N. B. cannabis re­tailer lays off staffers

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - BUSINESS -

FRED­ER­IC­TON — New Brunswick’s cannabis re­tailer is lay­ing off staff, say­ing it has a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of “op­er­a­tional needs” three months after the his­toric le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana.

Cannabis NB said most of the about 60 lay­offs in­volved peo­ple with sea­sonal con­tracts, but some are part- time or full- time em­ploy­ees.

Spokes­woman Marie- An­dree Bolduc said Thurs­day that de­spite sup­ply chal­lenges, op­er­a­tions have nor­mal­ized at the 20 stores and they now un­der­stand the needs of each out­let.

“This de­ci­sion is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of nor­mal new re­tail in­dus­try op­er­a­tions and long- term fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she said in an email.

She said it’s dif­fi­cult to spec­u­late whether the sup­ply prob­lems that have plagued cannabis re­tail­ers across the coun­try were a fac­tor.

“Sup­ply is­sues may have con­trib­uted, how­ever based on cur­rent traf­fic and in­ter­ac­tion time with cus­tomers we are con­fi­dent that even as sup­ply con­tin­ues to sta­bi­lize and we ex­pand our port­fo­lio, that our cur­rent team has the ca­pac­ity to de­liver the ex­pected cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tion and man­age store op­er­a­tions,” she said.

Un­der the for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, New Brunswick had seen le­gal­ized cannabis as green gold — a chance to rake in prof­its and cre­ate pro­duc­tion and re­tail jobs, with a com­mu­nity col­lege pro­gram de­vel­oped for cannabis tech­ni­cians.

Bolduc said some of the laid- off staff may be re­hired in the fu­ture.

“In pre­par­ing for the launch of the new le­gal cannabis in­dus­try, Cannabis NB wanted to en­sure that a well- trained, qual­i­fied team was built that was large enough to set up the re­tail lo­ca­tions, fill the work sched­ules and de­liver the right cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tion based on de­mand,” she said.

“The teams and roles were struc­tured to al­low flex­i­bil­ity in the de­liv­ery of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence needed and man­age ex­pec­ta­tions that staffing of stores may change after launch.”

Bolduc says they’ll be re­leas­ing quar­terly sales fig­ures at the end of Jan­uary.

Mean­while, neigh­bour­ing Nova Sco­tia is not look­ing at any lay­offs as a re­sult of sup­ply short­ages, said provin­cial Fi­nance Min­is­ter Karen Casey.

The prov­ince has only 12 shops run by the Nova Sco­tia Liquor Cor­po­ra­tion, which gets its sup­ply from li­censed pro­duc­ers based in Nova Sco­tia, P. E. I., New Brunswick, On­tario and Al­berta.

Casey said a sec­ond Nova Sco­tia pro­ducer has re­cently got­ten ap­proval from Health Canada, which has helped with the sup­ply crunch, while a third is wait­ing for ap­proval.

“We were an­tic­i­pat­ing a greater de­mand over the Christ­mas sea­son that we did re­ceive, so it helped to bal­ance that ( short­ages) out,” said Casey.

She said un­like New Brunswick, her prov­ince did not lock em­ploy­ees into con­tracts be­gin­ning with the orig­i­nal roll out date of July 1. Casey said Nova Sco­tia stores are also staffed by some per­ma­nent part- time work­ers.

“So we are not sub­jected to the sit­u­a­tion that they ( New Brunswick) are, where they have em­ploy­ees and no work and have to lay them off,” she said.

Casey said the fact Nova Sco­tia op­er­ates with fewer stores has been a fac­tor in re­tain­ing jobs.

“I think that ap­proach has al­lowed us to bet­ter man­age sup­ply de­mand and not have to look at lay­offs.”


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