Hexo Corp. appointed Scott Cooper, current head of its beverage joint venture, as its new chief executive officer, effective immediately.

Cooper takes over from founder Sébastien St. Louis, who was recently shown the door of the Quebec cannabis producer he helped create almost a decade ago.

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St. Louis departs Hexo after having built the business into one of the biggest licensed producers in Canada by sales.

Cooper helped Truss Beverage Co., a joint venture between Molson Coors Canada and Hexo, take a leading the share of Canada’s infused beverage category.

However, industrywide sales for beverages amounted to only 23.6 million Canadian dollars ($19.5 million), or just 1.3% of the CA$1.8 billion Canadian cannabis market in the first half of this year.

“Scott’s two decades of experience in consumer-packaged goods, his success in launching and growing Truss’ innovative portfolio to be the Canadian market leader in cannabis beverages, and experience working in the United States position him well to defend Hexo’s position as a market leader in Canada and secure our place as a top-three global cannabis products company,” board chair Michael Munzar said in a news release announcing Cooper’s appointment.

Before leading Truss, Cooper held senior roles at Molson Coors, including chief innovation officer, in addition to positions at food retailer Sobeys and British multinational consumer goods company Unilever.

In addition to his duties at Hexo, Cooper will continue in his role as Truss CEO for an interim period, the release noted.

In a note to investors, BMO Capital Markets analyst Tamy Chen said St. Louis’ departure “largely reflects the board seeking a different skill set than the entrepreneurial drive that enabled Mr. St-Louis to build Hexo to a leading LP by market share.”

“Investors will recall that many other LPs have undertaken similar executive changes.”

Hexo is also laying the groundwork to expand into the coveted U.S. market via Truss CBD USA, another joint venture with Molson Coors.

Hexo lost CA$546 million in its previous fiscal year.

Shares of Hexo trade on the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange.

– Matt Lamers