Business Bulletins

IW Business Bulletin – March 3, 2023

SNDL acquires two liquor licenses to expand into Saskatchewan

Calgary-based SNDL Inc., the largest private-sector liquor and cannabis retailer in Canada, has obtained two liquor licenses (one each in Regina and Saskatoon) through the recent Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority auction. 

The licenses will allow SNDL to expand into Saskatchewan under its Wine and Beyond retail banner. SNDL is now looking for real estate and plans to be operational in the province in the next 18 months.

“We are excited to bring our Wine and Beyond banner into Saskatchewan, specifically in the key markets of Regina and Saskatoon,” said Tank Vander, president of Liquor Retail at SNDL. “Due to Saskatchewan’s low distribution of liquor licenses and high liquor sales per capita, SNDL expects stable and accretive growth in the two new stores. We are eager to introduce consumers to the Wine and Beyond brand, as we believe there is demand in the market for a premium liquor retail model.”

SNDL has 11 Wine and Beyond stores in Alberta, and one in British Columbia. 

Farmers Business Network (FBN) centre opens in Saskatoon

Farmers Business Network (FBN) has opened its new fulfillment centre in Saskatoon. Located in the R.M. of Corman Park, the 198,000 sq-ft. facility is one of the largest agricultural inputs distribution centres in Canada, serving as a primary fulfillment centre for Saskatoon and “smaller logistics nodes” in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 

This major new facility will help ensure FBN can deliver the inputs farmers expect at precise times during the year when they need them,” said Breen Neeser, FBN’s Country Manager for Canada when ground was broken for the facility in June 2022. “This excellent location and workforce in Saskatoon are strong assets as we continue the expansion of our modern and reliable logistics network that helps farmers reduce uncertainty and drive profit potential.”

Arya Resources acquires deposit near La Ronge

Vancouver-based mining firm Arya Resources Ltd. has signed an agreement to acquire the Dunlop historical nickel and copper deposit near La Ronge, Sask.

“The Russian-Ukraine war impact on Russian Nickel-supply coupled with surging demand for battery-grade nickel-sulphide for energy storage uses, is creating a perfect storm for near-term nickel mines,” said Arya Resources CEO Rasool Mohammad, “We have even seen lately that automobile companies are financing or creating partnerships with Ni-Cu projects.”

Helium production begins for North American Helium

North American Helium announced Feb. 27 that its helium facilities near Consul and Eastend, Sask. are now in production. The company is working with Linde as the primary off-taker of the helium production at both facilities.

“In early 2022 we indicated that we planned to double helium production during 2022. With the commissioning of these newest helium production facilities, we’ve done that. NAH now has five helium production facilities in operation and this sets the Company up to significantly grow production again in 2023. Including volumes from these latest helium production facilities, our current production is in excess of 110 MMcf/y,” said Marlon McDougall, President and COO. “We have been very deliberate in our exploration and development planning, including pre-ordering long-lead equipment, so we can efficiently tie-in new wells and begin marketing new helium volumes to customers in this tight supply environment. As we continue to execute on our growth strategy, the Company plans to market approximately 60 MMcf/y of additional helium volumes throughout 2023.”

Gensource Potash signs deal with Nekaneet First Nation

Saskatoon’s Gensource Potash announced Feb. 23 that it has created a new business and investment relationship with Nekaneet First Nation.

“Part of truth and reconciliation means working together as a community and as leaders in local development opportunities. In this case, the opportunity is to participate together in the ownership and development of resource projects in Saskatchewan to the direct benefit of our communities. Against this backdrop, we are very pleased to have Nekaneet First Nation join us in our efforts to evolve the potash industry,” said Mike Ferguson, president & CEO of Gensource. “Our goal is to implement a Saskatchewan project that will bring multi-generational benefits to our shareholders and the local community. Gensource’s Tugaske potash project is located on Treaty 4, encompassing the lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota and Lakota, and homeland to the Metis Nation, and lands included in the traditional territory of Nekaneet First Nation. We are all part of this Treaty and we must take our corporate responsibility seriously to create real change through reconciliation. Nekaneet First Nation is a leader in so many ways, and it is that leadership sensibility that aligns so well with Gensource and its goals.”

The deal will see Nekaneet First Nation acquire equity ownership and a direct interest in Gensource’s potash projects in Saskatchewan. 

“Equity ownership in a strategic asset that will produce a commodity the world needs provides a direct connection and benefit to First Nations in Saskatchewan’s potash industry rather than the status-quo model of ancillary participation in resource projects,” said Alvin Francis, Chief of Nekaneet First Nation. “It creates real ownership, early in the development of the Company where growth can potentially bring multi-generational prosperity to growing communities like Nekaneet First Nation.”

GIFS launches agtech centre in Bangladesh

Saskatoon’s Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) announced the inauguration of a new agricultural technology centre at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur, Bangladesh on Feb 23. The centre comes as part of GIFS’ partnership and memorandum of understanding with the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture’s Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC).

“Collaboration is a key strength of GIFS. We bring diverse partners together to discover, develop and deliver innovative agriculture solutions that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. The inauguration of the agriculture technology centre in Bangladesh is an exciting example of how we are realizing our vision of a world where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food,” said Dr. Steven Webb, CEO at the Global Institute for Food Security.

Based in Gazipur, the new centre will “offer programs to enhance crop breeding and plant improvement, advance soil health and quality, improve soil water retention, increase data management and analytics, and deliver innovations for post-harvest food handling and processing.”

Next Door:

Merit Functional Foods heads into receivership in Manitoba

Winnipeg’s Merit Functional Foods announced Mar.1 that the company has entered receivership. Merit lenders Export Development Canada and Farm Credit Canada have filed an application with the Court of King’s Bench in Manitoba to appoint a receiver for the company. Ryan Bracken, the company’s co-CEO, said in a LinkedIn post that Merit did not have the cash flow required to be profitable.

Founded in 2019, Merit processed pea and canola protein into ingredients for plant-based dairy, meat and beverages. It opened its processing plant at CentrePort in Winnipeg in February 2021.

Coming soon: Information Services Corp. to release Q4 2022 and Year End results on March 14, 2023.

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