Growing Revenue in a Competitive Cannabis Market
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Emblem (TSXV:EMC,OTCQX:EMMBF) is a Canadian cannabis company and a licensed producer (LP) of cannabis, growing through innovation, distribution and brands that resonate with consumers. The company is divided into three units with each targeting different facets of the market; cultivation, medical and adult use.
The company’s cultivation unit focuses on developing intellectual property and cultivating cannabis using a climate controlled closed-box facility in Ontario. Its medical unit develops innovative products and targets patient acquisition through relationships with healthcare providers and using educational campaigns to broaden Emblem’s reach.
Emblem’s adult-use division is dedicated to the company’s expansion into brand-centric products and brands and partnerships with pioneering retailers like Fire & Flower, a corporately-owned retail cannabis-lifestyle brand and store concept poised to serve customers across the country in provinces where private retail is permitted. This retail environment will be valuable for end-user access, generating brand awareness, educating the consumer and driving market share for Emblem’s adult-use brands.
Emblem offers a wide range of products. In addition to dried flower, the company launched four cannabis oils in 2017. Emblem also released their adult-use dried flower and oil brand, Symbl, in July 2018 as well as its first oral dose-metered spray, Emblem Atmosphere, in September 2018.
While Emblem’s focus has been on developing their product line and brands, they have also been working on securing several supply and distribution agreements with Starbuds, Aphria (TSX:APH), GreenSpace Brands Inc. (TSXV:JTR) and Shoppers Drug Mart to establish representation across Canada. The company has also secured supply agreements with both Alberta and Ontario.
In April 2018, Emblem was profiled by Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD, NYSE:TD). The bank announced that Emblem was one of only three cannabis companies its financial advisors would direct clients toward. Experts believe Emblem was chosen because the company is not currently planning on entering the US, a market under increasing political scrutiny. The company has made inroads in Germany, however, through its joint venture partnership with Acnos Pharma GmbH.
Emblem Medical is headed by John Stewart, the former president and CEO of Purdue Pharma US and Purdue Canada. Stewart’s decades of pharmaceutical experience have given him notable insight in dealing with drug regulatory agencies and the inter-country differences in healthcare systems, in addition to an appreciation for cannabis’ therapeutic applications.
- Innovative proprietary technology acquired through partnerships
- Revenue generation underway
- Established patient base of 4,600
- GrowWise™ Health educational unit informs healthcare providers and widens customer base
- Extended Release Tablets from Canntab are going to clinical trials.
- Expanded into Germany through its joint venture partnership with Acnos Pharma GmbH
- Invested in DriveABLE, a global leader in cognitive-based driving impairment evaluations
- Provincial supply agreements with Alberta and Ontario
- Has signed supply agreements with Starbuds, Aphria, Shoppers Drug Mart and Fire & Flower
- Acquired Natura Naturals, a Canadian LP
- Diverse management team with a pharmaceutical, beverage alcohol and marketing background
Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis
The company’s primary focus is targeting the medical and adult-use cannabis sectors in Canada and abroad, through expanding distribution networks, establishing partnerships, and in-house research and development. Emblem is dedicated to providing innovative, high-quality and consistent brands that consumers can trust. To this effect, Emblem launched their new adult-use cannabis brand Symbl in July 2018. Symbl will leverage the company’s experience in the medical cannabis market and will offer consumers a selection of dried flower and oil products. In addition to the increase in flower production, the company currently has a 30,000-square-foot expansion underway at its existing facility that is expected to be operational in Q1 2019.
The major components of this expansion will be a 5,000-square-foot GMP extraction facility, laboratory, and pharmaceutical production facility. The expansion will enable Emblem to produce oils and other advanced formulations to exact standards and at considerable scale. The facility’s GMP certification allows access to international markets.
GrowWise Health, a subsidiary of Emblem and a leading cannabis healthcare service, is the company’s educational arm. Its mandate is to inform patients and healthcare providers on different types of cannabis treatments. GrowWise Health operates in medical clinics where cannabis is prescribed, building relationships with physicians and contributing to Emblem’s 4,600-strong patient count.
Emblem’s investment in education goes beyond healthcare: in April 2018, Emblem and Durham College announced the development of a first-of-its-kind Cannabis Industry Specialization certificate, available in Ontario through GrowWise Health. The program is designed to prepare business graduates for work in the cannabis sector.
Precision Dosage Delivery
John Stewart, President of Emblem Medical, leads the Company’s focus on advanced formulations and precision dosage delivery. Emblem has signed a licensing agreement with Canntab Therapeutics (CSE:PILL), an Ontario-based company specializing in producing time-released cannabis tablets for oral consumption. Per the agreement, Emblem has the exclusive right to Canntab Therapeutics’ patents in Canada, while both companies will collaborate on the manufacturing, regulatory approval and distribution of the Canntab Therapeutics’ Extended Release (XR) Tablet. Extended or sustained release dosage forms are designed to release the active pharmaceutical ingredient at a predetermined rate to maintain a constant drug concentration over a specific period of time, resulting in a longer duration of action from a single dose and often with reduced side effects.
To further the development of the Extended Release Tablet, Emblem’s and Canntab Therapeutics’ R&D teams conducted dissolution testing on the tablets and their results have indicated that the tablets can release cannabinoids consistently over a 12-hour period. Due to the positive results, Canntab Therapeutics will manufacture batches of the tablets that will be used in clinical testing.
“Achieving this milestone marks a key step in development of the oral extended release formulation,” said Emblem’s Medical Division President John H. Stewart. “The production of a reliable, long-acting formulation is complex and often very difficult to achieve. The results of the dissolution study signal that we will proceed with Canntab to the next stage of the Product’s development.”
Emblem is also working with Dosecann to develop a range of cannabinoid dosage formulations designed to ensure patients are able to titrate and administer each dose the exact same way. The objective is to bring dosage-metered oral spray formulations to the market in 2018, followed by dose-controlled vaporizers.
In September 2018, Emblem launched its first oral dose-metered spray, Emblem Atmosphere. The spray ensures a precise dose with each spray from a convenient medication delivery system. The spray comes in four different formulations that can be administered sublingually to deliver 0.1 milliliters of cannabis oil. The spray comes in 15 milliliter canisters that will deliver 150 sprays per bottle.
In June 2018, Emblem and Acnos Pharma GmbH, a German pharmaceutical wholesaler, formed a joint venture under the name Emblem Germany. The purpose of the joint venture will be focused around the exporting Emblem-branded cannabis products from Canada into Germany.
“Emblem was an early licensed producer to apply a pharmaceutical approach to the industry,” said Emblem’s Medical Division President John Stewart. “We wanted to partner with a distributor with an equally strong background in the pharma industry. I am incredibly impressed with the knowledge and depth of understanding of the German pharmaceutical industry that Acnos brings.”
Based on its GDP, Germany is a global leader across multiple industries and has the largest economy in Europe having hit 3.1 trillion euros in 2017. Germany is also a forerunner in the European cannabis industry and is currently the only country that hosts a legalized medical cannabis market. Emblem sees their position in Germany as a strategic access point to the rest of the European market.
Partnerships, Acquisitions and Investments
Most recently, Emblem entered into a five-year wholesale supply agreement with Aphria Inc. Emblem will purchase up to 175,000 kilograms of dried flower and crude cannabis oil that will be further processed at Emblem’s Paris, Ontario facility. This is the first agreement of this magnitude for the industry. The agreement will also give Emblem access to Aphria’s cultivation team who will help grow Emblem’s proprietary strains at Aphria’s Leamington, Ontario greenhouse.
“Emblem’s supply agreement with Aphria marks a critical point in our evolution. It allows Emblem to remain focused on strengthening our core competencies of product innovation, brand building and securing distribution,” said Dean. “Aphria’s support solidifies Emblem’s dedication to become a leading producer of cannabis-derived products in the health and wellness space.”
In August 2018, Emblem and GreenSpace Brands formed a strategic partnership to develop and commercialize CBD-infused health and beauty products for the adult-use cannabis market. Using GreenSpace’s expertise in consumer brand development and distribution, Emblem intends to launch a CBD extract line across a number of verticals, including beauty, health and wellness, supplements, food and beverage.
Under the agreement, Emblem is entitled to receive four percent of revenue from hemp-based product sales and seven percent cannabis-based sales. Each product launched will be “powered by Emblem” to signify the company’s involvement.
“Emblem’s partnership with GreenSpace Brands is an industry first and represents an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the growing CBD market in Canada,” said Emblem CEO Nick Dean. “Through this partnership, we combine GreenSpace’s product innovation and brand building leadership with Emblem’s high-quality cannabis products, licensed manufacturing facility and established distribution channels. Together we aspire to become a market leader in delivering high-quality CBD health and beauty products to Canadians.”
Emblem has also completed an equity investment in DriveABLE Assessment Centres Inc., a global leader in cognitive-based driving evaluations company that measures the risk of impairment. Emblem will support DriveABLE as it tackles the issue of impairment on the roads and in the workplace with a new mobile technology which will focus on a person’s cognitive ability when determining impairment.
“Ensuring patients and consumers use cannabis products safely is of the utmost priority to us, and we are supportive of an evidence-based approach to evaluating impairment,” said Dean. “Our investment and future work with DriveABLE will support much needed research in this field to help ensure safer communities.”
Shoppers Drug Mart
In March 2018, the company announced that it was selected by Shoppers Drug Mart to supply the company with medical cannabis products. Emblem is one of only five companies to sign cannabis distribution deals with Shoppers Drug Mart. The company’s products are expected to be sold online in accordance with the restriction of medical cannabis in retail pharmacies.
Fire and Flower
In April 2018, Emblem entered into a supply agreement with cannabis retailer Fire & Flower. Under the agreement, Emblem will become a preferred Fire & Flower cannabis supplier for three years.
Provincial Supply Agreements
In July 2018, Emblem signed a supply agreement with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) to supply the province with high-quality cannabis products. The following month, Emblem signed a supply agreement with the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) to supply the province with locally-grown, premium-quality cannabis products under Emblem’s adult-use brand Symbl.
Emblem has also entered into a five-year supply and preferred vendor agreement with Compass Cannabis Clinic to become a preferred cannabis supplier for its wholly-owned subsidiary adult-use retail chain Starbuds Canada. Emblem will be supplying Compass Cannabis with high-quality cannabis under their adult-use brand Symbl, which will be sold in all provinces that compass will be operating in.
Compass Cannabis has 40 confirmed leases across Canada which include a mix of operational clinics that are open, in development or are preparing with the intended use of becoming cannabis retail stores. Starbuds has an aggressive expansion plan for the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, having received a cannabis retail license and a conditional license in two provinces. Starbuds has also filed a dozen retail permits across Alberta. Subsequent to this agreement, Emblem invested $1 million in Compass Cannabis.
Nick Dean—President & CEO
Nick Dean is the former CEO of KBS Canada, a fully integrated and award-winning creative advertising agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal. From 2010 to 2017, he led the company through two mergers and a number of substantial client wins, resulting in significant bottom and top-line growth. He earned his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and holds his Bachelor of Commerce Degree from McMaster University. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Toronto chapter and is a mentor for Futurpreneur Canada.
John Stewart—President, Emblem Medical
John Stewart is former president and CEO of Purdue Pharma Canada (1991-2006) and Purdue Pharma USA (2007-2013), one of the largest privately-held pharmaceutical companies in the world. He launched 11 new products, including Ms Contin, OxyContin and Biphentin. He has extensive experience in formulation development, clinical trials and medical communications.
Alex Stojanovic joined Emblem as director of finance in August, 2017. Previously, he held several senior finance positions in Barrick Gold Corporation and Teranga Gold Corporation, including an assignment in Chile overseeing the finance team on a multi-billion-dollar construction project. He has extensive experience in external reporting and compliance, business planning, capital markets activities, internal controls, corporate governance and team development.
Adam Saperia—Chief Strategy Officer
Adam Saperia joined the Emblem team in 2014, stepping into the role of president of the GrowWise Health education vertical. Under his leadership, the division has become one of Canada’s leading providers of medical cannabis education services. As a trusted voice in the emerging cannabis industry, he is a regular commentator on television and radio. He is a passionate philanthropist and serves as the vice chair for the board of directors of National Service Dogs. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.
Daniel Saperia—COO, Emblem Corp
An experienced operational and financial leader, Daniel Saperia has served as Emblem’s COO since the company’s founding. He also held the role of president and COO for a leading Ontario specialty pharmacy. Prior to joining Emblem, he served for 15 years as President and Chief Financial Officer for two leading international manufacturing firms. He is an ardent supporter of his community and is actively engaged in several philanthropic initiatives, including DANI, a Toronto-based not-for-profit that creates opportunities for adults with special needs.
Prior to joining Emblem, Maria guest spent 20 years at Labatt Brewing Co. / Anheuser-Busch Inbev building and driving brand strategy across an extensive portfolio of high-profile brands in a highly regulated market. Her diverse marketing background includes leadership roles in product development and innovation, where she spearheaded the launch of numerous successful brand introductions assessing customer needs across their respective niches.
Kim Horrill – VP of Medical Marketing
Kim Horrill has spent the past 13 years in commercial and medical roles at a major pharmaceutical company in Canada. She is a member of the College of Nurses of Ontario and was an Associate Professor in the faculty of Health Sciences at Western University.
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