Jamieson Wellness Inc.

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk04: in the quarter. Utheory and Strategic Partners both have inherently lower profit margins, and given our over-delivery in both businesses, this is to be expected on a weighted average. As anticipated, revenue in the quarter grew at a faster rate than adjusted EBITDA, which at $24.5 million was up 17% versus a year ago. This reflects our ongoing efforts to expand our infrastructure and resources and invest in brand-building activities in the US and China, while ensuring our Canadian business remains healthy and grows its leadership position. We entered 2023 in a position of strength and our latest results continue to illustrate the power of our platform and the efficacy of our strategy for driving profitable, sustainable growth. The strategic actions that transformed our business and significantly elevated our global presence in the back half of 2022 continued to show material progress during the first quarter. At Utheory, our expansion and integration efforts are advancing swiftly across key functional areas. This is helping to drive synergies, commercial activity and revenue, and our significant performance in Q1 provides a strong indicator of our progress. We also began production of a new and improved Hero SKU and the new line of gummies we discussed last quarter, both being introduced to the market starting in Q2. Over the next several quarters, we will be focused on further leveraging core capabilities and strengths to drive revenue and profitability. Over the long term, we continue to expect our U.S. business to deliver consistent double-digit growth along with an improving margin profile. In China, we just completed the previously announced purchase of our distributor assets for approximately $26 million, meaning that as of May 1st, we are directly operating all of our sales, marketing, and distribution activities in the country. Given the strong momentum we are seeing in this massive $30-plus billion market, the timing could not be better from my perspective. We now fully control our brand and entire value chain in China, enabling us to create deeper connections with Chinese consumers, broaden the scope of our offering, and expedite our rate of growth. Our partnership with DCP Capital is on track to close in the second quarter, further supporting this transition. DCP's deep experience in China perfectly complements our capabilities and will help pave the way to strengthen and accelerate our market opportunities under our new operating model. Over the past several months, we've been focused on building a strong team in China. And in mid-April, we celebrated the official grand opening of our new larger Shanghai office with leaders from the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai, government officials from the Putua District of Shanghai, leaders from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, our future partners from DCP Capital, Mei Yi from our board of directors, and a few members of our corporate executive team all in attendance. It was an exciting day for us all at Jameson Wellness as we marked another milestone in the company's growing global presence. Given the size of the Chinese market, we continue to expect it will likely produce the highest average growth rates for Jameson for the foreseeable future. In summary, we had a solid first quarter that we are very proud of. Our strategic growth initiatives are continuing to gain traction, and we remain comfortable with our outlook for the balance of 2023. I want to take a brief moment to thank the entire Jamison team for their hard work, dedication, and passion for helping advance our mission of becoming the world's most successful and trusted health and wellness company and delivering another solid quarter. With that, I'm going to turn the call over to our CFO, Chris, to discuss the first quarter results in more detail.
spk12: Chris, over to you. Thank you, Mike, and good afternoon. In the first quarter, revenue increased by 31.9% to $136.7 million, driven by growth in both Jameson Brands and Strategic Partner revenues. Jameson Brands revenue increased by 30% to $108.1 million in the first quarter. Domestic Canadian revenue grew by almost 2.5% as consumer consumption outpaced shipments in the quarter. This is typical due to the seasonal influx of shipments in the fourth quarter to support promotions and cold and flu season. The increase includes the impact of our prior year second half price increase as well. Our U-theory acquisition contributed $22.2 million of branded revenue driven by strong consumption, promotional timing, and growth in our e-commerce business. This increase was offset by a continued drawdown of customer inventory ahead of our HeroSKU innovation launching in the second quarter. In China, we saw continued momentum with 36.6% growth in the quarter, reflecting strong consumer demand in cross-border e-commerce, our continued expansion in domestic retail channels, and the removal of COVID-19 restrictions. Revenue in China this quarter represents the final period of sales through our third-party distribution model as we transition to direct sales to consumers and retailers. in the second quarter. In our international markets, revenue declined by 15.5% as expected, reflecting slower declines in Eastern Europe as consumption patterns in that region have begun to stabilize, and the impact of timing of promotional replenishments in the Caribbean and in Southeast Asia regions offset by strength in the Middle East. Our strategic partner revenues increased by 37.9%. 39.7%, or $8.1 million, reflecting pricing and the timing of customer orders while overlapping a softer Q1 2022. Gross profit margins decreased by 110 basis points, driven by mixed factors, including the over-delivery of expectations in you theory and strategic partners, both of which have inherently lower margin profiles. Within Jameson Brands, gross margin profile, sorry, gross profit margins declined by 230 basis points to 40.5%, reflecting the lower gross profit margin profile of the U Theory brand and seasonally low volumes recognized in the acquired business, as well as lower planned Q1 production and product mix within the base business. Gross profit margin in the strategic partner segment increased by 510 basis points to 16.5%, reflecting favorable customer mix and volume driven by operating efficiencies while pricing offset higher supply chain and input costs. Selling, general, and administrative expenses increased by $10.8 million versus last year, excluding the impact of specified costs and the addition of U-theory SG&A increased by $1.5 million, or 7.3%, largely reflected global expansion initiatives, marketing, and infrastructure to support our growth in China and in the U.S. Specified costs of $3.5 million included acquisition-related costs and our IT system development and implementation costs. First quarter operating income decreased by 3.7%. or $0.6 million due to the specified costs for our acquisition and ERP improvements and investments in SG&A offsetting the impact of higher revenues and gross profits. On a normalized basis, first quarter operating income increased by 13%. Reported EBITDA increased by 4.7%, while adjusted EBITDA increased by 17% to $24.5 million, reflecting higher volumes in gross profit offset by specified costs and investments in SG&A. Adjusted EBITDA margin decreased by 230 basis points to 17.9%, mainly due to the inclusion of the U3 margin profile and mix of strategic partner volumes in the quarter. As expected, net earnings decreased by 27.5% to $7.1 million, and adjusted net earnings which excludes specified costs in foreign exchange, decreased by 18% to $8.8 million, both from higher borings to support our acquisition and higher prevailing interest rates impacted by our seasonally low volume quarter. Our earnings per diluted common share were 17 cents and adjusted earnings per diluted common share were 21 cents, a 19.2% decrease compared to the prior year, due to the reasons I just noted and the impact of shares issued within our U3 transaction. A reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net earnings is provided in today's press release announcing the company's first quarter results. Turning to the balance sheet and cash flow, we generated $7.9 million of cash from operations in the quarter compared to $17.1 million in the year earlier. Cash from operations before working capital considerations was $2.2 million lower due to specified acquisition and ERP-related costs impacting statutory earnings in the quarter. Cash generated from working capital decreased by $6.9 million in the quarter, driven by the timing of collections and temporarily higher inventory within our youth theory and strategic partner businesses. In the quarter, we had capital expenditures of $2.3 million, and we distributed approximately $7.1 million in dividends. We ended the first quarter with approximately $124.8 million in cash and available operating lines. Based on our strong cash flow position and earnings today, we have announced a dividend of 17 cents per common share. The dividend will be paid on June 15th, 2023, to common shareholders of record at the close of business on June 1st, 2023. Now turning to guidance. We maintain our outlook for fiscal 2023 and the underlying assumptions for revenues and margins across all of our segments are unchanged from what we shared with you at the start of the year. Our guidance includes the following. Net revenue in the range of $670 to $700 million, reflecting annual revenue growth of 22%, to 28 percent, adjusted EBITDA in the range of $140 to $146 million, an increase of 13 to 18 percent compared to the prior year, and adjusted earnings per fully diluted common share of between $1.62 and $1.72, an increase of between 5 and 11 percent compared to the prior year. Now with that, let me share some additional perspectives on the second quarter specifically. We anticipate Jameson brand revenues to increase by almost 50 to 60% as follows. The domestic business up to 3% growth as consumer demand continues to outpace shipments in the quarter impacted by the timing of cold and flu shipments. Acquired revenues of 40 to $44 million in our youth theory business based on shipments to support. seasonal promotional campaigns, and initial shipments of our new innovations launching in the quarter. 50% to 70% growth in our China business, reflecting the step-up to distributor-level pricing, as well as continued stronger demand in cross-border e-commerce and our new domestic Chinese club distribution. $9.2 to $10.2 million in our international business, based on stabilized consumption in Eastern Europe and the timing of customer inventory replenishments in the prior year. Strategic partner revenues are expected to increase between 35% and 45%, reflecting the timing of available production and pricing. We anticipate normalized SG&A to increase approximately 55% to 65% in the quarter, reflecting the acquisition of U Theory, added resources, accelerated marketing investment, and a transition to our own business distribution model in China. A complete discussion of our outlook for the full year fiscal 2023, as well as factors impacting our expected performances included in the outlook section of our MD&A. Our MD&A was filed this evening. In closing, I would like to thank the entire Jameson Wellness team for their continued commitment and hard work as we execute against our strategic plan and deliver value for our stakeholders. With that, let me turn the call back to our operator, Aisha, for Q&A.
spk05: Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. To join the question queue, you may press star, then 1 on your telephone keypad. You will hear a tone acknowledging your request. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing any keys. To withdraw your question, please press star, then 2. The first question comes from Derek Lessard from TD Cohen. Please go ahead.
spk10: Everybody and congrats on a really nice quarter. Just wanted to touch on your 2023 guidance. A lot of consumer companies or those that have exceeded their Q1 guide have decided to maintain their longer term 2023 guide. Just wondering if you can maybe help us understand how you're thinking about the 2023 guide given the beat.
spk04: Yeah, thanks, Derek. Thanks for joining today. I'll take it. You know, we feel really proud of what we delivered in Q1, and thank you for the compliment. It was a strong quarter by the team for sure. We have a lot of confidence in the guidance that we put into the market for 2023, and we're going to hold that guidance today. Really, there's just a lot of moving pieces right now going on both internally and externally in terms of our business and kind of the macroeconomics going on out in the world, and we're just not prepared at this point to change our guidance. We have a lot of moving pieces as we invest in these new platforms that we acquired in the U.S. and in China, and we feel great about the plan. So there's a lot of moving pieces there, though, and we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. And also, there's still a lot of macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds out there. Still the war going on in Ukraine. You've got macro environmental headwinds that are just uncertain at this time, and every day the news is different, and every day the prognostication on that is different. So we're going to hold to our guidance today. We're pleased with the quarter we just delivered, and this team is fully focused on continuing to deliver quarter after quarter, year after year.
spk10: Yeah, Mike, that's fair. And maybe touching on youth theory for a second, and more specifically the Heroes Q and the new – I guess it was the pulled innovation and the gummies. Could you just maybe talk about how the relaunches are progressing and where you are? I know you're supposed to launch in Q2, but has that started to go into the pipeline as we speak?
spk04: Yeah, so from an innovation perspective in Utheory, we are launching five gummy SKUs. All five are planned to start shipping in Q2. Three of the five have already begun shipping. I would say, though, that as planned and as guided, those will build over time. We're going to start with e-commerce and a couple of our key health food retailers and some online retailers. So those have begun shipping in the last couple of weeks and they'll continue to ship through Q2. When it comes to the Hero SKU that we talked about last quarter where we decided to do new improved product and we've seen some de-inventorying leading up to that launch, that product also has been produced. It's in full production. It has started its early days of shipping as well, and it's starting to get to market. It will be in shelves sometime over the next few weeks and really start to see a surge into one of our big key customers later in the quarter. So shipping has begun on both of those.
spk10: Okay, so I guess the bigger impact will be felt in Q3.
spk04: No, you'll see some, you know, within our guidance for Q2, you'll see some big shipments. In Q2, it's just it's building up over the quarter on that hero skew, which would be the bigger innovation of all of the ones that we just talked about. So, yeah, you'll feel it in Q2. It's in our guidance, and we're quite happy with it. And it is, the skew is in our joint care turmeric lineup, where we did put a new and improved formula under that key segment.
spk10: Okay, that's helpful. And maybe one last one for me to follow up before I leave the queue. The $22.2 million that you reported in the quarter, how does that compare to last year?
spk12: It's slightly – just a second here. So versus prior year, it's just very slightly down as that one customer de-inventory, and that negative was offset by really strong sell-through on our other two hero segments. as well as strong growth in our e-commerce segment.
spk10: Okay, thanks. That's very helpful, Chris. Thanks, guys.
spk04: Just a little color on e-commerce. I think it's important because I'm sure the question will come up. We talk a lot about that being a growth pillar for us in the U.S. We saw strong double-digit growth on e-commerce in the U.S. as we deployed some new capabilities and a new strategy into the business there in the U.S. We're quite proud of that.
spk10: Mike, is that – maybe could you talk about over what base that would be?
spk04: Yeah, it's not over the biggest base, Eric. We're not going to break out the revenue, but it did outpace our expectations on the quarter, and the growth rate was higher than we had planned. We're quite pleased with what we're seeing in terms of conversion, both through e-commerce partners and our DTC site that we kicked off in late Q4.
spk02: Okay. Thanks, Mike.
spk01: The next question comes from Ty Cullen from Aid Capital. Please go ahead. Please go ahead.
spk05: The next question comes from Henry Leno from National Bank. Please go ahead.
spk08: Hi, Alex. Good evening. Thanks for taking my questions and congrats on the good quarter. Just a couple of questions for me. The first one I wanted to ask is that if you can talk a little bit about the cost that you had in Q1. How did they track against your expectations? Did you have some of them shift to Q2 or are you keeping to schedule on those?
spk12: Yeah, with our inventory levels at the end of the year, we did not see a significant change in cost levels. We feel we're very well prepared or very well suited and guided for expected margins throughout the year. There are some categories that are up, some categories that are down, but nothing that's going to change our guidance at this point in time.
spk08: Okay. No, that's great. Thanks, Chris. And does that kind of be in line? Is that also for the additional costs that you are planning to expand or to grow the brand of UCRE and in China as well? Or are those different?
spk12: All of those input costs are, that's what I'm talking primarily about. When we talk about the incremental costs in youth theory as well as in China, those are a lot of SG&A and fixed orientated costs where we're investing in marketing infrastructure and resources. So we continue to be very confident about our guidance and just feel very strongly.
spk08: Great, thank you. The other question I had on China, you also mentioned there was new club distribution on your retail partnerships and efforts. I mean, can you talk a little bit about that partnership to the extent that you can share in terms of, I don't know if you can size it, is it an existing part of the new store, is it a new part or like any color that would appreciate it?
spk04: Yeah, what I would say, Indri, is it is, as in any country, there's multiple retailers in different channels in the club channel in China. there are multiple partners. So this would be one of the larger club channels in the country. They do have established stores. We have established a partnership and started shipping to them and are building a business in that channel as we've planned. So quite pleased with that in Q1. And as we continue to build the business in China and that retail distribution, we'll be happy to talk about it more and more.
spk08: That's great. Thanks, Mike. And the last one for me, how do you expect CapEx in 2023?
spk12: I think we had talked about between $15 and $20 million in total capital, and that would include investments in our ERP system that would be recognized in the P&L and added back.
spk08: Okay. That's it for me. Thank you. All right. Good call.
spk02: Thanks, Andrew. Thanks, Andrew.
spk05: The next question comes from Sabab Khan from RBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead.
spk11: Great. Thanks, and good afternoon. And maybe just following up on the kind of the China discussion, could you maybe share a little bit about, you know, as we look forward to, you know, once that deal with the new partner closes, you know, what specific kind of channels or the specific things that that partner is going to be able to maybe help accelerate into relative to what maybe the distributor was doing on their own? So maybe just a little bit clearer, whether it's channels, you know, type of customers, whether it's more in-market, you know, customer knowledge, but just a bit more color there, please.
spk04: Yeah, I think first off what I'd say, Sabin, thanks for joining today, is they've already started helping us in the background on a few carriers, and it will accelerate it as we close that deal. First and foremost, I mean, we've built a team now of about 30 people in China, some amazing talent, some very talented people that have very, very nice backgrounds in CPG and in VMS in the country, and they've helped us find some of that key talent that is going to drive some of the growth that we're talking about. Secondly, these guys have built some businesses in China over years and really understand where all the different, China's very complex, right? It's a very complex market with a lot of regions, provinces, cities, a lot of channels. They understand how to get to those through various distributors, various broker partners, various avenues that you need to grow the business and scale the business. And they're going to give us access and have started to give us access to all of those connections. as well as just commercial and operational savviness on the ground, understanding how to speak to consumers, what drives the consumer in China and how to continue to build out our business there based on their history of growing businesses in the nutrition space and in the protein space.
spk11: Just when we think about markets, you know, I think when you guys were more focused on the cross-border e-commerce channel, and it was certain cities or the type of cities that you were targeting, I guess, is the idea now to go broad, or are you still looking at, you know, tier A and tier two cities only?
spk04: Yeah, our focus, so we're still focused on cross-border e-commerce. It's a very big and growing channel. We continue to see strong growth in cross-border e-commerce in the first quarter, and we'll continue to push that business forward. We also are focused on domestic e-commerce as we move into taking control here. In China, there's two different kind of e-commerce platforms. You have the cross-border e-commerce platform, which can sell foreign brands through it. And then you have the domestic e-commerce of which our registrations come into play and we can sell our registered products. We're also looking to expand into retail distribution as we just talked about. With that, though, the focus remains today on Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. I mean, the opportunities in those cities are just so big. We have a core consumer that values premium, high-quality products. And those consumers will be focused on have the money to buy the products that we sell in those tier one and tier two cities for now. As we scale, we might continue to expand beyond those, but that's our focus today.
spk11: Okay. And then maybe just looking at the domestic market here in Canada, maybe just two-part question. One, can you comment on just the general inventory position of the retailers as it relates to just Jameson as well as just the vitamin category? And second, As they think about this category, obviously these are all staples retailers, but how are they, what kind of environment are they preparing for as they think about the rest of 23? Is it sort of, you know, same as what we've seen recently, steady as she goes, or are you noticing some level of caution as they build their inventory or manage their inventory?
spk04: I would say a couple things. I'd say, you know, as one thing about inventory right now you saw in Q1, our consumption is significantly outpaced our shipments. And what that shows is we're getting back to kind of this pre-COVID build burn through cold and flu season, where we build up inventory through Q3 and Q4 for cold and flu season, and then it burns through Q1 and Q2. So it's getting back to kind of those pre-COVID inventory build burn cycles that we didn't see through COVID because of all the different waves and everything going on. It just threw all the historical build burns into a different spin. So we're back to that. As we look customer by customer, it's kind of no different than any year at this point. We see some customers that could use a few more weeks of inventory. We have a few customers that are probably sitting a couple weeks high in inventory. And as we do every year, we just work to balance that out through the year and make sure all of our customers have the right inventory levels. We're not getting any strong indications of any change in that strategy, but what I would say is I wouldn't expect customers to be looking to, on a material way, increasing inventories based on the macro environmental headwinds that we all could be facing. I think everyone right now is managing balance sheet. Everyone is watching those metrics closely, as they should be doing. And I don't see the opportunity to increase the numbers that we see today. And we'll continue to work with every one of our retailers on a case-by-case basis in terms of meeting their needs.
spk11: Can I just one last quick one from you, and I'll pass the line. As you look at, you know, there's some discussion earlier about the progress on the U.S. side with Utheory. I guess we'll kind of call it four months done into the year. Has the uptake of the new product and the way Q1 trended, has that largely been in line with expectations, or are there any variations on the U.S. side, whether to the good or to the bad, that you've noticed here today in that brand?
spk04: Well, Q1, we over-exceeded the high end of our expectations, and really it came down to the main factor being consumption just came in stronger than we anticipated, and we did see that consumer continue to be engaged in the subcategories that we play in. That was really nice to see. When it comes to the new products that we ship, there's really nothing to report at this point. We just started shipping them. They're still in the pipeline making their way to stores and really nothing to talk about there. You see our guidance on the corridor. We feel pretty confident in our guidance there. Those innovations we talked about were the ones we talked about last year in terms of some of the slowdown that we managed through. But we also want some more innovations into market as well, just regular cadence innovation that has started shipping, and we'll let it get to stores, and we believe we have some good business there to be had.
spk02: Thanks very much. Thank you.
spk05: The next question comes from Ty Collin from Aid Capital. Please go ahead.
spk00: Hey, good evening, guys. Sorry for the technical difficulties earlier there. Can you hear me all right now? Yeah, no problem. Thanks for joining. Okay, perfect. Great. So, yeah, look, congrats on closing the acquisition of the China distributor today. Just, you know, my first questions on that. Will that have any impact on margins at all in Q2 and going forward, or is it kind of too small to matter from a marketing standpoint?
spk12: Well, on a standalone business, margins in China will be consistent with the rest of our branded business and are included from a mixed perspective in our guidance. So, No further impact to what has already been disclosed.
spk00: Okay, got it. And then just another one on the Q2 guide here. So it looks like you're expecting gross margins down about 200 basis points, whereas they were down about closer to 100 bps this quarter. Is that just mix-driven, or are there any other factors in there to take note of?
spk12: Yeah, it's the seasonal volume, higher volume quarter related to the U-theory acquisition. and just how that plays with the volume recognized in the rest of the business.
spk00: Okay, great. That's it for me.
spk02: Thanks, guys. Thanks, Zach.
spk05: Once again, if you have a question, please press star, then 1. The next question comes from Justin Keywood with Stifel. Please go ahead.
spk07: Hi, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my call. This had a question on the broader competitive landscape. We saw a pretty significant transaction announced this week. Blackmore is being acquired by Corrine for $1.2 billion. It looks like a pretty favorable multiple. I'm wondering if that consolidation trend is showing up in any areas that you're seeing, and perhaps there could be some more competition on M&A going forward impacting multiples.
spk04: Yeah, I start by just addressing the acquisition just in general. If you don't mind, Justin, I'll answer your question. I think, you know, we sat back and saw that we think the valuation paid for Blackmore is really more fairly represents the industry we play in. We've had long-term consumer tailwinds behind health and wellness and vitamins, minerals, and supplements. The future growth prospects and the profitability of the category continue to show nothing but upside into the future. And we're quite pleased to see that the valuation they got more fairly represents what we think the industry should get. We also think it helps validate our strategic choices in terms of growing in Asia and in China and really seeing companies focus there. So we are quite pleased with that. When it comes to consolidation, I mean, I don't really think it changes anything. This has been a market that has been seeing consolidation for some time. We could go back 15, 20 years and look at a list of different brands that have been purchased over the years. either by big strategic players or some of the few of the brands that we bought, for example. So I think it was interesting to see that. I think if one thing it should bring to light to the North American community is there's a whole lot of strategic buyers out there that are large that we don't even deal with every day here or know every day, like some of the mainstream CPG or pharma companies we've heard of the past 15 years. I mean, this was a large beer company out of Asia looking to get into VMS. So it was an interesting spin and brings a whole different world of strategics and opportunities into the marketplace.
spk07: Thank you. Appreciate that. And then just one other question on the DCP transaction closing in Q2. Any reason why that wasn't closed in conjunction with the China distributor?
spk12: Yeah, so it's about the transfer of assets and the transition of our cross-border e-commerce storefronts. that transaction or those transitions, there's probably close to 30 of those storefronts that transitioned throughout the month of April. So now that that transition has been completed, they have a statutory period of time with which they can close their transaction, and we expect to announce that in the next few weeks here.
spk07: Understood.
spk04: Just one thing on that DCP thing is Chris is talking that hit me, Justin. It goes back to Saba's question. I shouldn't let it go unaddressed. We asked what some of the capabilities are that DCP brings. Because of DCP's experience, they've done this before. They've done some transitions on an e-commerce basis. We were able to transition our e-com platforms very quickly and really take a lot of the learnings that they had been through in their history and leverage them in our transition. And it happened at a really nice pace that we're really proud of and really proud of the team there that was able to pull off some of these transitions by May 1st, which was fantastic. So some more benefit that DCP brought for sure.
spk07: Absolutely.
spk02: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks, Justin.
spk05: The next question comes from George Dume from Scotiabank. Please go ahead.
spk06: Yeah, I'm Megan Griss, so congrats on a good quarter. I just wanted to get started on Jameson Canada. It looks like we're expecting to see negative volumes for the first half of the year. Can you maybe talk a little bit about POS, where it's trending? I'm trying to get a sense of that opportunity for volume recovery in the second half. Second part of that question is, I know it's probably too early to talk about next year, but historically, what do you usually see in sales a year after re-anniversary or really strong flu season?
spk04: Yeah, I'll take the first part there for sure. So We had a really good quarter in Canada in terms of consumption, and consumption in terms of dollars outpaced our revenue number by about three times, almost three times, as we saw the consumer continue to buy products and really some of the pricing that we put in in the back half of the year. When it comes to units, we actually didn't see a decline in units, George. We saw a very slight increase in units, which was really nice to see in the quarter. And underlining that number is really some interesting data points that I think are important. We did see some unit declines in the immunity side of the business. Not anything material, but some unit declines in the immunity side of the business. But we have to remember the immunity was comping the Omicron surge of a year ago. So it was up against a really tough comp. You would think that, or there could be a hypothesis out there that that would drive units down. But what happened is all the other categories of strength that have been growing, the unit sales in those subcategories grew. and just outpaced any declines we saw in immunity. And what that tells us is it really validates this notion that we've been talking about, that the consumer entered the category through COVID, through immunity, but they spread their usage and their engagement in the category out across multiple categories, and they continue to grow those categories outside of immunity. We saw strong unit growth in energy, in sleep stress, digestive, joint, and multivitamins. We saw it in a lot of subsegments outside of immunity. So underneath those trends, we're seeing some really nice data points.
spk06: Okay, I'm sorry, on the hangover effect the following year?
spk04: Yeah, the second part of the question, you know, it's hard to tell because it depends on how strong the flu season is. And flu season is not projected to be light again this year coming up. So You know, year over year, we tend to see flu season pop our business in terms of Q3 and Q4 sales. We see ourselves burn through it in Q1 and early Q2, and we don't see any change in that expectation moving forward. We're still, you know, this quarter, we're still comping against some tough comps in terms of COVID and Omicron, but we're going to start to see those disappear as well, and we should get back to a more normalized cadence that we're used to seeing.
spk06: Okay. Thanks for that. And maybe shifting yours to China, Mike, I'd be curious to hear about the investments you're making in brand building and maybe what KPIs you use to measure the success there.
spk04: Yeah. So we're investing in marketing and brand building marketing and some broad-based marketing. And we'll be looking to measure that in a couple of fronts. First off, it's going to be impressions and really maximizing the impressions that our brand has with consumers and with our core consumer that we're targeting there and ensuring that we're talking directly to that consumer. Over time, then we start measuring that through awareness and equity scores and our insights team is all over making sure that we have the baseline set coming into this transaction. We know where our equity and awareness scores are and now looking to build that up over time as the business grows and really closing closing that gap between awareness and equity that we know outpaces our business today, getting our business and our sales to catch up with that, and then continuing to drive equity and awareness forward. So it's a really traditional type of look at how you do brand building, but what I would say is most of it done in China would be done through digital channels and digital marketing, which that consumer is just so engaged digitally compared to any other country in the world.
spk06: Great. That's really helpful. Just one last one, if I may. I noticed that you guys kept your international guide still pretty wide, 5% to 20% for the year. You noted that things look to have stabilized in Eastern Europe. Just kind of wondering why it's so wide or maybe what factors need to happen for us to land either at the bottom or the top end. You need some color there. Thanks.
spk12: Yeah, in spite of the percentages being wide, it doesn't really provide for a significant dollar gap. I think it's only about a couple million dollars. And it's really about the new countries that we're looking at getting into and the timing of the registrations that come with entering those countries, that's the big driver between landing somewhere in the middle versus the top end of that cut.
spk02: Great. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thanks, George.
spk05: The next question comes from John Zapparo from CIBC. Please go ahead.
spk09: Thanks. Good afternoon. I wanted to get back to youth theory and specifically the seasonality of that business. Can you just remind us historically, I know Q2 and Q4 are the most important, but can you remind us historically what the seasonality of that business is? Is it right to say that or is it fair to say that Q4 is maybe around 40% of expected sales for the year?
spk12: I think that's a little high based on my view of the overall business. certainly you probably have about a 45% waiting on the front half versus the back half and then it you know last year obviously in q3 we only had I think it was two and a half of three months in the quarter so you'll see that seasonality normalized this year obviously with q1 being lower just based on the the inventory cycle as well as q4 2022 being low based on the drawdown in inventorying customers at that time as well. So both of those factors impact your comparatives going forward. Otherwise, we think that shipments will be very close to consumption as we move forward from a quarter-to-quarter perspective.
spk09: Okay, understood. Can you share anything on consumption for ETH? I don't know if it's point-of-sale data or I can just use your e-com as a read-through there, but can you give us a sense of point-of-sale data for the brand?
spk04: Yeah, so we had some very, as we talked about, we over-delivered the high-end expectation on the business, and a lot of that was driven by the fact that consumption came in higher than expected. We don't have broad-based, like a Nielsen data point or something like that, but we do have a few data points by some of our key retailers. And while we don't break it out, what I can tell you is, we did see some good high single-digit consumption across the business that we were quite happy with in the quarter.
spk09: Okay, that's helpful. Switching gears, I wonder if you've seen any change in private label penetration, either in Canada, U.S., or any of your key international markets over the past few months?
spk04: Yeah, we actually, John, saw private label actually – hold steady in Canada, actually lost a very little piece of share in Canada on a dollar basis. So we didn't really see them move the needle at all or any real shifting going on there, if that's what you're getting at across the board. What I would say, though, when it comes to shifting is we have continued, as we talked about before, to see shifts to some channels that are more like club e-commerce, Some of the grocers who talk about shifting to their discount channels, we continue to see that across all CPG, including our category. And the good thing is in a lot of those channels, we have very strong business and we're seeing the benefits of that. And again, as we talked about before, we're kind of margin agnostic across the board with a few puts and takes. So it has played out well for us to date. both in Canada and the U.S. I don't know control label numbers in the U.S., but from the channel shifting perspective, it has played out well for us.
spk09: All right, that's interesting. And then last one for me, have you seen any change in promotional behavior from competitors, in particular on the U.S. side?
spk04: We have seen no material changes that has appeared in any data that we have today.
spk02: Got it. Okay, that's all from me.
spk09: Thank you very much.
spk02: Thanks, John. Thanks, John.
spk05: This concludes the question and answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Mr. Pallaro for any closing remarks. Please go ahead.
spk04: Perfect. Thanks for joining us today for your continued support. It's nice to see everyone out asking great questions. We look forward to continuing to scale this business globally in 2023 and well beyond. We are focused really hard on solidifying our key platforms for growth in the U.S. and China. and really focus on continuing to strengthen our brand here in Canada and the leadership position we have. So this team is full force ahead to deliver the guidance we put out, and we're really looking forward to speaking to you again. Have a great night, and thanks for coming out.
spk05: This concludes today's conference call. You may disconnect your lines. Thank you for participating, and have a great evening.

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