Yooma Wellness, a Canadian multi-brand CBD and wellness company, has officially filed for bankruptcy.
The company, which boasted a portfolio of companies collectively worth US$60m just two years ago, has become the latest cannabis casualty of 2023 following an extended period of ‘significant financial and operational challenges and liquidity constraints’.
Following the suspension of its shares on both the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Markets and Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in May this year, the company announced the sale of its last remaining revenue generating asset in October.
Its collapse marks the latest example of consolidation across the European cannabis industry, coming just weeks after UK medical cannabis operator Lyphe Group also fell into administration.
Following a dual listing on the Aquis and CSE exchanges in August 2021, which saw the company raise gross proceeds of US$10,260,385 (£7,456,675), the company rolled out its ‘buy-and-build’ strategy at pace, purchasing a string of CBD companies.
By the end of 2021, these included EMMAC Life Sciences’ (which would later become Curaleaf International) CBD and wellness subsidiaries Blossom, MYO, Hello Joya, and What the Hemp in a transaction valued at US$8.1 million, hemp extracts producer Socati Corp in a deal worth US$25m, UK CBD brand Vitality for US$10.2m, US drinks business Big Swig for US$1.175m, Japanese CBD brand Vertex in a deal worth US$12m and US manufacturer of CBD products N8 Essentials, LLC in another transaction valued at US$0.79m
However, by the end of the year, the cracks were beginning to show in its strategy. In its full year results for 2021, Yooma’s CEO Lorne Abony said that the ‘markets had been difficult’ and that the company’s share price was not a ‘fair reflection of its value’.
By the time the full year results were published in May 2022, Yooma’s share price had dropped by over 85% since launching on the Aquis exchange, though Yooma was far from the only listed CBD company to experience such a sharp drop in value.
This put the company in a difficult position. Despite its reported ‘aggregate value of $60m’ following the transactions, the depressed share prices made ‘additional capital raising and further acquisitions difficult in the short-term’, while also making it difficult to ‘move to other regulated stock exchanges and raise the much-needed growth capital to support our brands’.
Furthermore, for the full year the company reported revenues of around US$10m, but losses topping US$33m due to the rapid string of acquisitions.
With few avenues remaining to raise more cash, Yooma appointed Canaccord Genuity Corp to conduct a ‘strategic review of potential options for the company’.
This marked a significant turning point for the company, which continued to post net losses often into the millions throughout 2022, despite seeing revenues and gross profits increase thanks to a ‘streamlining and rationalisation exercise’ it undertook following the strategic review.
Following a year of steadily whittling down its expenses and improving its margins, including the sale of its ‘unprofitable’ US operations, Yooma published an ‘operational update’ in February 2023 announcing plans to sell its Japanese brand Vertex and withdraw from the market.
This announcement came soon after news that the company’s French business Greenleaf SAS was ‘not able to meet its current liabilities with available assets and is therefore in a state of suspension’.
It marked a shift in tone from Yooma’s directors, who stated that the sell-off was a move to address the ‘company’s increasing liquidity constraints and lack of working capital’, adding that it was ‘continuing to consider all the available options… which may include raising short-term debt… or a sale of company assets’.
In July, cannabis investment firm SEED Innovations, which once held a significant stake in Yooma Wellness, said: “Disappointingly, Yooma has continued to perform poorly and is now written down to zero, with little chance of a recovery in fortunes expected and the existing business being sold down to cover costs.”
Sure enough, in October, Yooma announced the sale of its last remaining revenue-generating asset Vitality CBD, as it warned that should it be unable to ‘secure additional sources of liquidity’, it could be forced into liquidation.
On December 15, 2023, following an initial announcement days earlier, Yooma informed investors that it has officially been put into voluntary liquidation.
Furthermore, ‘its common shares will be withdrawn’ from Aquis effective by the close of business. Its shares are also set to be delisted from the Canadian Securities Exchange soon.
“The Board of Directors of Yooma has decided to put the Company into voluntary liquidation. Accordingly, Richter Inc., was appointed as trustee (“Trustee”) of the Company’s bankrupt estate by the Canadian Official Receiver on 5 December 2023. The Trustee has assumed control of the Company and will work with the Board of Directors during the administration period to maximise the outcome for all stakeholders of the Company.
“In light of the above, Peterhouse Capital Limited has informed the Company of its intention to resign as Aquis Corporate Adviser to Yooma with immediate effect.”