Premium Global Smoking Accessories Manufacturer and Canadian Cannabis Retailer
This High Tide profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
High Tide Inc. (CSE:HITI,OTCQB:HITIF,FWB:2LY) is an Alberta-based, retail-focused cannabis corporation that designs and sells premium-quality smoking accessories to wholesale clients and retail customers. High Tide also sells cannabis products to retail consumers through two business segments operating across six subsidiaries: RGR Canada and Famous Brandz which make up the wholesale segment, and Smoker’s Corner, Grasscity, Canna Cabana and KushBar which make up the retail segment.
RGR Canada is home to High Tide’s manufacturing, wholesale and distribution operations. Since it was founded, High Tide has developed an extensive product catalog that includes over 4,300 SKUs, of which approximately 75 percent are designed in-house, manufactured in Asia and distributed to hundreds of global customers from the company’s 27,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Calgary, Alberta.
High Tide’s second subsidiary, Famous Brandz, designs and manufactures smoking accessories featuring licensed celebrity brands, including but not limited to Snoop Dogg, Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke, Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob characters, the Trailer Park Boys, Sublime and Guns N’ Roses, Beach Bum, Hellboy and Radio Days. High Tide has also developed and launched “Famous X”, a cannabis lifestyle product line that is being offered in convenience stores, gas stations, specialty stores and big-box retailers. High Tide mainly sells its Famous Brandz licensed accessories to customers in the US and where permitted in locations across Canada.
High Tide’s first and founding retail brand, Smoker’s Corner, has 13 retail locations across Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Six of the locations are owned by the company and seven are franchise locations. On average over time, each Smoker’s Corner location has generated C$380,000 per year from the sale of smoking accessories.
High Tide’s newest retail brand, Canna Cabana, offers recreational cannabis products along with High Tide’s wide range of well-known smoking accessories. Canna Cabana is a ground-breaking brand that provides an approachable, playful and sophisticated experience for the retail customer. Canna Cabana staff are on boarded under an industry-leading training program that emphasizes education, customer service and responsibility. To date, 26 Canna Cabana-branded locations have been opened in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, but the company intends to open over 100 more stores across Canada within the next few years.
Finally, High Tide’s third retail brand, KushBar, is in the beginning stages of development. High Tide owns a majority of this new retail brand, which is expected to have four stores in Alberta and a much larger footprint in Ontario. KushBar is expected to provide customers with a similarly comfortable, sophisticated and modern retail experience to Canna Cabana, featuring High Tide’s wide range of accessories and knowledgeable staff, but with the added benefit of the company’s strategic partner striving to secure strong locations in the large Ontario market. To date, two KushBar-branded stores have been opened in Alberta.
High Tide acquired Grasscity.com in December 2018, the world’s number one online retailer of smoking accessories. The website receives approximately 5.8 million site visits annually and over 90 percent of the site’s revenue comes from its customer base in the US. Additionally, Grasscity has a substantial following on social media, its online forums and weekly newsletter.
High Tide is led by a strong and experienced management team and board of directors. High Tide Founder, President, CEO and Executive Chairman Raj Grover notably holds slightly more than 50 percent of the company’s common shares. Grover has over 17 years of experience in building successful companies and leads the industry in manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, since 2009 he has built the largest network of retail stores serving cannabis enthusiasts in Canada.
High Tide’s Company Highlights
- Existing B2B smoking accessories business, featuring proprietary white-labeling programs, which turns retail competitors into wholesale customers.
- Five operating subsidiaries focused on the design, manufacturing, distribution and retailing of smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products.
- RGR Canada has over 4,300 SKUs, with approximately 75 percent designed in-house and manufactured in Asia on a proprietary basis.
- Largest purchase order ever received for cannabis smoking accessories was from Aurora Cannabis (TSX:ACB) in the second half of 2018.
- Famous Brandz works with licensed celebrity brands including but not limited to Snoop Dogg, Cheech and Chong, Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob characters as well as the Trailer Park Boys.
- Since 2009, Smoker’s Corner has grown to become Canada’s largest chain of smoking accessory shops with 14 locations in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia
- 21 current retail cannabis locations under the “Canna Cabana” brand with more than 120 planned across Canada within two years.
- Accessory supply agreement in place with the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
- Acquired Grasscity.com, the world’s number one smoking accessories retailer, which receives approximately 5.8 million site visits annually.
- 90 percent of Grasscity’s revenue is generated by customers in the US.
- High Tide exceeded C$797,000 in cannabis sales on the first anniversary of Canadian cannabis legalization.
A Five Enterprise-Based Business Model
Since the company’s inception in 2009 as an independent smoke shop operator, High Tide has become one of the largest counter-culture chains in Canada and a leading manufacturer and distributor of smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products. To date, High Tide’s success can be attributed to its ability to build brands and to deliver proprietary products through its recognized wholesale and retail channels.
High Tide has five operating subsidiaries that focus on manufacturing excellence, wholesale distribution, brand creation and the establishment of recognizable retail stores. High Tide’s subsidiaries of RGR Canada and Famous Brandz fulfill the company’s B2B orders and offer white-label solutions for corporate clients. The retail segment, featuring Smoker’s Corner, Canna Cabana, Grasscity and the soon-to-be-operational KushBar, provides High Tide with revenue and an established presence across Canada.
Moving forward, it is High Tide’s intention to establish a retail presence within each province in Canada where private cannabis retail opportunities are supported. Each location is expected to offer premium smoking accessories and lifestyle products, selectively purchased cannabis products and a focus on educating customers about pairing cannabis products with the most appropriate smoking accessories in an approachable and sophisticated yet playful environment.
In 2011, High Tide founded its wholly-owned subsidiary, RGR Canada, a vertically-integrated manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of premium cannabis accessories for retailers across Canada. RGR Canada designs approximately 75 percent of its products in-house, contracts for the majority of manufacturing in Asia, and then stores and distributes finished products from its 17,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Calgary, Alberta. In 2019, RGR Canada moved into a new 27,000-square-foot head office, warehouse and distribution center located near the Calgary International Airport.
High Tide has recently also leased a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Las Vegas, Nevada for five years. The warehouse is expected to facilitate the expansion of High Tide’s wholesale business and provides the company with a location to ships its Grasscity orders. The facility also allows the company to pursue the sale of hemp-derived CBD products in the US and internationally.
RGR Canada has set up manufacturing contracts with industry-leading factories in China and has combined nine years of experience in designing and branding smoking accessories to develop several proprietary brands. Its best-known brands are Atomic, Evolution, Puff Puff Pass, Vodka and Zoom Zoom. In total, the company has developed an extensive product catalog that currently includes over 4,300 SKUs of both proprietary and third-party products.
In November 2018, High Tide received a large wholesale purchase order from Aurora Cannabis for a large variety of smoking accessories, which the company is in the process of completing.
“This record purchase order from Aurora is a major milestone for High Tide, a validation of our designs and the beginning of what we expect will be a very important business relationship for our company,” said Grover. “There is no better company than Aurora to have as our largest customer to date, and we look forward to capitalizing on the increased recognition that this order brings to High Tide’s product offering to attract and drive additional growth.”
In 2016, High Tide co-founded Famous Brandz, which is now fully-owned, as a branded smoking accessories company targeting a global customer base. Famous Brandz works with licensors to secure well-known brands including but not limited to Snoop Dogg, Cheech and Chong, Jay and Silent Bob as well as the Trailer Park Boys. High Tide also offers its licensed celebrity products under their in-house brand, Famous X, a lifestyle accessory line for convenience stores, gas stations, specialty retailers and big-box stores across North America.
In the two years since its founding, Famous Brandz has become a dominant manufacturer of branded smoking accessories carried by independent and chain retailers across the globe. Moving forward, High Tide intends to offer new licensed products, product lines and possibly lounge concepts through Famous Brandz.
Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS)
The following month, High Tide signed a master accessories supply agreement with the OCS. High Tide will be providing hand-blown glass smoking accessories from its Famous X line of products over a two-year term, with the option to renew for an additional two years at the OCS’s discretion.
Smoker’s Corner is one of Canada’s largest counter-culture retail chains and has been in operation for over nine years with locations across British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Of its 13 stores, seven are franchises and six are corporate stores. Each location is a reliable source of revenue for High Tide, with average yearly revenues of C$380,000 per year. The best-performing location has generated an average revenue of C$850,000 per year.
Building off of its success with Smoker’s Corner, High Tide has developed a new cannabis retail concept called Canna Cabana. Each location will target High Tide’s existing consumer base and will offer recreational cannabis in jurisdictions that allow private cannabis retail operations. The locations are approximately 1,250 to 2,500 square feet in size.
High Tide has opened 26 locations across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The company has 16 corporate stores and one franchise location in Alberta, three branded locations in Ontario, one corporate store and an e-commerce site in Saskatchewan. High Tide expects to open at least 37 locations in Alberta, the maximum of eight allowable locations in British Columbia and a maximum of 75 allowable locations in Ontario within the next few years.
In July 2019, High Tide received its first delivery of cannabis to its Grand Prairie, Alberta store and commenced cannabis sales. This was shortly followed by two more Alberta stores in Edmonton and Okotoks.
In response to customer feedback, High Tide launched a free recycling program at its Canna Cabana stores for all Health Canada-approved cannabis product packaging. The company accepts any and all cannabis packaging purchased from a licensed retailer.
“We heard from our customers, loud and clear, that they weren’t happy when it came to the excess amount of packaging that is required for cannabis products,” said Grover “Although we have no control over the packaging of cannabis products, we decided that the least we could do was to help collect and recycle it for customers.”
In July 2018, High Tide acquired a majority share of KushBar Inc., a cannabis brand and retail concept intent on serving Canada’s cannabis consumers. High Tide has included the KushBar brand and retail concept in four retail applications submitted to the Alberta Gambling, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC). The company also intends to submit additional retail cannabis applications under the KushBar brand across the country. To date, High Tide has opened two locations in Camrose and Morinville, Alberta and two additional Alberta-based locations are expected to come online in the near-term.
In December 2018, High Tide acquired Grasscity.com, the world’s number one online retailer for smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products. The website is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and receives approximately 5.8 million site visits annually.
“Grasscity is an iconic company with nearly 20 years of invaluable brand equity in the cannabis industry,” said Grover. “It is a natural fit with High Tide since our revenues come from the same product categories – bubblers, grinders, hand pipes, rolling papers, vaporizers and water pipes. With Grasscity, High Tide is now positioned to be a dominant player in both brick-and-mortar and online retail, to go along with being a leader in the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products.”
The site has over 550,000 customers in its database and approximately 90 percent of the company’s generated revenue comes from customers based in the US. The retailer also fulfills approximately 65,000 orders per year. Additionally, Grasscity has approximately 1.1 million recipients in its email database, over 375,000 subscribers, 80,000 dedicated readers of its weekly newsletter and approximately 260,000 followers on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
In addition to their retail business, Grasscity also has over 34 million users on its forum pages. These users generate up to 75 million annual page views and contain over 640,000 cannabis enthusiast members that actively engaged with the topics in the forums.
Since acquiring Grasscity, High Tide has upgraded the e-commerce platform to the Magento 2 (M2) platform. The upgrade allows Grasscity to utilize M2’s increased customization, enterprise-level scalability and relational database management system to provide its visitors with an improved shopping experience. High Tide also upgraded Grasscity’s warehouse management system to ensure faster delivery times.
High Tide’s Partnerships
High Tide has partnered with Halo Labs Inc. (OTC:AGEEF), a cannabis extraction company that develops and manufactures cannabis oils and concentrates. High Tide is expected to introduce Halo’s products through its extensive distribution networks in Canada, the US and Europe.
High Tide’s Management Team
Raj Grover — Founder, President, CEO and Director
Raj Grover is the founder of High Tide and its subsidiary companies of RGR Canada, Smoker’s Corner and Canna Cabana and is the co-founder of High Tide’s newest subsidiary, Famous Brandz. Grover started Smoker’s Corner in 2009 and RGR Canada in 2011 and has been operating profitably as a pioneer in the cannabis accessories industry ever since. Currently, he is a national franchisor and entrepreneur with 17 years of experience in building and selling successful companies. He leads the industry in manufacturing capabilities and has built the largest network of comparable retail stores in Canada.
Alex Mackay – COO
Alex Mackay joined the High Tide family in February 2019 after a 21-year career at Shaw Communications, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications organizations. He is known as an adaptable leader with a proven track record of driving breakthrough business results. He has extensive operational experience including key roles as Senior Director of Contact Centers and Retail Operations, National Director of Field Support Operations and National Sales Director.
Some of his team milestones include the achievement of industry-leading customer satisfaction scores, proven significant step increases to incremental sales and revenues and the creation and implementation of a suite of new standard operational practices adopted within an over 10,000-employee organization.
Mackay’s career and achievements have been grounded in exceptional people practices, including targeted talent acquisition of top performers, building high-performing collaborative teams followed with strong execution. Raised in Victoria, British Columbia, he completed his degree at the University of Victoria and moved with his family to Calgary in 2012.
Nick Kuzyk, MBA — Chief Strategy Officer and SVP Capital Markets
Nick Kuzyk brings over 15 years of experience in investor relations, mergers and acquisitions and business development. From early-stage ventures to large cap corporations, he has developed a balanced expertise comprised of both qualitative and quantitative aspects rooted in strategic communications and financial analysis. He holds an HBA and MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey) at Western University, is the Treasurer of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) and has also completed the CIRI/Ivey Strategic Management of Investor Relations Program.
Andy Palalas — Chief Revenue Officer
Andy Palalas is responsible for developing distribution channels, sourcing new market opportunities and overseeing the revenue portfolio for High Tide. Palalas is a business growth and sales professional with a decade of experience in implementing sales programs for established corporations and startups. Palalas has most recently taken Famous Brandz from inception to one of the leading manufacturers of smoking accessories internationally with his experience in the loyalty marketing sector, a track record of explosive growth in franchise sales and operations and a holistic mastery of ground-level business development through to overarching marketing strategy.
Rahim Kanji, MBA, CPA, CA – CFO
Rahim Kanji joined High Tide in May of 2019 and has over 18 years of experience in various industries from start-up technology to enterprise oil and gas. Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer at Kudos Inc. and previous to that role, he was the Controller at Solium Capital. His areas of expertise include financial management, profitability, corporate efficiencies, meeting business goals and corporate financial reporting. He has an additional interest in corporate governance, risk management, investor relations and regulatory compliance, as well as managing corporate facilities and business processes. Kanji also has experience with international growth and expansion, mergers and acquisitions and strategy development. He holds a B.Com from the University of Alberta and MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.
Nader Ben Aissa — External Legal Counsel
Nader Ben Aissa is a lawyer at Hooey and Company Lawyers in Calgary, Alberta. He specializes in commercial law with a wide range of experience in corporate governance, equity financing, and mergers and acquisitions. In 2013, Nader received his Doctor of Law (JD) from the University of British Columbia. Two years later, Ben Aissa was called to the Bar and was admitted as a Member of the Law Society of Alberta.
Nitin Kaushal — Director
Nitin Kaushal is a managing director in the Deals practice of PwC Canada’s Corporate Finance group. He has over 25 years’ experience in the financial investing, life sciences, consumer healthcare, health care services and medical device industries. In addition, he has a strong involvement with PwC’s Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences team to bridge the financial and scientific areas.
Kaushal’s past experience includes board of directorships with pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and he has also held senior roles in investment banking, venture capital and consulting firms. In 2008 to 2009, he was ranked as the Top Healthcare Investment Banker by Brendan Wood International. He has performed over 40 merger, acquisition, strategic advisory, and licensing assignments and was an advisor to two of the top five global pharma companies and M&A advisor on one of the top licensing deals in Canadian healthcare history.
Arthur Kwan — Director
Arthur Kwan has over 18 years of investment banking, capital markets and private equity experience, most recently as the Managing Director of Investment Banking for Paradigm Capital. Prior thereto, he has held senior investment banking positions with Scotia Capital, Peters & Co. and PI Financial. Kwan has led the origination, negotiation and execution of many investment banking mandates, including private placements, initial public offerings, short-form prospectus offerings, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, with an aggregate transaction value of over $1 billion.
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