Organigram CEO Engel exits struggling marijuana producer

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Greg Engel, longtime CEO of Moncton, New Brunswick-based marijuana producer Organigram Holdings, is stepping away from the struggling business, effective immediately, the company said early Monday.

No reason was given for Engel’s departure.

The current board chair, Peter Amirault, will oversee day-to-day management of the company until a permanent CEO is appointed.

Engel will stay on as a special adviser to the board, according to the company’s news release.

He was appointed chief executive in March 2017, making him one of the longest-serving CEOs in Canada’s expanding marijuana industry.

As CEO, Engel grew Organigram from a fledgling medical marijuana business to a meaningful player in Canada’s hypercompetitive cannabis industry.

Organigram came out of the gate strong after Canada launched its recreational cannabis market in late 2018.

But like many of its large competitors, the business ran into challenges.

The company reported net revenue of 26.9 Canadian dollars ($22 million) in February 2019, the first full quarter of recreational sales in Canada.

In the December 2020-February 2021 quarter, however, Organigram reported revenue of only CA$14.6 million.

The company cited “significantly lower” wholesale revenue and a lower average selling price, in addition to the temporary closure of its Moncton facility for “deep cleaning” after identifying positive COVID-19 cases.

Engel did have some success at the company, which largely avoided the costly mistakes made by some of its larger rivals, including massive losses stemming from overinvestments in cultivation facilities in Canada and overseas.

He also locked down a strategic collaboration with British American Tobacco (BAT) in March, with the tobacco giant taking a nearly 20% stake in Organigram valued at CA$220 million.

Engel’s total compensation for fiscal 2020 was CA$628,342, according to the company’s proxy circular, about half of which was his salary.

The proxy circular notes Engel is entitled to receive one year of salary if his employment is terminated by the company at any time without cause, in addition to “payments equal to a pro rata share of the bonus owed under the agreement.”

Shares of Organigram trade as OGI on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.