High Times Selects Retail Veteran Peter Horvath as CEO Ahead of New Stock Listing
High Times Set to Expand Quickly with Cannabis Dispensaries and E-Commerce
Horvath Brings Decades of Retail, Digital Sales Experience including Aerie, Victoria’s Secret
Horvath Also Led IPO Process, Public Investor Comms at DSW, Green Growth Brands
Hightimes Holding Corp., owner of the eponymous magazine, has hired Peter Horvath as its new CEO, tapping a retail industry veteran with extensive e-commerce experience at multiple public companies ahead of the upcoming stock listing.
“All of the retail industry has seen a massive shift in consumer behavior and it’s been accelerated by COVID,” Mr. Horvath said in an interview with IPO Edge. “It’s going to be very exciting to really be the first post-COVID cannabis company.”
Mr. Horvath brings experience from apparel and fashion giants including L Brands, Inc. (Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works), American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (American Eagle & Aerie), DSW (now Designer Brands, Inc.), and, most recently, cannabis dispensary and lifestyle company Green Growth Brands, which went public in November 2018.
The news comes just days after High Times announced the acquisition of 13 active and planned retail dispensaries from Harvest Health and Recreation, Inc. for $80 million in cash and stock, giving the company an almost instant foothold in California’s cannabis market. The Harvest dispensaries will be part of a vertically integrated model High Times has developed through acquisitions. Last month, High Times said it would acquire California-based cannabis holding company Humboldt Heritage Inc. along with its subsidiaries Humboldt Sun Growers Guild and Grateful Eight LLC.
While High Times continues to have key media assets such as the magazine that made the brand famous, the next leg of growth hinges on converting its loyal following to retail customers. “The connection between media and retail is something we need to show respect for and know it’s part of the plan,” Mr. Horvath said.
Mr. Horvath said a key focus will be creating the ideal customer experience in the New High Times stores, which will be branded with the company’s iconic red-and-white logo and aesthetic. “You need constant newness and great staff behind the timeless High Times brand,” he said.
“With cannabis, people aren’t allowed to touch the product in the stores,” he said, adding that it’s important to convert in-person shoppers to online customers. “Stores are where the stickiest customers come from – they make the most purchases. If someone finds you on the web, they aren’t sticky.”
Indeed, some of the most successful retail companies – including Aerie – have been adept at moving customers online. Margins can be much higher for e-commerce given the absence of rent and salespeople, though there are extra costs associated with cannabis delivery.
Mr. Horvath’s experience taking companies public will also be critical as High Times prepares to list on a stock exchange. When DSW went public in the mid-2000s, Mr. Horvath led the process as president of the company. Once public, he also led quarterly investor earnings calls along with regular media and investor outreach.
Mr. Horvath is also unusual in that he also has cannabis experience with Green Growth Brands, which operates The Source dispensaries in Nevada. During 2019, GGB introduced the Camp, Green Lilly, and Seventh Sense CBD and Cannabis brands to over 400,000 consumers in over 200 locations across the country.
High Times has sold public shares but they haven’t yet begun to trade. The company has over 27,000 investors who have subscribed to an offering of up to $50 million which remains open. Some of the shares sold have generated cash that won’t appear on the company’s balance sheet until the stock begins to trade.
“We are pleased to welcome Peter to the High Times family, and to be able to tap into his wealth of experience capitalizing on major consumer brands. There are few executives with his retail experience in the mainstream world and, up to this point, none in the cannabis world with such an accomplished background,” Hightimes Holding Corp. Executive Chairman Adam Levin said. “The team and I would like to thank Stormy for all of her hard work in getting us through this transition period, and we are excited to have her continue working with us on this mission to grow High Times into all the business areas it helped create.”
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief