Cannabis entrepreneur Kevin Nafte has joined Lyphe Australia as general manager with a brief to make the firm’s wholesale division profitable this year.

Nafte has relocated from Uruguay, where he ran his own cannabis lifestyle and wellness brand, YVY Life.

The move comes after managing director Tracey Loton left the company to set up her own consultancy three months after its UK parent went into administration.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK business – which has now been sold – the Australian arm continues to trade, with Nafte reporting into Lyphe Group founding investor George Scorsis. 

Kevin Nafte

Having relocated his family from South America, Nafte told Cannabiz he had “open, honest and transparent” conversations with Lyphe’s stakeholders about the company’s situation prior to taking the role and was satisfied it has a long-term future in Australia.

“I’ve got a clear picture of what the financial situation is of the Australian entity,” he added.

The local company has two brands – Aelleve and Wild Flower – with Nafte and three medical science liaisons (MSLs) charged with building commercial partnerships and relationships with prescribers.

He said the focus is on “long-term, steady growth” and careful cost control with a view to achieving profitability by the end of 2024.

While already “pretty lean”, Nafte added he would be looking to streamline operations, while building on Loton’s work in developing commercial partnerships.

“We’re really appreciative of everything that Tracey did, she’s created a really solid foundation,” he said. “The next phase is streamlining processes and systems, making things more efficient, and building out the supply chain so we have continuity, which is going to be crucial.”

The firm will also be tweaking its product offering, with more competitively priced flower products available to concession card holders under the Aelleve brand – which also has an oil range – and Wild Flower remaining its premium offering.

It is also planning to introduce a live rosin, high-THC vape in day and night formats and, potentially, pastilles/gummies.

“The idea is to [deliver] what the market’s asking for, diversify our portfolio and use my experience in other markets to see what other innovative products we can bring in,” Nafte said. 

While the firm’s oil and flower ranges are currently imported from Portugal and Canada, that could also change.

“I have a vast network in Latin America, so I’ll probably look at some options [there] going forward,” he added.

Lyphe Australia’s telehealth clinic – previously managed by Georgie Lutz – is now headed up by Laura Farhat.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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