More changes to the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) management have led to the elimination of two executive roles.
Chief information officer (CIO) Edward Brenton had his position eliminated through executive changes from CEO Sharon Sparkes on Wednesday. Brenton had earned a salary of $131,300 in the position, which he was first hired to in 2013.
The information technology department, formerly headed by Brenton, will now report to the chief financial officer.
Vice-president of sales Trevor Burnell is the other executive who was let go. Burnell was hired to the position in June 2015 and made $154,500 in the role.
The sales and operations department, which previously reported to the VP of sales, will now report to the VP of supply chain management.
NLC marketing and communications director Greg Gill says the moves are not related to the upcoming rollout of cannabis by the NLC. While the VP sales position will not be refilled, the CIO position will be reviewed and could be refilled in the future.
The changes are not going to trickle down to other employees in departments that reported to Brenton and Burnell, Gill said.
“This move effectively merges business activities that support product supply from distribution to sale,” he said.
“This was part of a business restructuring decision at the executive level. Effectively, you have two business units that were reporting to NLC executives that will now report to other existing executive members.”
Finance Minister Tom Osborne says the moves could have been triggered by the government asking its entities to find “efficiencies,” particularly at the management level.
“I’m sure part of it is perhaps that. I didn’t ask the CEO the reasons, but we did ask for efficiencies,” said Osborne.
“It’s operational, but yes, we did ask for efficiencies at our agencies, boards and commissions.”
Meanwhile, concerns were raised in the House of Assembly on Wednesday about the rollout of cannabis sales in the province. The request for proposals from potential retailers of cannabis in the province offered an 8 per cent cut of the revenue from the sale of cannabis.
NDP MHA Gerry Rogers says that margin is too small to support small businesses, which goes against the goals of the cannabis program.
The provincial and federal governments have set out the ideal retail environment for cannabis sales is a stand-alone shop, without the sale of alcohol also on the premises.
Rogers says the 8 per cent cut to the retailer will make it impossible for stand-alone cannabis shops to pay their bills.
“If you look at 8 per cent on a gram of cannabis that may sell for $10 a gram — that’s 80 cents. In order to try and cover costs you’re looking at having to sell 500 grams a day in a stand-alone system,” said Rogers.
“I’ve already heard of small businesses that were hoping to be able to do this that said there’s no way.”
Osborne says the government will review the applications arising from the request for proposals and adjust the 8 per cent figure if necessary.
“It’s uncharted territory. The NLC thought that 8 per cent is enough, but I’m keeping an open mind. We’ll continue to monitor,” said Osborne.
“Based on the number of people that apply under the RFP process, it’ll give us a better indication of the number of people who can made a go of operating a business at 8 per cent.”