NSLC Releases Year End Financial Performance

Halifax, June 15, 2021 ­­– The NSLC released its year-end financial results today (April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021), reporting a 11.0% increase in earnings for a total of $274.5 million. Total sales for the year were $793.1 million, with beverage alcohol sales of $707.0 million and cannabis sales of $86.0 million.

“A full year in pandemic mode certainly impacted our financial performance,” said Greg Hughes, President & CEO. “I am tremendously proud of the NSLC team who have shown their resiliency and ability to adapt, while supporting each other, our communities and our customers.”

Customers’ purchasing patterns changed this fiscal year with the pandemic, resulting in growth in overall sales. This was reflected by an overall 8.9% decrease in the number of transactions and a 23.1% increase in the average value of those transactions.

During the year, sales to Private Wine and Specialty Stores were up 7.9% and sales to Agency stores were up 35.7%, contributing to an overall 7.9% increase in beverage alcohol sales. Sales to licensees (bars, restaurants, and pubs) were down 52.9% compared to the same time last year, especially in the Halifax area, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We were pleased to see our customers continue to be passionate about supporting our local industry partners,” Hughes said. Sales of local beverage alcohol and cannabis increased 30.2% overall to $92.5 million.

We made great strides developing our cannabis assortment and added 12 new cannabis stores to our network to offer Nova Scotians an expanded safe supply of cannabis. Sales increased 21.1%, and the average price per gram decreased by 28% to $7.16, making NSLC cannabis prices more competitive with the illicit market. Customers also purchased more 28-gram pack sizes that carry a lower price per gram. This contributed to a 25.0% increase in the average dollar value of each transaction.

We invested $8.8 million in our store network this fiscal year, which included $5 million revitalizing our beverage alcohol stores and $2.4 million expanding the number of cannabis locations. We adapted customer education to deliver initiatives through digital content and invested $4.3 million in information technology that supports current and future business initiatives.

The NSLC has a long history of giving back to our communities by making meaningful social and economic contributions. We’re extremely proud to have raised, with the support of our partners and customers, a record $1 million for organizations that support stronger communities. We also supported MADD Canada’s Schools Program that educates students on the dangers of impaired driving and worked with the organization to deliver a new digital summer campaign.

“This was an unprecedented year in many ways,” Hughes said. “We navigated through it together, executing on our strategic priorities, adapting our operations and providing a healthy return to the province.”

YE Business Highlights

  • Our diligent front-line employees asked customers who appeared to be under the age of 30 for valid photo ID 2.2 million times and refused service 22,835 times.
  • Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our team members, customers, and vendors we raised a record $485,000 to support the IWK Health Centre, $78,000 for Make-A-Wish Canada and $25,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
  • We came together with our customers and vendors to provide Feed Nova Scotia with just over $263,000, enough to provide almost 395,000 meals - supported by a generous $12,000 donation from Local 470 of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union, which represents our Retail, Distribution Centre, and some head office employees.
  • We carried out renovations or upgrades at 13 beverage alcohol stores across the province:
    • Antigonish, Baddeck, Berwick, Bridgewater, Downsview, East New Glasgow, Mahone Bay, New Waterford, Pictou, Port Hood, Sheet Harbour, Sydney Mines and Tantallon
  • We opened 12 new cannabis stores:
    • Annapolis Royal, Baddeck, Barrington Passage, Elmsdale, Glace Bay, Liverpool, Mill Cove, Port Hawkesbury, Sheet Harbour, Tacoma, Tantallon, and Tatamagouche
  • Reduced the average price per gram of cannabis 28% compared to the previous fiscal year.


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

  • Net income (earnings) totaled $274.5 million; up $27.2 million or 11.0%.
  • Total sales were $793.1 million; an increase of $66.9 million or 9.2%, due to increased beverage alcohol and cannabis sales.
  • Cannabis sales were $86.0 million, an increase of 21.1%.
  • Beverage alcohol sales were $707.0 million, an increase of 7.9%.
  • Retail customer transactions (purchases) for beverage alcohol were down 9.6%, however the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 22.7% to $39.37.
  • The total volume of beverage alcohol sold was up 5.8%.
  • Retail customer transactions for cannabis were down 3.1% and the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 25.0% to $43.41 as customers purchased more larger package sizes that carry a lower price per gram.


Local Product Sales Highlights

Beverage Alcohol

  • Nova Scotia Ready to Drink products continued to lead the growth in local product sales with a 78.5% increase in sales to $28.6 million. This strong growth was driven by low calorie vodka coolers and sweeter coolers recently introduced to the market.
  • Nova Scotia craft beer saw growth of 10.8% to $22.3 million. We now list products from 86 local breweries, up from 47 breweries five years ago.
  • Nova Scotia spirit sales experienced strong growth of 19.1% to $11.2 million.
  • Nova Scotia wine sales saw consistent growth of 8.2% to $13.6 million.


  • Nova Scotia cannabis sales continue to be extremely strong with 30.1% growth in sales to $16.9 million. Nova Scotia cannabis accounts for 19.6% of all cannabis sales.





Sales Volume (Hectolitres)




$ 192,169,673

$ 173,818,296







Ready to Drink









Total Sales by Category

$ 793,069,018

$ 726,167,379

Gross Profit

$ 405,847,745

$ 373,311,011

Store Operating Expenses



Gross Operating Income

$ 326,681,052

$ 300,628,608

Other Corporate Expenses & Other Earnings



Income from Operations

$ 274,482,705

$ 247,278,474



Sales by Channel



NSLC Stores

$683.2 M

 $72.4 M (11.9%)

Licensees (bars/restaurants/pubs)

$23.3 M

 $26.2 M (-52.9%)

Agency Stores (independently owned)

$68.0 M

 $17.9 M (35.7%)

Private Wine and Specialty Stores

$14.7 M

$1.1 M (7.9%)

Other Wholesale

$0.6 M

$0.1 M (-14.8%)


$3.3 M

 $1.8 M (127.5%)


Operating Expense Ratio

The NSLC’s operating expense ratio for the fiscal quarter, including amortization and depreciation, was 16.6% compared to 17.4% reported the prior year.

Board Expenses

The NSLC released the Board of Directors’ expenses for the fiscal year. These expenses amounted to $1.10 per Director, per day. An electronic version of these expenses is available at myNSLC.com.

About the NSLC

The NSLC manages the safe and responsible sale of beverage alcohol and 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 visit our website at myNSLC.com.

For more information please contact:

Beverley Ware
Communications and Media Relations Manager

O: (902) 450-5920

M: (902) 456-5040




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