The New Brunswick Crown corporation in charge of cannabis saw a significant year-over-year increase in sales in the final months of 2019 despite the province’s push for sales to go private.
According to the latest financial results from Cannabis NB, from Sept. 30, 2019, to Dec. 29, 2019, Cannabis NB saw $11 million in sales, an increase of 23.7 per cent from the same quarter in 2018.
But despite the boost in sales, the provincial government appears committed to taking cannabis sales in New Brunswick private.
In November, the province announced it would be looking to privatize the sale of cannabis in New Brunswick. It issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the operation, distribution and sales of recreational cannabis in the province soon afterward.
New Brunswick received eight responses to its RFP; two proposals each from companies or groups in New Brunswick, Ontario, and Alberta and one each from companies in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
A private operator could be announced as soon as this spring with a possible transition to the private model by the end of the year.
Future of NB Cannabis stores questioned under private model
Cannabis NB has repeatedly drawn the ire of Premier Blaine Higgs since he took office.
He has said that losing money on selling cannabis is unacceptable, with Cannabis NB losing almost $12 million in its first six months of business.
The second quarter of the 2019-20 fiscal year saw the Crown corporation report a $1.5-million loss.
Patrick Parent, president and CEO of Cannabis NB has said it’s unlikely that the corporation will turn a profit in the current fiscal year.
Other provinces that have operated under a government-run model are doing better than Cannabis NB, with observers pointing to the extensive network of 20 retail stores in communities that may not be able to support those businesses.
Cannabis NB currently operates out of 20 standalone retail spaces scattered across 15 communities in the province, with observers noting that some are in communities that may not be able to support those businesses.
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