Exclusive Interview with GABY, Inc. Founder, Chair and CEO Margot Micallef
Retail-focused cannabis company GABY (CSE: GABY) (OTCQB: GABLF) has continued to focus on building out its team and operations in the California market. Founder, Chair and CEO Margot Micallef last spoke with New Cannabis Ventures in May 2021. More than a year later, she reconnected to share insight into the company’s fleshed out management team and its streamlined operations.
Listen to the entire interview or read the summary below:
Building the Leadership Team
The GABY leadership team has grown over the past year. Simon Lileikis came onboard as the company’s president. Over the course of his career, he oversaw more than 800 Subway locations and helped Starbucks build out 200 locations for Starbucks in an emerging market. Paul Stacey joined the GABY team as CFO. He brings experience with startups and large companies, like Nabisco. Director of Retail Operations Rick Foltz comes to the company with retail experience at companies like Nike, Callaway Golf and The Art of Shaving.
California Market Progress
GABY has a location in San Diego that serves as the foundation of its business. Over the past year, the company has streamlined its operations, cut costs and developed SOPs to guide the business as it moves forward.
Retail is foundational to GABY’s business. The company is focusing on customer service, efficient operations and merchandising strategy to drive its retail business. Additionally, GABY has found delivery to be a significant business opportunity. Previously, the company considered delivery as an adjunct to its retail store, but it discovered that the consumers for retail and delivery are different. Now, delivery is a standalone division of its business. The company initially delivered within a three-hour window. That delivery window is now 90 minutes. Micallef expects GABY will have it down to a 60-minute window before the end of the year.
Lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic created a kind of bubble, according to Micallef. Consumers were largely staying at home, which gave them the opportunity to spend more on cannabis. Those circumstances have changed, and people are now able to leave home and do more. In addition to that shift, the California market experienced repricing of raw material due to oversupply. Prices are stabilizing, but that change presented a challenge across the cannabis supply chain.
The Mankind Acquisition
Following the close of the Mankind Dispensary acquisition in 2021, GABY has consolidated its operations to San Diego. The company closed its Santa Rosa facility and brought all manufacturing and distribution to its San Diego operations. The company no longer does third-party distribution, opting to focus on its retail and delivery operations.
GABY also made changes to its team. It cut some senior people from the team and cross-trained its team members to manage the staffing challenges that have arisen during COVID. Additionally, the company has adjusted its approach to in-store experience and focused on leveraging data to target different consumer segments.
The company now has the foundation of its team and business built. With that infrastructure in place, the company is looking to expand its footprint.
GABY has a hub and spoke strategy in the southern California market. As it looks to expand in the SoCal region, it will focus potential M&A. The team is currently in discussions with other dispensary owners. Any acquisitions the company would make would need to be a cultural fit and either be EBITDA-positive or offer a path to EBITDA positivity.
The company is aiming to carve out its competitive advantage through customer service. GABY focuses on differentiated product display and professional sales consultants to offer consumers a positive shopping experience.
For now, GABY is concentrating on opportunities in the southern California market. If it identified a strong dispensary in northern California, it would consider establishing a hub and spoke strategy in that part of the state as well. Moving beyond the California market is not on the company’s radar in the near future.
GABY is focused on managing its cash flow efficiently, and the company does not currently need to go to the market for more funding at this point, according to Micallef.
The GABY team holds quarterly meetings with its institutional investors and high-net-worth investors to keep them up to date on the company’s progress. Micallef takes the approach of working for the company’s shareholders.
The Path Forward
GABY ended 2021 with $32.4 million in revenue. The company anticipates ending 2022 with a similar number, according to Micallef. She anticipates that the focus on retail will mean higher margin revenue.
Following the Mankind acquisition, the company’s revenue and EBITDA are up, according to Micallef. Along with these metrics, the team is focused on KPIs around workforce stability. Like many other companies, GABY experienced workforce challenges due to COVID. Now, it is investing in educating its team and promoting from within. Additionally, all GABY employees are shareholders.
As the company works through stabilizing its workforce, it is also seeking opportunities to grow its business in southern California and strengthen its relationships with its suppliers, manufacturers and customers. Additionally, the company is working on building strong banking relationships as more banks become cannabis-friendly.
GABY is trading at about half of what its peers are, according to Micallef. GABY is a relatively small company with share prices subject to the same factors as other cannabis operators: market sentiment, execution and awareness. Market sentiment is out of the company’s control, but GABY can focus on execution and awareness. The team is working to deliver on its strategy, and Micallef is dedicating time to telling the GABY story.
To learn more, visit the GABY website. Listen to the entire interview: