Influential firms lend significant clout to one of the city's fastest growing sectors.
CALGARY , Feb. 10, 2020 /CNW/ - Amidst continued economic uncertainty, a forward-thinking network of professional firms is helping to pave the path forward for Calgary's burgeoning cannabis industry. During an exclusive, invite-only fireside discussion and keynote on February 20 th, 2020, industry experts from MNP, MATCO Financial, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Iridium Risk Services and Laurel Hill Advisory Group will meet with some of the city's most influential growers, distributors and retailers to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead.
" Calgary has been a bit of an afterthought in the cannabis discussion," says James Fuerderer , a consulting partner with MNP. "Especially with most of the major players being headquartered in eastern Canada ."
"But the city is home to many innovative entrepreneurs, a burgeoning craft cannabis market and really has the potential to shake up the industry. It shouldn't be underestimated. We're looking to give local business owners the network and tools they need to move forward with confidence."
Taking the Bite Out of Edibles
The recent legalization of cannabis edibles and extracts will be one of the most important focuses of the round table; largely because it's opened the door for a flood of auxiliary industries and organizations to dip their toes in the cannabis waters. With potential new entrants dipping their toes into cannabis products, incumbents branching out into the food and beverage, cosmetics and supplement spaces — and a predicted influx of joint ventures throughout the industry — making sense of the new regulations will be vital to capitalizing on these new opportunities.
"Meeting the strict mandates of the Cannabis Act has been and will continue to be a major stumbling block for all sorts of enterprises as they race to seize the first-mover's advantage," says Gregory Turnbull , a lawyer and partner with McCarthy Tétrault LLP. "Businesses understandably want to differentiate themselves in the minds of consumers, but they risk significant financial, legal and reputational risks by not prioritizing compliance out of the gate."
Adds Frances Weeks , Managing Partner at Iridium Risk Services Inc., "The edibles market will undoubtedly be a major driver — maybe the major driver as the industry matures. But this is uncharted territory. Businesses need to be sure products, marketing and sales meet both regulator and shareholder mandates, which certainly won't be easy."
Finding the Right Financing
Accessing sustainable sources of financing is another area cannabis entrepreneurs need to prioritize as they establish themselves in the marketplace. What seemed like a veritable gold rush in the lead up to legalization in 2018 has cooled significantly after supply shortages, lower sales figures and continued uncertainty in the year that followed. With investors increasingly selective about the companies they do business with, the onus is on leaders to demonstrate effective financial prudence and a clear path to profitability.
"Establishing a brand-new consumer product market is a difficult proposition any way you look at it," says Anil Tahiliani, Vice President and Portfolio Manager at MATCO Financial. "But with limits on the ability to build brands, differentiate and promote products, a single supplier and tons of competition in the marketplace, cannabis has proven to be exceedingly challenging.
"That's not to say it's impossible to woo investors — but it does require a strategic approach and the right minds and experience at the table to close the deal."
The cannabis sector is also going through an unprecedented period of consolidation right now, as larger firms are targeting mergers and initial public offerings to grow and fund their operations. Businesses of all sizes and in all corners of the industry face the question of whether they should look to acquire or be acquired to maximize the return on their investment.
"Businesses certainly need to be aware of the trends around them and how that impacts their ability to compete," says Stephanie MacVicar , Vice President, Business Development at Laurel Hill Advisory Group. "Interest is fierce, not only in the local and national market but also across the border in the U.S. People may feel pressure to follow the tide, but at the end of the day, everyone needs to look at their own unique situation and ensure they position themselves to succeed in the near- and long-term."
Building Strong Networks
The cannabis market is still relatively small — especially in Calgary — and businesses are all competing for a share of the same pie. However, the event hosts emphasize the rising tide's power to raise all boats. Above all, they hope to help business owners build their networks and relationships and bring this tight-knit community even closer together.
"The market is growing and evolving at an incredible speed. Everyone can benefit from sharing their collective wisdom and ideas," says Fuerderer. "Whether it results in new or stronger partnerships, the formation of industry advocacy groups or simply just a better idea of how to raise Calgary's profile on the national stage — we have no doubt that getting all these innovators together in one room will generate valuable insights and creative ideas moving forward."
SOURCE MNP LLP
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