Sativa Group (NEX:SATI) Chief Executive Officer Henry Lees-Buckley caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss his new role as CEO, how the UK market will develop, the Goodbody Wellness stores, George Botanicals and their new direct marketing channel Tessellate Collective.
Q1: You joined Sativa Group as CEO last month, you’ve obviously had quite a career already in North America and the UK with some heavyweight businesses including a Fortune 500 Company. So, what was it about the company that attracted you to take up the CEO role?
A1: I’ve been very fortunate to be able to be associated with some great businesses throughout North America, Canada, US and here in the UK.
Having a look at Sativa, the team here has built a fantastic foundation for growth so when I think about the opportunity ahead for us, it’s no more complicated than we’re in a very early stage business with a solid foundation with a long runway for growth and quite frankly, I wanted to be part of that.
Q2: What’s your view on how the UK market will develop?
A2: We’re in an interesting time at the present moment, if you look at the regulatory environment, in other countries, they’re more advanced than we are so I look at where we are today in the UK as more of an evolution versus a revolution. So, the regulatory environment is a change and got very progressive in other countries, it’s going to happen here but it’s going happen here over time.
I think what’s important for us is to make sure we as a company operate on what I call the ‘the highroad’ and that’s very important and part of our values as a company and what that means is we’re looking to make sure we work with all of the regulatory bodies, the Home Office and make sure we do it the right way.
There’s lots of different ways to do it and our view is no more complicated than we want to do it right and do it well and build this business for the long run.
Q3: Now, you recently opened a third Goodbody CBD wellness store in Bristol, what can you tell us about that?
A3: It’s an exciting time for us, that is our third Goodbody wellness location, our first was in Bath, second in Cirencester and now we’re in the Clifton area, in Bristol.
These three original sites for us were meant to really test out our model, ensure we have the right facilities in place, put in with the right products, the right locations, within each of these centres and really being a testing site for us.
We’re very very pleased with the results of all three, sales are building in each one of them and we’ve got a really nice clientele that are really learning from these stores. We make sure that we help educate the people that come in and help them understand what CBD wellness products are.
So, for us, it’s been a very good exercise, three stores but the runway for us is really looking ahead and our view is that we’re going to have up to say fifty stores or more over the next 2 or 3 years in a franchise model. So, we’re really building this out to grow from here so pretty excited about the opportunity.
Q4: Just looking at retail market, how has George Botanicals progressed? They were very early to the retail market.
A4: That is a core brand for us and we have got lots of great things coming up in this brand. Not a lot I can tell you about right now but we’ve got a business here, George Botanicals, that operates online and it operates through pharmacy chains and wellness stores throughout the UK today.
So, we’ve got a sales force out there that’s driving sales into the independent pharmacies, online business but the opportunity is greater than that for us. We’re working hard to get ourselves positioned well to be with the high street retailers so again, something that’s important to us.
The other thing that I’d like to mention is that when I say we take ‘the highroad’, that’s for all of our businesses whether it be Goodbody wellness, George Botanicals, Tessellate Collective.
We have a lab called PhytoVista Laboratories, the laboratory focusses on cannabis and it provides testing for not only our products but for other products in the marketplace.
So, as we position ourselves to go on the high street and make sure we service all of our customers, whether it be Goodbody, Tessellate or for our independent pharmacies, we have products that are completely tested, products that you can trust. There is a huge amount of focus for us as we think about ‘the highroad’, we make sure that our product quality is top all of the time.
So, that’s our ambition in George Botanicals, heading to ‘the highroad’ and looking forward to the opportunity.
Q5: You mentioned the Tessellate Collective, Sativa Group’s direct marketing channel, it’s an interesting move. What can you tell us about it?
A5: This is a very good channel for us, it’s something that we see as direct marketing, it’s bene going on for decades and decades. So, if you think about the success of brands like ‘Avon’ which is a household name globally today, that’s what we’re after here in this marketplace.
So, in each one of our groups, we have MD’s that have significant expertise in these segments and these channels and we’ll building out the Tessellate Collective today to be a direct selling marketplace and we have 490 advocates already in place.
So, this is a very very significant and growing channel for us and we see strong upside in it.