NSLC Announces First Quarter Financial Performance

Halifax, August 25, 2020 ­­– The NSLC released its first quarter financial results today for April 1 to June 28, 2020, reporting a 6.8% increase in earnings.

“This was an unprecedented quarter for us,” said Greg Hughes, President & CEO. “We adjusted our business to continue to provide service to Nova Scotians during the pandemic and we’re happy we were able to keep our doors open.”

Sales overall were up 5.3 % to $184.2 million with an increase in both beverage alcohol and cannabis sales. Beverage alcohol sales were up 5 % to $166.8 million and cannabis sales were up 7.8 % to $17.3 million.

The continued change in shopping patterns first experienced in late March continued with customers purchasing larger package sizes in order to make fewer trips to stores. This was reflected by a 24.4 % decrease in the number of transactions but a 46.4 % increase in the average basket size compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year. Sales to licensees (bars, restaurants and pubs) were down substantially ($12.3M or 88.9 %) due to operational restrictions related to the pandemic.

While this was an unprecedented quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees across the business maintained their commitment to giving back to communities across the province.

With food security a greater concern than ever, the generous contributions of customers in our stores, suppliers, employees and Local 470 of the NSGEU, raised almost $183,000 for Feed Nova Scotia during this quarter. This was the largest fundraising effort in the history of Feed Nova Scotia’s corporate fundraising. Customers also generously contributed donations in our stores to raise $75,000 for the communities affected by the tragedy in Portapique.

“It’s critical that we come together for the good of Nova Scotia,” Hughes said. “I’m tremendously proud of the efforts of the entire team. Our people are dedicated to the communities where they live and work and deliver on that commitment every day.”

As we continue to do our part to keep beverage alcohol and cannabis out of the wrong hands, our diligent front-line employees asked for valid photo ID almost 368,000 times from customers who appear to be under the age of 30, and refused service 4,787 times.

Q1 Business Highlights

  • Raised $182,843 for Feed Nova Scotia through the efforts of employees and generous contributions of our customers and vendor partners
    • NSGEU Local 470, which represents retail, Distribution Centre and Administrative Support workers donated $12,000
    • Vendor partners donated more than $100,000
    • Our store in New Minas was the top fundraising store at $4540
  • Raised $75,000 for the families in the communities affected by the tragedy in Portapique. Our top five fundraising stores were: New Minas, Sydney River, Bayer’s Lake, Fall River and Kingston


  • Invested in 19 stores in the NSLC retail network:
    • Completed renovations at Downsview Plaza in Lower Sackville, East New Glasgow and Pictou
    • Designed and installed the modular cannabis store in Liverpool, the first of 14 new cannabis stores
    • Commenced renovations in Antigonish.
    • Enhanced the Cool Zones, which provide chilled beer, ready to drink and wine products, in 14 stores

Local Product Sales Highlights

The growth in local industry continues to be strong as producers create innovative products and expand their businesses and quality offerings.

  • Nova Scotia ready-to-drink products experienced another period of extremely strong growth with sales increasing by 115.7% to $7.2 million. This strong growth was driven primarily by vodka coolers.
  • Nova Scotia craft beer sales grew by 0.1% to $4.8 million. The NSLC now lists products from 30 local breweries, up from five breweries just five years ago.
  • Nova Scotia spirit sales grew by 15.4% to $2.3 million. This category has experienced steady growth over the last couple of years.
  • Nova Scotia wine sales declined by 7.6% to $2.6 million.
  • Nova Scotia cannabis sales declined by 12.7% to $2.6 million with the introduction of larger package sizes from out of province that carry a lower per gram price.

Financial Highlights (compared to the same period last year):

  • Net income (earnings) totaled $64.1 million; up $4.1 million or 6.8%.
  • Total sales were $184.2 million; an increase of $9.3 million or 5.3%, due to increased beverage alcohol and cannabis sales.
  • Cannabis sales were $17.3 million, an increase of 7.8%.
  • Beverage alcohol sales were $166.8 million, an increase of 5%.
  • Retail customer transactions (purchases) for beverage alcohol were down 24.6%, however the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 47.2% to $44.72.
  • The total volume of beverage alcohol sold was up 4.1%.
  • Retail customer transactions for cannabis were down 22.9%, however the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 39.7% to $49.91.


Q1 2020/2021 2019/2020
Sales Volume (Hectolitres) 209,153 201,005
Spirits $44,192,393 $39,731,839
Wine 33,395,011 35,440,475
Beer 67,425,990 70,536,040
Ready-To-Drink 21,702,739 13,091,766
Cannabis 17,317,622 16,066,790
Non-Liquor 41,168 23,753
Total Sales by Category $184,174,924 $174,890,664
Gross Profit $95,231,090 $89,682,711
Store Operating Expenses (18,170,233) (17,219,762)
Gross Operating income $77,060,857 $72,462,949
Other Corporate Expenses & Other earnings (12,942,896) (12,434,823)
Income from Operations $64,117,962 $60,028,126


Sales by Channel Sales Change
NSLC Stores $159.1M $15.1M (10.5%)
Licensees (bars/restaurants/pubs) $1.5M $12.3M (- 88.9%)
Agency Stores (independently owned) $19.1M $6.3M (49.7%)
Private Wine and Specialty Stores $3.0M $0.6M (- 17.6%)
Other Wholesale $0.1M $0.1M (- 47.1%)
Online $1.3M $0.9M (259.6%)

Operating Expense Ratio

The NSLC’s operating expense ratio for the fiscal year, including amortization and depreciation, was 16.9% compared to 17.0% reported the prior year.

Board Expenses

The NSLC released the Board of Directors’ expenses for the fiscal year. These expenses amounted to $0.75 per Director, per day. An electronic version of these expenses is available HERE. 

About the NSLC

The NSLC manages the safe and responsible sale of beverage alcohol and recreational cannabis in Nova Scotia, returning 100% of its profits to government to help fund key public services. The NSLC aspires to be a trusted retailer, partner, employer, and responsible industry steward that is helping to create a stronger Nova Scotia. For more information about the NSLC, please click HERE. 

For more information please contact:

Beverley Ware

Communications Advisor


O: (902) 450-5920

M: (902) 456-5040



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