Cannabis producer Tilray closing its Nanaimo operations

Major marijuana producer Tilray has announced it will shut down operations in Nanaimo and focus cultivation in B.C. at its Broken Coast facility in Duncan.

The Canadian company will close its office and facility at Duke Point by spring 2022 as it introduces operational efficiencies, spokeswoman Berrin Noorata said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Tilray opened its Duke Point operations in April 2014 and quickly became a key employer in the city, hiring workers such as horticulturists, customer service representatives and others dedicated to packaging and shipping.

The closing announcement follows Tilray’s merger in May with Aphria Inc., another large-scale cannabis producer. As a result, the company now “operates the leading state-of-the-art cultivation and manufacturing facilities across Canada and internationally,” Noorata said.

The shutdown in Nanaimo will be carried out in phases, she said.

“We will work with employees interested in transitioning and seeking opportunities at our nearby facility at Broken Coast.”

“Tilray will concentrate its local B.C. cultivation in the Broken Coast facility on Vancouver Island, and its international production and manufacturing in Portugal and Germany.”

The publicly traded company is aiming to reach $4 billion in revenue by the end of the 2024 fiscal year. It hopes to increase its retail share in Canada to 30 per cent from 16 per cent.

Operations include Broken Coast, Aphria One and Aphria Diamond both in Leamington, Ont., High Park in London, Ont., Tilray in Cantanhede, Portugal and Aphria RX GmBH in Neumunster, Germany.

“By focusing local cultivation and manufacturing at the remaining sites across Canada, Tilray will be able to operate more efficiently, save costs, and deliver the highest-quality products to its patients and consumers all while driving growth and shareholder value,” Noorata said.

Kim Smythe, chief executive of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said, “I understand that they have some 300 employees there that will be looking for new work in the next six months.”

In today’s climate, there are so many labour shortages in so many sectors and industries, he said. “This is not going make as much of a bump as it would normally.”

The hospitality sector is particularly short of labour, Smythe said. Other positions which may attract Tilray employees could include working as truckers, courier drivers, in warehouses and in retail trade.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said: “On behalf of council, I am very disappointed to have learned that Tilray will be closing its cultivation facility and offices in Nanaimo.”

Employees and others will be seriously impacted by the closure, he said.

“However, I am confident that given our demand for industrial lands, Nanaimo will welcome a new and significant employer soon.”

Tilray is a traded on NASDQ and TSX: TLRY.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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