Zoetic International plc (LON:ZOE) Co-Chief Executive Officer Trevor Taylor caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss his & Antonio Russo’s background, the current focus for the business and the impact of COVID-19.
Q1: You’ve recently been appointed as co-CEO of Zoetic International, can you let us know a little bit about your background and that of Antonio?
A1: We were just recently appointed Co-CEO’s, our background is quite heavily in the cannabis space.
My business partner, Antonio Russo, about 10 years ago was part of one of the first cannabis licenses in the world that was issued here in Colorado, some people don’t know this but Colorado is kind of like the ‘Silicon Valley’ if you will of cannabis. Most of the legalisation started here in both him and in Colorado and from Colorado started branching outwards and took off in other places.
So, we’re very fortunate that Antonio was involved in that early on, he was part of a group called MIG which was one of the first, and still the oldest, organisations in the cannabis space and they were very influential in getting that movement to take place here and when onto later legalise recreational use as well. His experience and having over a decade in the space has been instrumental, he was very instrumental in building some pretty significant brands through his time in the cannabis space here.
I came on a little bit later in the picture, I’ve only been doing this for the last 5 years in cannabis. Antonio and I were partnered on a business together where we built up, and later became, the number one selling organic pre-rolled brand here in in Colorado and then we took that expertise and all that we learned through those processes and are now applying it to Zoetic.
Q2: The trading update that you’ve issued points to positive progress being made despite the Covid-19 environment. Can you explain to us where the current focus is now and what you are looking to achieve both in short term and long term?
A2: Obviously, the COVID-19 thing is affecting everybody, it’s affecting traffic flow to stores and so, instead of stressing about that and worrying where that’s at, we’re just continuing forward in picking up more distribution contracts and in the process of negotiating through a couple of those, both here in the US and internationally.
So, our focus is to basically continue forward and have as much market penetration lined up as we can as we start coming out of this COVID-19 process. At the same time, in order to do that, we’ve got to be really mindful of cost and so we’re continuing to reduce any of our non-essential costs specifically in the oil and gas side, we’re reducing costs drastically there and just being very mindful.
Nobody really knows how long this is going to last and we’ve taken the approach that we’re going to be cautious, we going to curtail spending but simultaneously, we’re going to continue to move forward with lining up more distribution contracts.
Q3: Everyone’s focus is obviously on the impact of Covid-19 at the moment, can you provide some more detail on the specific impact it is having on Zoetic International and how you are dealing with this?
A3: The biggest impact it has is just slowing down foot traffic in convenience stores here in the US on our Chill brand so that’s obviously disappointing because if people aren’t out going to the convenience stores, they’re not going to be seeing our product, we’ve come to grips with that. The same effect is happening in the UK on our Zoetic brand, we’re seeing obviously lower sales numbers from that side as well.
All the indicators outside of that are very positive, we were just nominated to possible win an award with Top Santé Skincare and so, things like that continue to happen that give us great hope.
The products are really good, there’s a lot of demand for them, the retailers are very intrigued with what we’re doing, it’s just a matter of getting past the COVID-19. As that moves away, we should start to see our sales increase and we’ll be in a good place to take advantage of everything that moves forward.