liquor, said vacation schedules and year-end accounting work caused both NB Liquor and Cannabis NB to miss the deadline.

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