Exclusive Interview with Curaleaf CEO Joseph Bayern
Joseph Bayern last spoke with New Cannabis Ventures in December 2020, right before he stepped into the CEO role at Curaleaf (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF). Since then, the company has continued to leverage its large U.S. footprint and look to global opportunities. Bayern checked in to talk about the company’s recent acquisitions and how it is positioned to capitalize on the continuing trend of cannabis legalization. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
A New CFO
Ranjan Kalia is set to join the team as the company’s new CFO, replacing Michael Carlotti who is stepping down due to health issues. Kalia brings with him more than 20 years of public company experience with companies like Pepsi, GE Capital and Virtusa Corp., a company in the technology space.
Curaleaf in the U.S.
Curaleaf has a 23-state footprint, making it one of the largest cannabis MSOs. The company has a well-balanced portfolio with operations in established markets like Colorado and California, as well as exciting growth markets like Arizona and East Coast markets like New York and New Jersey, according to Bayern. He sees the company as well-positioned to capitalize on the continuing legalization, particularly in East Coast states that are on the verge of launching adult-use programs.
Beyond its current footprint, Curaleaf is considering other emerging markets that could be attractive. The team is keeping an eye on markets like Georgia, Virginia and Texas. The company is also considering ways it could continue to grow and participate in the California market.
Curaleaf has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Colorado outdoor cultivator Los Sueños. This acquisition will help the company establish its supply chain in the mature market of Colorado, providing enough biomass to grow its presence in the state.
The Los Sueños acquisition also serves another purpose for the company. Curaleaf will be able to leverage the company’s expertise in growing high-quality, low-cost cannabis to bring down the cost of cultivation across its larger footprint.
The company looks at potential acquisitions across three different tiers, according to Bayern. The first tier of acquisitions is focused on building out Curaleaf’s platform state by state. One state that Bayern suggests is of interest for further expansion is California, where the company currently operates as a manufacturer of Select products. The second tier of acquisitions takes into account the eventual federal legalization of cannabis, as well as current capacity needs. This type of acquisition will help the company build centers of expertise across the cannabis supply chain and across the country.
Curaleaf’s third tier of acquisitions will focus on investments in large addressable market opportunities in the future, according to Bayern. The company’s acquisition of EMMAC is an example of this type of deal.
Curaleaf recently acquired European cannabis operator EMMAC, a deal that helps the company to pursue its goal of being a global leader in cannabis. With the acquisition of this large independent company, Curaleaf gains a distribution position across six European countries, according to Bayern. The company will also be able to leverage EMMAC’s research and clinical studies.
As a part of the EMMAC acquisition, Curaleaf partnered with an institutional investor that believes in the potential for cannabis in the European market, according to Bayern.
The company is also keeping its eye on other markets across Europe and the globe, noting potential opportunities in countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Israel.
Since Bayern’s last conversation with New Cannabis Ventures, Curaleaf has raised approximately $300 million through a combination of equity and debt. The company is in a good position to fund its growth over the next couple of years, according to Bayern.
When it comes to future capital opportunities, Bayern sees SAFE Banking in some form as the next major catalyst for the industry. This legislation could herald an influx of institutional capital into the industry and lower the overall cost of capital for cannabis companies.
Curaleaf is projecting $1.2 to $1.3 billion in revenue for 2021, growth of nearly 100 percent compared to last year, according to Bayern. The company is bullish on its prospects in key markets coming online this year, as well as the additional capacity it is building out in markets like New Jersey and Arizona.
Curaleaf is positioning itself as an omnichannel CPG company. It is looking to build capacity to meet market demand, build out its own dispensary count (currently at 107 and growing to 140 by the end of the year) and expand its distribution through third-party outlets. Curaleaf also looks at metrics focused on its new products, like the percentage of revenue is coming from those new products and how many points of distribution the new products have.
Of course, the company also keeps a close watch on revenue and margin growth. Bayern is confident in the foundation the company is building for this year, next year and beyond.
While it can take time to get state programs up and running, legalization continues to move forward on a state-by-state basis and some aspects of federal legalization, like SAFE Banking, are expected sooner rather than later. Bayern believes Curaleaf is ready to take advantage of these opportunities.
Rooted in Good
In addition to growing its business, Curaleaf invests in resources in the communities in which it operates through the Rooted in Good program. This program has three pillars: diversity, equity and inclusion, according to Bayern.
Rooted in Good supports programs like Second Chance and 420×25. Second Chance is focused on working with states to allow people with minor criminal offenses related to cannabis possession to work in the legal cannabis industry. Curaleaf has committed to making 10 percent of its hires this year through this program.
Through the 420×25 program, the company is aiming to work with 420 different social equity groups, whether to launch new brands or establish supply agreements, by 2025. Curaleaf recently partnered with Bernard Noble and Fab 5 Freddy to launch the B Noble brand. Bernard Noble served seven years of a 13-year sentence for the possession of cannabis equivalent to two joints.
The brand is first launching in Massachusetts and Maryland, and it will eventually roll out nationally. Part of the proceeds from the brand sales will go to supporting nonprofits that help shed light on the importance of social equity.
To learn more, visit the Curaleaf website. Listen to the entire interview: