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06/03/2022

Stephane Trudel takes over as CEO of Fire & Flower

Former Alimentation Couche-Tard executive to lead the cannabis consumer technology and retail platform.
Michelle Warren
Editor & Associate Publisher, Convenience Store News Canada
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Stephane Trudel
Stéphane Trudel is now CEO at Fire & Flower

Stéphane Trudel is the new chief executive officer of cannabis consumer technology and retail platform Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.

Trudel, currently SVP of operations for Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., stepped into the new role June 1, after being appointed as a director of the company in June 2020. He also served as a member of the audit committee and corporate governance and compensation committee of the company's board of directors.

In turn, Trevor Fencott stepped down as CEO of Fire & Flower June 1 and resigned from the company's board of directors.

"Over the past four years we built Fire & Flower from the ground-up into one of the world's largest licensed cannabis retailers, powered by our unique Hifyre retail and consumer technology platform. We also secured and deepened our strategic partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard, one of the world's largest retailers, to provide us with capabilities to expand globally," Fencott said in a release. "Now that the foundations have been built and tested, it is time for the company to really scale its model and operations. Having worked closely with Stéphane over the past three years, I believe he is absolutely the right person to lead the company into this next exciting phase of its growth."

It's a new start for Trudel, who has built a long career in the convenience sector. Trudel served as SVP of Operations for ACT since January 2018, leading ACT's operations in Canada as well as its investment in the cannabis industry. Before that he was SVP of growth and strategy at CST Brands, Inc., an international convenience retailer acquired by ACT in 2017. Prior to that, Trudel spent 16 years with Ultramar. 

Trudel has resigned from his roles as a member of the audit committee and corporate governance and compensation committee of the Fire & Flower's board of directors. In addition, he will resign from  ACT upon completion of his transitional duties.

"We are excited to welcome Stéphane as our new CEO," Donald Wright, chair of the board of directors, said in a statement.  "Stéphane is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in the retail sector that we believe will be invaluable to the Company as we embark on our next phase of growth as a leader in technology-driven cannabis retail."

The board thanked Fencott for his leadership and building the Fire & Flower brand. "Under his leadership, Trevor has positioned the Company to capitalize on growth opportunities to be a Canadian and global powerhouse in technology-driven cannabis retail," said Wright. 

"I am delighted to be assuming the role of chief executive officer of the company and to continue building the leading platform in the cannabis retail and technology sectors," said Trudel.  "This is an important time in the development of our company and I am looking forward to working with the rest of the management team and the board to drive the company's growth and shareholder value."

In April, ACT announced it was increasing its ownership of the Canadian cannabis retailer through the exercise of warrants.

In July 2019, Couche-Tard announced its strategic investment in Fire & Flower with a mandate to provide the Canadian cannabis retailer with additional capital to further accelerate its expansion strategy. Couche-Tard invested approximately $26 million in the form of unsecured convertible debentures to obtain a 9.9% ownership interest in Fire & Flower on a fully diluted basis.

Since then, Fire & Flower has opened more than 100 corporate stores in its network. The multi-banner cannabis retail operator owns and operates the Fire & Flower, Friendly Stranger, Happy Dayz and Hotbox brands. Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. owns all issued and outstanding shares in Fire & Flower Inc. and Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp., licensed cannabis retailers that own and operate cannabis retail stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the Yukon territory.

"In Canada, the company continues to innovate and build market share and we plan to increase our focus on international opportunities to further accelerate our growth, while further leveraging our strategic partnership with ACT," says Trudel, adding: "I would also like to thank Trevor whose dedication helped lead Fire & Flower to the forefront of our industry."

Through the strategic investment of ACT, Fire & Flower has set its sights on global expansion as new cannabis markets emerge and is poised to expand into the United States when permitted through its strategic licensing agreement with Fire & Flower U.S. Holdings upon the occurrence of certain changes to the cannabis regulatory regime.