Sundial Growers Inc

Sundial Growers Inc. (SNDL) CEO Zach George on Q2 2020 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

Sundial Growers Inc. (NASDAQ:SNDL) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call August 14, 2020 10:30 AM ET

Company Representatives

Zach George – Chief Executive Officer

Jim Keough – Chief Financial Officer

Andrew Stordeur – President, Chief Operating Officer

Conference Call Participants

Vivien Azer – Cowen

John Zamparo – CIBC

Doug Miehm – RBC Capital Markets

Operator

Good morning and welcome to Sundial Growers Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results Conference Call. As a reminder, all participants are in listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded. After the presentation there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions].

Yesterday afternoon Sundial issued a press release announcing their financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2020. This press release is available on the company’s website at sndlgroup.com and filed on EDGAR and SEDAR as well.

Presenting on this morning’s call we have Zach George, Chief Executive Officer; Jim Keough, Chief Financial Officer and Andrew Stordeur, President and Chief Operating Officer.

Before we start, I would like to remind investors that certain matters discussed in today’s conference call or answers that maybe given to questions could constitute forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated.

Risk factors that could affect results are detailed in the company’s financial reports and other public filings that are made available on SEDAR and EDGAR. Additionally, all financial figures mentioned are in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise indicated.

I’d also like to note that we are conducting the call today from our respective remote locations. As such there may be brief delays, crosstalk or minor technical issues during this call. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. We will now make prepared remarks and then we’ll move on to a question-and-answer session.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Zach George.

Zach George

Good morning, and thank you everyone for joining us on our second quarter 2020 earnings call. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect global markets and people around the world, we hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time. Before we discuss our operations and our second quarter results, I want to take a moment and address the impact of COVID-19 and how Sundial is adapting during this time.

First and foremost, our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our employees. Sundial quickly activated our emergency operations center back in March. Our response team, which is comprised of key leaders from across the company has been monitoring the situation daily and has implemented a business continuity plan to support its employee base, while continuing to develop and produce reliable, high quality products that meet the needs of our consumers. I’m proud of how our decisive team has executed on this plan.

In accordance with the guidance of provincial and federal health officials to limit the risk and transmission of COVID-19, we’ve implemented mandatory self-quarantine, travel and sanitation policies, as well as social distancing measures. We continue to be committed to our stringent procedures to ensure the protection of our employees and consumers, along with achieving minimal disruption to operations. Sundial did not experience any material disruption to production and processing activities in the second quarter related to COVID.

Racial and diversity disparities continue to be prevalent in workplaces across the country and the swell of nationwide and international protest and demand for change has not gone unnoticed by Sundial. We are proud to support and have signed the Black North Initiative led by Wes Hall.

Black North is an initiative that is challenging Canadian leaders to commit to specific actions and targets designed to end anti-black systemic racism. Among other things, the initiative set several specific goals, such as having at least 3.5% of executive and board role in the company held by black leaders by 2025.

Social justice starts at home. We need to and will address our hiring practices and corporate culture, as well as any potential conscious or unconscious biases in our leadership. There are many ways to get the diversity wrong and we want to choose the hard right instead of the easy wrong decisions.

Diversity for us isn’t about checking boxes or hitting hiring goals. We need to take concrete actions. We are committed to continuing to learn, listen and lead on action to address diversity, discrimination and racism. To ensure we reach our Black North initiative goals, we are committed to review and improve our diversity policies and put real actions in place that support long term systemic solution.

August 1 marks Sundial’s one-year anniversary as a public company. While the team has accomplished many important milestones, to state that Sundial shareholder return profile since the IPO has been disappointing, would be an understatement. Over the last six months our newly constituted management team has worked hard to effectively reset the business. We have made solid progress on advancing our core objectives, including improving our financial flexibility, narrowing our operating focus and lowering our cost structure, but there’s still significant work to be done to deliver on innovation, improved capacity utilization, and reduce our cost of goods sold.

In the second quarter, the team achieved the extremely difficult task of growing revenues by 44%, while reducing SMG&A costs by 35%. In addition, our cash burn rate was reduced by 38% on a sequential basis. To achieve this result in the span of a single quarter is a phenomenal accomplishment.

Our team continues to deliver on the mission of transitioning from a business model that was entirely reliant on wholesale revenue, to one focus on branded products. Not only did branded products reach an all-time high of almost 70% of total revenues this quarter, but our average gross selling price per gram of branded products actually increased by 11% to CAD5.67 per gram versus Q1, largely driven by our success in the vape category.

As we relentlessly strive for continued improvement, we’ve made some very difficult decisions this past quarter, including additional head-count reductions, the sale of high quality assets and the curtailment of our cultivation activities. We are intently focused on reducing our cost of goods in the coming months.

Our leadership team has formed a task force to identify ways and areas for additional strategic cost cutting in our cultivation and production processes. It is essential that we become more competitive versus our peers and the illicit market, as consumer demand shifts and new products are introduced. These initiatives along with continued strong consumer demand and increased sales levels to date in 2020, should position us well for the balance of the year.

Sundial’s success will continue to be driven by delighting our customers with branded product offerings and capturing additional market share with a focus on inhalable products. We are pleased to see our quality brands resonating with consumers. We have strong foundational market share in Canada and are excited by the growth we are seeing in the broader market. To develop trusted cannabis brand that resonate with consumers, it is critical that we deliver consistent high quality products. Andrew Stordeur, will provide more details around this in his update.

As the industry in Canada continues to grow, we believe that Sundial is well positioned to meet evolving consumer preferences by being a consumer centric organization with data driven consumer insights and analytics. While Sundial remains focused on its core strategy, the Board of Directors has determined that it is prudent to conduct a review of potential strategic alternatives to ensure that all opportunities to maximize value are explored.

Sundial has engaged ATB Capital Markets as its financial advisor to assist with this review. There is no assurance that this review will result in a transaction of any kind and the company does not intend to provide any updates or additional comment on these matters until the Board approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the review.

While we are pleased to be one of the small handful of Canadian LP’s able to post quarterly revenues greater than $20 million, we remain focused on the intense competitive landscape and the need to gain greater scale to reach sustainable profitability. We view the Canadian market as a compelling long term opportunity, but the industry is still in its infancy and growing pains are part of the current reality for all LPs.

We are only just starting to see evidence of true brand loyalty among consumers. We are carefully monitoring monetization in the flower market and have witnessed an epic 80% increase in product skews in the market place since the beginning of this year.

It is unlikely that we will see this quarter’s 40% growth in sequential revenue continue at the same pace in subsequent quarters and fortunately Sundial’s success is not required. We continue to believe that the Canadian cannabis industry will begin to take the shape of an oligopoly over the next 24 months. This path will likely see both consolidation, which will help leverage corporate cost structures and business failures as investors back away from smaller entity that will never achieve the scale required to become sustainably profitable.

Inventory liquidation and non-economic pricing decisions will only accelerate this process, ultimately bringing greater industry stability to be enjoyed by surviving LP’s and their stakeholders.

Sundial expects 2020 to be a transition year as the company has reset its strategic focus, streamlined its organizational structure and implemented a comprehensive operational and supply chain productivity optimization program. Our restructuring plans already helped strengthen Sundial’s position. We expect to continue to invest in our strategic initiatives and we remain focused on reaching sustainable profitability.

I would now like to turn it over to Jim Keough, Sundial’s CFO, to give you a financial update.

Jim Keough

Thank you, Zach and good morning everyone. I would like to remind everyone that all amounts are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated and as we were still in the early stages of start-up one year ago, the comparative period that I refer to will be Q1, 2020, unless I indicate otherwise. Also, note that I will refer only to continuing operations which will exclude results from our U.K. ornamental flower business as it was sold during the quarter.

In Q2, 2020 we made significant strides in optimizing our asset base, reducing our overall cost structure and recapitalizing our balance sheet for sustainable profitable growth. We are pleased with our financial results for the quarter, particularly our cannabis revenue growth.

We completed the sale of our U.K. based Bridge Farm assets on June 5. As previously disclosed, we sold Bridge Farm to the former management sellers in exchange for the following: The assumption of CAD45 million in debt under our term debt facility, which then told CAD115 million. The assumption of contingent consideration liabilities from the original Bridge Farm acquisition agreement, and the cancellation of approximately 2.7 million Sundial common shares held by the former management sellers. These shares were issued in relation to the original Bridge Farm acquisition.

Along with the sale of Bridge Farm on June 5, we amended and restated our credit agreement and extinguished our term debt facility, as well as raising additional funds by way of issuance of convertible notes in the amount of $18 million in aggregate principal. Under the amended and restated credit agreement with our senior lenders, we eliminated all financial covenants with the exception of a minimum cash balance of $2.5 million until December 31 of this year or one quarter later under certain circumstances, as well as a covenant requiring us to raise $10 million of equity by December 1, 2020.

Furthermore, quarterly principal payments of CAD2.1 million have been deferred with the first payment now due on September 30, 2020. With respect to the term debt facility that was outstanding, the remaining CAD73.2 million of principal and accrued interest that was not assigned to the former Bridge Farm management sellers was extinguished and replaced with CAD73.2 million in senior second lien convertible notes.

These notes were convertible into common shares at an initial price of one $1 per share. As part of this transaction, common share purchase warrants were issued to acquire up to 17.5 million common shares at an initial exercise price of $1 and an additional 17.5 million shares at an initial exercise price of $1.20 per share.

We’ve also improved our liquidity position with the issuance of $18 million in unsecured convertible notes. The notes do not bear interest, except upon triggering certain defined events and they mature on June 5, 2022.

Overall, the amendments we’ve made through our debt facilities and the follow on convertible notes issuance has improved our liquidity and relate to lender restrictions to allow us to execute our go-forward business strategy.

Turning to our Q2, 2020 financial results. We reported net revenues of CAD20.2 million, reflecting a 44% increase over the previous quarter net revenues of CAD14 million. We recorded an adjusted EBITDA loss of CAD3.9 million for the second quarter, which was a CAD7.7 million improvement over Q1.

Our net loss from continuing operations amounted to CAD31.6 million, primarily reflecting non-cash charges related to fair value adjustments and an inventory impairment provision of CAD13.1 million on dried cannabis and cannabis extracts related to adjustments made to our product portfolio in order to meet rapidly evolving consumer demands.

As Zach mentioned, we’ve taken some difficult, but decisive actions to improve our cost structure. Sundial’s G&A costs related to cannabis operations were reduced by 28% from CAD10.6 million to CAD7.7 million in Q2, when compared to Q1. The reduction in our work force required to adjust to market conditions and a focused review of all expenditures created this improvement.

Sales and marketing costs decreased from CAD1.8 million to CAD0.5 million in Q2 when compared to Q1, as certain costs were deferred. We are budgeting for increased investment in sales and marketing expenditures in the coming quarters.

During the quarter, we harvested approximately 6,400 kilograms of cannabis and sold just over 6,000 kilograms. This compares to last quarter, where we harvested approximately 10,300 kilograms and sold 4,400 kilograms. During Q2 we curtailed cultivation and harvesting capacity utilization in response to market conditions, including an oversupply of product in the industry and adjustments by provincial boards and their inventory management strategies.

We are aggressively accessing opportunities to maximize the value of our investment of our existing inventory. Our modular grow room configuration positions us to access additional production capacity as the need progresses. Sundial’s focused on opportunities for increased capacity utilization and throughput in future quarters to decrease the manufacturing overhead burden on production and reduce our cost of goods sold.

On average, our gross selling price per gram equivalent of branded products was CAD5.67 per gram in the second quarter 2020, including provisions, compared to CAD5.11 per gram in the prior quarter. The change in average gross selling price was primarily due to successful increase in vape sales.

Average gross selling prices for unbranded flower in the second quarter we’re CAD2.82 per gram, up from CAD2.74 per gram in the previous quarter, despite competitive pressures in the wholesale market as a result of industry wide increased inventory levels.

Adjusted gross margin for inventory impairment and fair value adjustments for Q2, 2020 was CAD2.9 million, compared to an adjusted gross margin of CAD0.5 million in Q1, 2020. This represents an adjusted gross margin of 14% of net sales for the current quarter.

For the quarter we reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of CAD3.9 million in comparison to an adjusted EBITDA loss of CAD11.6 million in the prior quarter. Included in our adjusted EBITDA loss this quarter was restructuring costs of CAD2.4 million incurred as we continue to reduce our overall cost structure and optimize our operations.

With respect to our balance sheet, as of June 30 we had cash and cash equivalents of CAD21.6 million, and total debt including convertible debentures with a principal value of CAD177 million. We continue to take measures to address liquidity, including disposition of non-core assets, monetization of inventory, minimization of all obligations across our cost structure, operational efficiency improvements and maximization of cash flow from operations.

Subsequent to the quarter end, Sundial has filed a registration statement for a mixed-shelf prospectus allowing it to issue common shares in an amount of up to $100 million at its discretion and intends to establish an at-the-market equity program covering issuances of up to $50 million.

As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve fully completed construction of our cultivation facilities and Olds and are now limiting capital expenditures to essential expenditures. As such we’re reviewing alternatives to our plant extraction and processing facility in Olds, where the largest part of our 2020 CapEx budget was allocated.

From a maintenance CapEx standpoint, we anticipate spending about CAD500,000 per quarter to maintain current capacity. Overall, we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made to strengthen our balance sheet and liquidity position.

I’ll now invite Andrew Stordeur, President and COO of Sundial to provide some more remarks about operations.

Andrew Stordeur

Thank you, Jim and good morning everyone. The Canadian cannabis industry continues to be extremely dynamic as the variety of offerings in the accessibility of quality legal product becomes more readily available. We believe that our brand portfolio and our agile production footprints gives Sundial a competitive advantage to better meet the demands of our consumers and customers as preferences evolve.

So let me update you on some of the progress Sundial is making. We have been consistent on our sales mix strategy over the past three quarters, as we focus on driving better market penetration with our branded product offering versus the wholesale channel. Our quarter two branded net sales increased to 69% versus 54% in quarter 1, 2020, which puts us on track to delivering 80% branded and 20% wholesale business mix by year-end.

Our recreational market share continued to show momentum in quarter two, with growth in each of the four regions nationally: West, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. At the end of June, we had reached a 4.5% market share nationally, compared to a 3% market share in quarter one.

Ontario will be a key market for our commercial business, as we ramp our provincial investment in conjunction with the province and store expansion efforts. At as the end of July, Sundial has moved into the top 10 licensed producers within the Ontario market, as measured by market share, and our expectation is that we will continue to make positive traction in Canada’s largest province here to-go with continued investment in our people and our brands.

Quarter two was also our first full quarter in the province of Quebec, and we’re extremely pleased that our brands have quickly resonated with Quebec consumers. 22% of our revenue in quarter two came from the province of Quebec, with their Top Leaf brand leading our sales mix. We remain optimistic about the opportunity in the province and how our brands are positioned to meet the needs of Quebec consumers.

Our vape product portfolio continues to resonate with consumers and gain traction, representing 26% of our total revenue in the quarter. And as a reminder, the SQDC does not allow vape sales currently in the province of Quebec.

What is becoming more imperative to consumer preference in the vape segment is products that only contain cannabis or cannabis extract and have no added ingredients. Our vape portfolio delivers against its brand promise consistently and we remain encouraged that our focused on the high growth inhalable segment will allow us to further differentiate and drive meaningful share growth in this segment.

In quarter two we continue to expand our product offerings through several strong launches. The introduction of Palmetto flower, with the new 3.5 gram whole flower SKU and the release of the Raskal OG 5/10 vape cartridge. We’ve only introduced the palmetto brand in select provinces year-to-date, but we expect to expand distribution nationally later this year.

We also released under a Sundial brand, [inaudible] flower; the CBD 20:1 sublingual oil and the Lemon Riot Disposable vape cartridge. And finally, we were very pleased to release another Top Leaf brand offering with Bubba flower, which launched the THC potency over 25% and quickly became one of the company’s top selling flower SKUs. Top Leaf’s four star general 5-10 vape cartridge was also launched in the quarter and was well received by consumers.

As Jim had mentioned, we expect our sales and marketing investments as a percentage of net revenue to grow meaningful during the second half of 2020, as we develop a holistic holiday campaign to drive in-store and online brand awareness.

Sundial’s innovation pipeline continues to strengthen, as we will be launching concentrate line extensions in quarter four for both Top Leaf and Grasslands in the form of Bubble Hash, Rosin and Live Rosin. Select entry into the edible segment is also being considered as we look at several third party manufacturing opportunities with the right economics.

Sundial’s approach to the value segment remains simple under our Grasslands portfolio. We must remain competitive given the size of the segment, but we are not looking to leave price down further. We think this action is counterproductive to a healthy industry for all stakeholders. Instead, we intend to shift the narrative with our customers on how to grow the category by focusing on optimal assortments, along with pricing promotional strategy that deliver profit per gram versus a volume and all cost approach.

On that note, we are excited to be launching a 28 gram Top Leaf offering, providing the cannabis connoisseur, a large pack option to meet their specific needs. Timing of this launch is expected to be in quarter four or the early part of 2021, and we anticipate this to be well received given Top Leaf’s positive traction with the consumers and customers nationally.

Our supply team has done a tremendous job overcoming significant processing challenges during the first quarter of 2020, as our On Time In Full or OTIF metrics continue to surpass 90% in quarter two. While this is certainly an encouraging trend, we want to keep that OTIF metric above 85% but below 100% on a year-to-go basis. Constant tension between supply capability and increasing demand is optimal to creating a more agile and consistent supply chain muscle.

Sundial has made meaningful progress on the commercial and operations fronts. We also certainly understand that building a sustainably profitable business centered around the consumer will require time to develop our brand portfolio and thoughtful choices in where and how we invest for future growth.

The learning curve certainly remains steep for Sundial and the industry as a whole, but we remain encouraged in the progress made in quarter and how we are positioning our business momentum for the remainder of the year.

With that, I’d like to turn the call back to Zach for closing remarks.

Zach George

Thank you, Andrew. In conclusion, Sundial continues to make progress in an uncertain environment. We have completed five quarters as a public company and are working hard to transition from a start-up business that has required significant cash consumption, to a more mature statewide business that is the generator free cash flow. I am proud of our team’s focus and dedication, while navigating through this unprecedented time.

Thank you everyone for joining the call. Take care and stay safe.

I will now turn the call back to the operator for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question is from Vivien Azer with Cowen. Please go ahead.

Vivien Azer

Hi, thank you. Good morning.

Zach George

Good morning Vivien.

Vivien Azer

Good morning. So my first question is on your revenues. So the mix improvement towards branded product is clearly healthy and you can see that showing up in the ASPs for sure in terms of the sequential improvement. But I’m a little bit surprised that you’re ASPs, like just holistically as low as they are, given that branded mix close to 70%. So can you just offer a little color on like the offsets? I presume it’s very aggressive wholesale pricing, but any other color would be helpful. Thank you.

Andrew Stordeur

Hi Vivien, its Andrew. I can take that. So just so I’m clear in thequestions, just in regards to the ASP in general for Q2 and lower based on what we saw on the provincial mix versus the wholesale mix?

Vivien Azer

Yeah, exactly right, yeah. Because I would think that like given the close to 70% of your revenues are now coming from branded products, that fundamentally you’re ASPs might be a little bit higher. So just trying to understand the off or the drag? Thanks.

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, I think if – when you look at our mix, we are pretty happy with the mix that we have as far as the branded site goes, and obviously there is still a little bit in there as you mention in regards to the wholesale side, but our mix is kind of moving in the direction that we expected.

So I’ll just give you a little bit of color on that, and we anticipate you know still good solid pricing on our branded portfolio certainly as Top Leaf continues to build traction. But about 16% of our mix here dates sitting in Grassland, about 46% of its in Top Leaf and the balance is really in Sundial. So we have solid mix in there as far as the brand portfolio goes in the branded site.

I mean just got that mix to continue to be the same, but yeah, I think you’re right, we’re seeing a little bit of the wholesale number being there, and the 80/20 as far as how we’re targeting for the balance for the year is well on track as far as this goes.

Vivien Azer

Alright, that’s really helpful, thank you for that. My next question is on your commentary around sales and marketing and the back half. It seems reasonable enough that you would want to do something around holiday, that kind of traditional CPG, certainly alcohol does it. I think you used the word holistic. So given the restrictions in the marketplace and just – I know it competitively sensitive, but like just a high level understanding of what that is and like order of magnitude, like what we should be thinking about, because that line item has moved around a fair bit just in the two restated quarters that we have. Thanks.

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, good question. Thanks Vivian, yeah. So I think you’re right. As we look about just kind of the occasions as far as how consumers shop, obviously as you get into Q4 there’s a big one. We came out with a couple of campaigns, lighter versions as we got into summertime, but we’ve kind of geared up aggressively just given the offerings we are going to have in the market, certainly anchored around Top Leaf.

When I say holistic, I’m talking about kind of above and below the line and certainly the big area of focus for us is going to be in-store and you know we kind of call that store back marketing. So looking at all of our retail partnerships across the country, we’ve got a great opportunity to drive traffic. Retailers are excited about the program. We started talking to them about this and you’ll see a lot of the activity that we’re going to implement, specific to retailers, specific to the region’s focused on Top Leaf, but very much about in-store experience, driving kind of awareness inside the four walls of the store.

Vivien Azer

Sure, and last one for me is on vape. So [inaudible] publish some data earlier this week at the provincial level, looking at category mix. It looks like it – basis, I think you guys said 26% of sales, so you’re punching above your weight, which is great, absolutely! So I’m just trying to think about like how you are like benchmarking your six apps? Like what are the KPI’s? What do you think like the right market share is relative to the category then, thanks – in vape definitely?

A – Zach George

Yeah, we continue to be really optimistic. Obviously we’ve been pretty consistent on the vape side, so I think we’re – you know we’re where we expected to be on vape, but of course Vivian, to your point we actually think there’s tremendous upside still in the category. There’s certainly a lot offering that are coming out. We’ve actually had pretty good traction, which is based on the full cannabis broad spectrum of offering that we have in the market.

So you know as far as that split of business, if you kind of look at it from a holistic standpoint as far as the industry goes, it’s kind of following what we thought it was going to follow with regards to the size of that segment. But as we continue to grow in it, we’re going to continue to bring offerings. We’re looking at a 1gm offering as well in the back half, so the innovation is going to continue in vape.

Certainly on Grasslands and the 1gm, we’re going to bring up some new cultivars and strains on Top Leaf, but I think if you look about, you know we’re not going to give real guidance around what the portfolio mix is going to be. But if we’re sitting at about 11% total right now, I think we can double that as we get into what should be a pretty solid mix of segments for all of Canada, and we certainly want to take advantage of that. So we’re certainly not done on vape. We’ve had good traction to-date, but the growth is still there and we’re pretty optimistic about that.

Another thing we’re doing on vape as well, just as that segment continues to kind of move is, there’s a lot of opportunities there in regards to continuing to build a more profitable kind of vape offerings, so we got a lot of initiative inside of Sundial right now on how we best do that.

So you’ll see more offerings coming to market. We’re bullish on it. I think our products delivered, consumers seem to like it and if you look across the spectrum, across all the regions, it’s performing pretty consistently in all aspects. I think we’ve now been eight or nine weeks in a row now in Atlantic Canada, the number one provider on vape. So we intend to hold that, but obvious it’s going to be harder than it was just given all the entrants coming in.

Vivien Azer

Understandable. Thanks very much for the color. I appreciate it.

Operator

Our next question is from John Zamparo with CIBC. Please go ahead.

John Zamparo

Thanks, good morning. I want to get your expectations on gross margins over the next few quarters. The press release referenced trying to get cogs down a bit further, but it does seem like pricing’s holding in maybe better than some would expect given market dynamics. I just would like to get a sense of the puts and takes over the back half of the year. Thanks.

Zach George

Hey John, this is Zach, I could take that and good morning. So we are expecting volatility in margins in the back half. We believe that stabilized margins of approximately 40% are achievable, but with what we’re seeing in terms of area of the price impression and competition in the marketplace, we expect volatility over the next six to 12 months.

John Zamparo

Okay, thanks for that. And I may have just been on the call, but in your 2.0 portfolio as it stands now and where you want to go, is that accretive to margins or in line with it or is it a bit below as your start-up costs. How should we think about that?

Zach George

Yeah, we’re looking at a number of initiatives and we’ll only start to invest meaningful time in capital to the extent that they are accretive to current margin.

John Zamparo

Okay, got it. Thanks. One of the potential outcomes of the strategic alternatives was an investment in others. I’m curious what you would look for in a potential investment? I think you mentioned retail as a possibility. Is your goal to vertically integrate, so you can get preference for your own brands at the store level or just what might you be looking for in a potential investment?

Zach George

Yes, what we know John, we have a strong focus in the premium category, which we believe is still very much in its infancy in the Canadian marketplace. So I don’t want to get you too focused on retail I would say.

We do see a number of opportunities where there are brands or collections of brands that we believe are getting in connection with consumers and to now to make those into an attractive portfolio where there would be operating efficiencies, but also having sit under a much more efficient nimble corporate structure would be a good opportunity to drive profitability. So you might see – you may see interest in the tier II LP selectively at the corporate or brand level that we’ll be looking at.

John Zamparo

Okay, that’s helpful, thanks. And then one last one, maybe we could talk a bit about innovation. Maybe if you could elaborate on what you have in terms of the pipelines for future products and particularly I’m curious about concentrates. It does seem like pricing is a bit unattractive in the market right now versus the illicit sides. Maybe there’s an opportunity there, but just would like to get your thoughts on that please.

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, good morning John, its Andrew here. A couple of pieces on that. I think we mentioned in the call that, you know with the inhalable segment for us kind of consists of concentrates that’s always been kind of in the pipeline for us, we’re getting ready to launch that in Q4 and to your point, just like in any other segment, there’s certainly price partitions where we’re going to need to compete in, and if you look at the limited offerings that are in the market today, they are kind of all over the map.

So we’re going to be launching the Top Leaf brand, as well as the Grasslands brand and you’ll see kind of those different formats play in those different price partitions accordingly. So that’s going to be a big focus and as I stated that’ll be a Bubble Hash rather than Live Rosin. Those are going to be kind of the three areas or three formats that we are going to be focused on from solving this standpoint.

And then we’re also excited to kind of launch in the Flower Set at 28 gram Top Leaf, that’s also in the pipeline as well for us as we build out. And we’re still looking at edibles as an opportunity, but certainly not a key focus area for us as we’re obviously in that inhalable side and very focused on that side.

John Zamparo

Okay, that’s great. That’s all for me. Thank you very much.

Operator

Our next question is from David [inaudible] with ATB financial. Please go ahead.

Unidentified Analyst

Hi! This is Glenn, David’s associate. Thanks for taking my call. Firstly, congrats on the quarter. So I had a question on the market shares data provided in the presentation. Your market share improvement in the West and Quebec is very strong, especially you had 6.10% market share in Quebec without vapes. Just wanted to understand the reason for slower market share in Ontario, apart from a slower roll out of retail infrastructure? Do you see anything related to difference in consumer preferences or competitive dynamics across the provinces?

Andrew Stordeur

Good morning, thank you for the question. Its Andrew here, I’ll take that one. Maybe I’ll start with Ontario. Yeah, you know I think our whole strategy from the onset was to really anchor pretty strong in Western Canada and we our strongest share position in Western Canada. You know we’re certainly seeing good share growth continue in Q2 as we ramp up those branded sales.

Ontario as we mentioned is going to be a big focus for us commercially, so we’re investing you know aggressively there with both people and brand activation, and that’s kind of working in conjunction obviously with the store rollout and yet we do see some slight variances, certainly you know as far as how the consumer is looking and how the consumer is shopping in different regions.

But for the most part, you know as we look at it from a macro segment standpoint on the inhalable side, the split of that business in flower, vape and concentrate is pretty consistent, that the make-up of how that’s working and what spreads are meeting with consumers might be slightly different, but as far as our portfolio goes, we’re seeing pretty consistent Top Leaf consumption. Consumers are really rallying against that brand.

Sundial is pretty consistent as well and Grasslands is a bit higher in the market in Ontario, so it’s certainly something we’re watching as we make some decisions there with the portfolio. But relatively speaking, you know the macro view on those segment mixes is pretty consistent and we’re playing in those pretty aggressively.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, thanks. That’s very clear and lastly, I wanted to understand your gross margin dynamics. In addition to revenue mix, what factors do you think will drive the gross margin over long term?

Andrew Stordeur

Sorry, can you just repeat the question just so I heard that. I just want to make sure I got that.

Unidentified Analyst

I think your revenue mix is currently having a substantial portion coming from wholesale segment. So I think that maybe one of the reasons where you’re lower gross margin. So in addition to the revenue mix, do you see anything coming from the cost side, to improve the gross margin over the longer term?

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, a good question. So I think the strategy for us has been consistent. We’re going to see an 80-20 mix on that branded side versus our wholesale channel. We’re on track for that, so we’re going to continue to do that.

I think in regards to margin and making sure that we’re tying that up, I think absolutely. We’ve got some pretty aggressive initiatives inside the facility to make sure that we’re managing that cultivation and production cost down accordingly.

I would mention – look, I mean at the end of the day we’re never going to be the lowest cost producer in cannabis in Canada just given our cultivation facility in indoor. That said, you know we can make traction on ensuring that that price goes down and obviously helps with our margins and the team is starting to focus on that.

So absolutely, to answer your question, that is a big focus for the back half of this year. It has been and will continue to be and you know that’s going to be ongoing and we certainly see tremendous opportunities to take some further costs out on that cultivation and production side, which is obviously going to impact margins on the positive side.

A – Zach George

Just to add to Andy’s comment, you know we’re seeing all this here, but the margins you’re seeing today are reflective of cultivation and preserve [ph] in class that have moved dramatically. We’ve already made massive improvements and continue to gain more ground there, so we’re excited to present the results of those as they flip through margins in future periods.

Unidentified Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question is from Doug Miehm with RBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Doug Miehm

Good morning. A couple of questions. First one really has to do with pricing in vape categories and I know you have your partitions, but can you give us an idea of what you think is going to happen with respect to pricing in your view on the vape side over the next six months to a year?

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, I think it’s going to come down Doug, right. I mean, you know I’d love to say that pricing is going to remain as it is today with premium kind of leading the charts, which is what we’re seeing by the way on vape on the segment. But I also think we’re going to see more offerings come into the market, you’re going to see providers try to move through their inventory on oil.

So I think the natural view is from our end, I think the industry stand point is you’re going to see the value side of vape kind of move up as far as volume goes. But I think the profitability and the profit pool still sits on that higher end and I think your vape consumer is going to be willing to pay a little bit more, certainly as we see a little bit more noise on these ingredients additives and what not, and I think they are a little bit more conscious around vape than we’ve seen in the past, so.

But I think high level Doug, you know you’re going to see more to the west on vape, no doubt about it, that’s why we’re looking at Grasslands, but we’re also looking to the larger plane Grasslands of the 1gm offering, but I don’t think it’s going to be as aggressive of a move that we saw going to the left that we did in the flower.

Doug Miehm

Okay, so why is that we’ve heard from people that they’re going to do pricing in the 50% discount soon.

Andrew Stordeur

I can’t comment on what other people have said, but 50% discount on vape?

Doug Miehm

Yes.

Andrew Stordeur

Yeah, that’s certainly not something that Sundial’s going to be doing, but you know we think that given our offering and given where the vape category has been, where we see it certainly in more established markets out of the U.S., that the elasticity is very different in vape than it is in flower. So can’t comment around somebody making a 50% drop on vape, but I guess we’ll see when that happens.

Doug Miehm

Okay, perfect. Next question, relates to whether or not the company received any COVID related grants or benefits. Nothing was noted, and if there was nothing received, I’m curious as to why you didn’t pursue those?

Jim Keough

This is Jim, I’ll jump in on that one, and we have carefully looked at all the programs that are available. We’ve not been able to access them; we’ve not qualified for the programs available to-date. There continues to be new programs rolled out as you know, and I believe that we potentially could, that we will qualify for the wage subsidy, the new wage subsidy program, so – but we have not finalized that and we are continuing to work on that.

To-date, all those programs have certain requirements and specifications to qualify, that we have not been able to qualify. We carefully evaluated all of those programs that are available.

Doug Miehm

Okay, thanks very much for that, and then final question just has to do with the deal that was finalized this morning. Can you tell us about why that was completed right in the face of the CAD50 million in ATM that’s going to be out there shortly?

Zach George

Yeah, sure Dough, this Zach, I can take that. So as you know we recently completed a pretty material restructuring of the business back in early June, and we’re continuing to work to show our liquidity, capital resources and improve the balance sheet. So we are looking at a number of levers that we can pull to do that.

As we mentioned earlier in the call, it’s critical that we continue to invest in our brands and we’re going to ramp spending in both sales and marketing. So we wanted to make sure that we had certainty around that path on the operation side.

We want to be utilizing ATM in near term, but do expect to raise capital in the future, if that’s where you’re headed with the question. So we made a decision to bring greater certainty to our liquidity position and if you recall, it wasn’t 90 days ago when we were issuing press releases around bringing [ph] covenants. We were living on wavers at the time, prior to getting our new credit facility in place.

So continuing to move to this restructuring, we’ve been equitizing the balance sheet in the public markets, which can be a messy process, but we are going to take further steps to continue to clean up and de-risk our balance sheet.

Doug Miehm

That’s pretty sure, thanks.

Operator

This concludes the question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Zach George for any closing remarks.

Zach George

Thank you, operator and thank you all for joining. We are grateful for your support and attention today. We look forward to updating you on our future progress. Thank you.

Operator

This concludes today’s conference call. You may disconnect your lines. Thank you for participating and have a pleasant day.

Credit: SeekingAlpha

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