Peter Horvath talks transitioning from Victoria Secret to cannabis brands

Jul 25 2018, 5:30 pm

Peter Horvath knows retail, taken from a wealth of experience working with brands like Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, and DSW.

After 30 years in the industry, Horvath is ready to dominate a new market.

“I like to retire every few years, and then things pop out at me and I consider them. It’s taken me from lingerie to denim to defence intelligence and now to cannabis,” Horvath told Daily Hive over the phone.

His latest venture, CEO of Green Grown Brands (GGB), presents the retail vet with a new set of opportunities and challenges that are unique to the cannabis sector. GGB is a lifestyle-oriented, consumer products company operating in the cannabis domain.

When you look at the resumes of the folks that are running the more notable companies right now in the segment, they are people that know how to raise capital – and that’s about it,” said Horvath. 

“The expertise of building brands, delivering customer experiences that get you loyal customers, repeat purchases, knowing how to compete – those will be the differentiators.”

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Brand development

GGB started as a skeleton company of only nine people, which has expanded to 19 since March 2018.

“We’re bringing people in who run multi-million-dollar beauty and personal care businesses to this product,” said Horvath. “We developed a consumer products company that is focused on personal care and beauty products, as well as all the other products that can be delivered with CBD (a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis).” 

GGB is focusing on acquiring and developing brands that fit the current and projected marketplace. While they are mostly active in the US, GGB recently partnered with Toronto-based Xanthic Biopharma, a life sciences company that develops THC and CBD infused products.

“With this strategic business combination, GGB is positioned to launch our retail and branding expertise into this fast-growing marketplace,” Horvath said is a press release regarding the acquisition.

Peter Horvath

Peter Horvath, CEO of Green Growth Brands (photo courtesy of RNMKR Agency)

Customer service

“In business, when anybody says ‘we’re gonna be the next Starbucks, or Amazon, or Apple of a segment,’ you should run the other way. If it was that easy we wouldn’t be talking about those three businesses,” advised Horvath.

Horvath notes that the consumer experience is paramount to a success retail model, something GGB is hyperfocused on.

“It’s a lot of work,” said Horvath. “It’s not as simple as delegating. You need the creative and executive leadership that comes with dealing with customers.”

“Not only do you have to be relevant to new customers, you need to be relevant to existing customers or else you won’t have credibility.”

“We’ve actually run companies that have won the hearts of customers. I know the competition will ultimately start hiring people from these segments. We weren’t just in these segments, we created the strategies and executed them.”

“In a market that’s highly competitive and highly dynamic, most retailers are left with legacy stores, legacy customers, legacy products, legacy ways of doing business that are no longer relevant.”

Unique challenges

“It’s a very complex market to navigate,” said Horvath, referring to the cannabis industry.

He notes although most states have legalized cannabis in some form, it remains illegal at the federal level.

“Being in a dynamic emerging market means that there’s a lot of stuff that hasn’t been figured out, and it’s going to be challenging at times.”

Horvath says that compliance is the number one challenge, having to navigate differing laws across states and provinces. It also slows down the scalability of a business but “it’s worth it.”

Furthermore, dealing with an agricultural product possesses its own unique challenges.

“Things can go wrong,” said Horvath.

Part of GGB’s strategy is to partner with top quality producers in the medical and adult-use space, such as Nevada Organic Remedies LLC.

With 300 retail stores planned in the US, and a potential customer base of over 30 million in the next four years, Horvath is optimistic about securing a place in the cannabis market.

“How often in your lifetime do you get to be a part of an emerging market like this? And in my lifetime? Never, until now.”

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