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New Brunswick marijuana retailer Cannabis NB reported its second profitable quarter in a row as sales climbed during the pandemic.

The Crown corporation issued unaudited financial statements showing a profit of $1.4 million over the last three months. That’s up from $500,000 over the previous three months. 

It’s the second time the agency has reported a quarterly profit since it began operation in October 2018 with the legalization of recreational cannabis. 

“Cannabis NB has made a very positive turnaround to date,” Patrick Parent, president and CEO of Cannabis NB, said in a news release announcing the figures Wednesday afternoon. 

Parent attributed the change to aggressive cost-cutting measures, renegotiated supplier prices and weekly promotions. 

Patrick Parent, president and CEO of Cannabis NB, attributed the change to cost cutting, renegotiated supplier pricing and customer promotions. (CBC)

Cannabis NB reported sales of $16.3 million over 13 weeks ending June 28, up 78.7 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Total sales have been climbing in recent months, from  $11.0 million in the quarter ending Dec. 29, to $14.0 million over the first three months of 2020 and then $16.3 in the most recent quarter. 

Higher profits come as the provincial government continues to consider offloading the corporation.

Eight companies submitted proposals to take over operation, distribution and sales, the province announced in January. 

The proposals were to be evaluated by a third-party fairness monitor and the province suggested at the time a decision could be made by this spring. 

Vicky Deschênes, a spokesperson for the province’s Finance Department, said in an email Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted its work to assess responses to a request for proposals issued last year. 

“That being said, it is still possible that a decision will be made by the end of the summer,” Deschênes wrote. 

Premier says process will continue

Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Wednesday that the province will continue to examine the proposals despite the turn to profitability.

“Having a return that is positive right now will be reflected in the value of Cannabis NB, but the process will continue,” Higgs said. 

“Are these numbers ones that we can say are going to be long term? Is it related to the situation we’re in right now? All of the factors, including the current performance, will be part of the net assessment of the future value.”

Cannabis NB operates 20 stores in 15 communities across the province. The corporation reported 96.7 per cent of its sales were made in those stores over the last three months.

It has about 195 employees, though it does share some services with NB Liquor.

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