Business Bulletins News

IW Business Bulletin: February 11, 2022

7shifts closes $80 million in new funding

Saskatoon-based tech startup 7shifts announced on Feb. 10 the company has closed another round of funding worth $80 million. Led by Softbank, the round included participation from Ten Coves Capital and Enlightened Hospitality. 7shifts provides software services for the restaurant industry to maximize workforce efficiency, including scheduling and task management.

“We are proud to welcome SoftBank as our newest investor and deeply appreciate their confidence in our mission to simplify team management and improve performance for restaurants,” said Jordan Boesch, CEO of 7shifts. “Over the past two years, restaurants have dealt with countless challenges, and now more than ever need technology to streamline operations, empower workers and improve team retention. Our growth demonstrates that both independent and multi-unit brands are quickly adopting best-of-breed platforms to navigate the challenging labor market; and by building a first-class suite of solutions specifically tailored to the needs of restaurants, we’ve helped operators become employers of choice, all while controlling costs and building operational efficiency.”

In 2021, 7shifts added more than 10,000 locations to its platforms. The company will use the invested funds for growing team capacity and building new products.

7shifts is based in Saskatoon with offices in Toronto and New Jersey.

Cubbi closes financing round

Another Saskatoon-based startup, Cubbi, announced the closure of $1.35 million financing round led by Conexus Venture Capital Inc. with participation from existing investors and government partners.

Cubbi, an Internet of Things (IoT) company, offers a internet-enabled multi-user fridge solution for food storage in communal settings along with a proprietary food delivery platform. The company will use the capital to build its team and accelerate its adoption into markets outside Saskatoon.

Ceres Global Ag Corp. reports Q2 earnings

Ceres Global Ag Corp. reported its Q2 earnings on Feb. 10, reporting the company’s strongest second quarter in its history. Gross profits increased by 147 per cent to $16 million US, with net income of $4 million US or $0.13 per share. The company’s Northgate, Sask. canola crushing project saw $10.1 million US in down payments for equipment, and more design and engineering work. The project is on schedule for completion in summer 2024.

“A strong second quarter capped the best six-month period in Ceres’ history,” said Robert Day, Ceres president and CEO. “Despite smaller crops and lower inventories across the industry, we continued to find needed supply for key customers and consistently delivered high quality product on time. Key to our success again this quarter was our solid operational execution and strategic positioning ahead of the 2021 crop year. As a result, we achieved higher net trading margins, higher gross profit and a much-improved bottom line. Contributing to our positive results was our recently expanded soybean crush plant in Jordan, Manitoba, which ran at full capacity during the quarter and produced the best financial results in the plant’s history.”

Cameco reports Q4 earnings and commits to restart operations in Northern Saskatchewan

Cameco released its Q4 earnings on Feb. 9, reporting Q4 net earnings of $11 million (adjusted net earnings of $23 million) and an annual net loss of $103 million (adjusted net loss of $98 million). The company also reported $1.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments, $996 million in long-term debt, and a $1 billion undrawn credit facility.

Cameco noted its success in securing long-term uranium contracts, securing another 70 million pounds since the beginning of 2021. Due to these contracts and market conditions, Cameco also confirmed it will restart production at both its McArthur River/Key Lake and Cigar Lake operations. Cameco will begin to ramp up production at McArthur River/Key Lake in 2022 and throughout 2023 with a goal of 15 million pounds per year by 2024. Cigar Lake will also commence production in 2022, with a goal of 15 million pounds for the year.

“Our results reflect the very deliberate execution of our strategy of full-cycle value capture. We have been undertaking work to ensure we have operational flexibility, we are aligning our production decisions with the market fundamentals and our contracting portfolio, and we have been financially disciplined. Since 2016, with our planned and unplanned production cuts, inventory reduction and market purchases, we have removed more than 190 million pounds of uranium from the market, which we believe has contributed to the security of supply concerns in our industry,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco president and CEO.

Equitable Bank buys Saskatoon’s Concentra Bank

Equitable Bank (a wholly owned subsidiary of Equitable Group Inc.) announced on Feb. 7 that it has entered into an agreement with Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan (SaskCentral) and Concentra Bank (Concentra) to become the majority interest in Concentra.

Equitable Bank will acquire SaskCentral’s 84 per cent common share equity interest, with support agreements to additional Concentra shareholders retaining the majority of the remaining 16 per cent of common shares. These agreements will allow Equitable to acquire 100 per cent of Concentra for $35.7 million to book value of common equity. This results in a total purchase price of $470 million, based on Concentra’s book value at November 30, 2021.

“Acquiring Concentra strengthens Equitable’s position as Canada’s Challenger Bank by adding scale, talent, customer and partner relationships that will allow us to better serve our purpose of driving change in Canadian banking that enriches people’s lives. This is one of the most important and consequential transaction in our 50 plus history, and it accelerates our growth plan by several years,” said Andrew Moor, president and CEO at Equitable.

Concentra Bank operates under the trade name Wyth Financial, providing wholesale banking and trust solutions to 90 per cent of Canadian credit unions outside of Quebec.

Farm Credit Canada shares outlook for 2022

Farm Credit Canada released its 2022 economic outlook on Feb. 7, predicting “challenges impacting the food supply chain will continue but the demand for commodities and food means there is opportunity for growth, indicating a need for farms, agribusinesses and food processors to innovate and manage risk.”

The outlook also suggests that grain, oilseed and pulses will see continuing strong prices, “due in part to the low national and global supply of these commodities amplified last year by the drought in western Canada.”

“There is plenty of optimism for this sector looking at the year ahead; however, two of the biggest economic trends that could impact profitability are rising crop input costs and the impact of global political tensions on trade,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief economist. “I can’t emphasize enough the value of farm management and strategic thinking. Producers need to continue to plan for disruptions like we’ve seen in the past year.”

FCC is also hopeful for the Canadian cattle industry, seeing strong prices in 2022 but a slight decline for hog prices. High feed prices will continue to impact both beef and pork producers.

“While the long-term outlook for Canada’s ag and food industry is positive, there are many factors to keep in mind as operations make their plans, including input costs, trade tensions, variable weather and changing consumer behaviour,” Gervais said. “We encourage producers to stay up-to-date on the important topics and trends that will impact them and take action accordingly.”

Swoop announces expanded service to Regina and Saskatoon

Calgary-based budget airline Swoop, a WestJet subsidiary, announced on Feb. 9 that it will increase service to Regina and Saskatoon in June.

Regina will see two flights per week starting June 16 to Winnipeg, and two flights per week to Toronto starting June 22. In Saskatoon, flights to Winnipeg begin twice weekly June 14, and to Toronto twice weekly starting June 22.

“We saw demand for travel return in a very meaningful way over the holidays, signalling that Canadians are ready to reunite with family and friends,” said Bert van der Stege, head of commercial & finance at Swoop. “The acquisition of six new aircraft in response to anticipated demand will ensure Swoop reconnects more Canadians this summer while accelerating Canada’s economic recovery.”

Standard Uranium hires new president

Vancouver B.C.-based Standard Uranium announced Feb. 7 the company has hired Sean McGrath as president, effective immediately. McGrath will work alongside Standard Uranium CEO Jon Bey to develop the company’s uranium projects in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.

McGrath is a long-time mining executive, working in both exploration stage and producing mining companies. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland and is Chartered Professional Accountant.

A mineral resource exploration company based in Vancouver, B.C, Standard Uranium has focused on the identification and development of prospective exploration stage uranium projects in the Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan merchandise exports hit record high in 2021

The Government of Saskatchewan reported on Feb. 8 that the province’s merchandise exports hit $37.1 billion in 2021, an increase of 24.7 per cent compared to 2020.

“Saskatchewan has a stable, secure supply chain and is providing the food, fuel and fertilizer a growing world needs,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “We will continue to support and expand our export sectors which create good jobs, generate wealth and bring investment to our province.”

The previous record dates back to 2014, when Saskatchewan saw $35.3 billion in exports.

Next week: Nutrien Q4 earnings released February 16, with an earnings call on February 17 at 10.00 am EST.

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