NSLC Releases Year End Financial Performance

Halifax, June 16, 2020 – The NSLC released its year-end financial results today for April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, reporting a 4.2% increase in earnings.

“This was a year of strong sales growth and successful business performance that exceeded our projections,” said Greg Hughes, President & CEO. “As a result, we will be returning $247.3 million to the province, $9.9 million more than previous fiscal year.”

Overall sales performance was driven by the first full fiscal year of cannabis sales, the introduction of new cannabis categories, sales growth in all local product categories and an influx of sales resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear of store closures in the early days of the pandemic combined with the closure of restaurants and bars created increased traffic in NSLC stores and Agency Stores.

The NSLC followed all public health advice and protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and the team worked hard to get the necessary precautions in place to protect employees and customers and to avoid any interruption in service. Serving customers safely is a priority for the organization even during challenging times.

“I am tremendously proud of the entire team who worked so hard under stressful conditions,” Hughes said. “They are committed to serving our customers safely and responsibly and they went above and beyond to make that happen.”

Business highlights for the year include investment in 14 stores across the network, introduction of new cannabis categories (edibles & extracts), development of plans to expand the cannabis store network, and entering into significant partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and Feed Nova Scotia.

The NSLC continues to make corporate social responsibility a priority and demonstrates its commitment to responsible sales. Diligent retail employees asked for valid photo identification 2.4 million times from our customers who appeared to be under the age of 30. This a 19 per cent increase over last fiscal year due to a full fiscal year of offering cannabis compared to the previous year. Employees refused service more than 27,000 times, an 81 per cent increase over the previous fiscal year.

Year End Business Highlights

  • Committed $15,000 to an initial partnership agreement with Feed Nova Scotia with 35 employee volunteers packaging 8,000 kg of food.
  • Committed $25,000 to an initial partnership agreement with Habitat for Humanity with 63 employees volunteering on three builds.
  • Supported MADD Canada’s School Assembly Program in 40 schools throughout Nova Scotia, reaching more than 11,000 students in Grades 7 - 12.
  • Employees raised almost 20 per cent more than their goal of $200,000 for the IWK Health Centre, their charity of choice.
  • Employees raised $21,570 for the Children’s Wish Foundation, enough to fulfill two children’s wishes.
  • Cabbioke, the NSLC’s campaign designed to create awareness to enjoy products responsibly, attended 110 parades, events and stores throughout the year with the support of more than 200 employee volunteers.
  • Continued to invest in 14 stores in NSLC retail network:
    • Relocating and finalizing Select stores in Guysborough, Stewiacke, Cheticamp and St. Peter’s
    • Completing five Signature store renovations – Joe Howe Drive, Sydney River, Bridgewater, Amherst and Yarmouth
    • Revitalizing stores in Whitney Pier, Downsview, East New Glasgow, New Waterford and Pictou
  • Implemented measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 including installing Lexan shields at the cash registers, limiting the number of customers in stores to five, encouraging customers to use debit/credit whenever possible and to bag their own purchases.

Local Product Sales Highlights

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

  • Nova Scotia ready-to-drink products experienced an extremely strong year with sales increasing by 101.4% to $16 million. This strong growth was driven primarily by vodka coolers.
  • Nova Scotia craft beer sales grew by 21.5% to $20.1 million. The NSLC now lists products from 30 local breweries, up from five breweries just five years ago.
  • Nova Scotia spirit sales grew by 22.2% to $9.4 million. This category has experienced steady growth over the last couple of years.
  • Nova Scotia wine sales grew by 8% to $12.5 million.
  • Nova Scotia produced cannabis accounted for 18.3% of cannabis sales this year at $13 million.

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

  • Net income (earnings) totaled $247.3 million; up $9.9M million or 4.2%.
  • Total sales were $726 million; an increase of $64.1 million or 9.7%, due to increased beverage alcohol and cannabis sales.
  • Cannabis sales were $71 million, an increase of 113.9%.
  • Retail customer transactions (purchases) for beverage alcohol were up 0.4%, and the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 4.6% to $32.08.
  • The total volume of beverage alcohol sold was up 1.7%.
  • Retail customer transactions for cannabis were over 2 million; with an average dollar value of $34.74 down from $38.29 the previous year.

Overall sales increased 9.7% over the previous fiscal year to $726 million with a 4.2% increase in beverage alcohol sales and a 113.9% increase in cannabis sales. The first full fiscal year of cannabis sales and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to this increase. From March 15, the day the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Nova Scotia, to March 31, the end of the fiscal year there was a 22% increase in sales when compared to the previous year.


YTD 2019/2020 2018/2019
Sales Volume (Hectolitres) 803,135 790,017
Spirits $173,818,296 $165,663,847
Wine 150,217,701 142,869,354
Beer  275,188,308 275,749,985
Ready-To-Drink 55,835,849 44,498,414
Cannabis 71,002,605 33,188,581
Non-Liquor 104,620 113,412
Total Sales by Category $726,167,379 $662,083,593
Gross Profit $373,311,011 $350,841,597
Store Operating Expenses (72,682,403) (69,867,242)
Gross Operating income $300,628,608 $280,974,355
Other Corporate Expenses & Other earnings (53,350,134) (43,601,670)
Income from Operations $247,278,474 $237,372,685


Sales by Channel Sales Change
NSLC Stores $610.7 M $63.7 M (11.6%)
Licensees (bars/restaurants/pubs) $49.6 M $2.9 M (-5.5%)
Agency Stores (independently owned) $50.0 M $2.0 M (4.1%)
Private Wine and Specialty Stores $13.6 M $1.2 M (9.3%)
Other Wholesale $0.7 M $0.2 M (-23.2%)
Online $1.4 M $0.4 M (35.2%)

Operating Expense Ratio

The NSLC’s operating expense ratio for the fiscal year, including amortization and depreciation, was 17.4 % compared to 17.1% reported the prior year.

Board Expenses

The NSLC released the Board of Directors’ expenses for the fiscal year. These expenses amounted to $1.72 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. As a true partner in our communities, the NSLC conducts its business with integrity and respect for the environment, while supporting the growth of local industry. 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