Aurora lays off 200, idles most of flagship Sky marijuana facility

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Aurora Cannabis has cut over 200 positions as it reduces production at its flagship marijuana greenhouse in Edmonton, Alberta, to just a quarter of its capacity, Marijuana Business Daily has learned.

Separately, the company’s chief science officer, Jonathan Page, is also leaving.

The fresh round of layoffs comes weeks after the company paused operations “indefinitely” at its huge greenhouse in Medicine Hat, Alberta to save money and cope with an industrywide supply glut.

The supply-demand imbalance is a result of a yearslong building spree by Canadian producers ahead of legalization in late 2018 that produced millions of square feet of unnecessary greenhouse capacity.

That ultimately turned into direct real estate losses worth millions of dollars and write-downs that cost billions.

In a statement to MJBizDaily, Aurora CEO Miguel Martin said the company’s recent moves are part of management’s plan “to evolve our operations network to be more aligned to sales trends and more dynamic in its ability to meet the evolving needs of the consumer.”

The Aurora Sky facility will now operate at only 25% of its potential capacity, the company confirmed.

The move is a major pivot for Aurora, which spent years and at least 150 million Canadian dollars ($120 million) building the structure, long touted by the company as its flagship greenhouse.

The facility originally was estimated to cost CA$110 million and produce some 100,000 kilograms of cannabis annually.

Aurora’s management at the time expressed confidence in the massive project, saying in a regulatory filing that they expect “a full payback on this project in a very short number of months” after reaching full production.

Aurora, however, has lost billions of dollars since then.

Martin, who took over as CEO only three months ago, said it is “critical” for Aurora to “realign our operations at our sky-class facility, Aurora Sky.”

“Aurora Sky will undergo a series of changes to advance its production success,” he said in the statement.

“The operational excellence of Aurora Sky is core to our strategy and growth ambition, which includes a greater focus on delivering high quality, premium products and innovation led by deeper plant science and genetics expertise.

“The required changes are expected to deliver measurable results in early 2021.

“Regretfully the changes at Aurora Sky will result in a reduction of our workforce. This is a difficult decision but one we must make for the health of our entire business.”

An Aurora spokesperson also confirmed Page’s departure to MJBizDaily.

Reached by MJBizDaily, Page said it was his decision to leave the company, which he joined in 2018.

Aurora acquired Anandia Labs, which Page co-founded, in 2018, and former CEO Terry Booth appointed Page as chief science officer later that year.

Page said he is leaving as CSO on Dec. 18 but will continue serving a consulting role.

“Within the industry, we’ve struggled with some of the stuff that’s gone on, but I do think we are heading in the right direction,” he said.

Aurora’s “science focus is accelerating in a good way,” he added.

Aurora trades as ACB on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at