Kaival Brands Appoints Executive Chairman Barry Hopkins as Interim Chief Executive Officer and President

12/28/2023
Former Altria and Turning Point Brands Senior Executive Brings Decades of Experience and Relationships to Kaival Brands

GRANT-VALKARIA, Fla., Dec. 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kaival Brands Innovations Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: KAVL) ("Kaival Brands," the "Company," or "we") today announced that it has expanded the role of Barry M. Hopkins, Executive Chairman, to include the positions of Interim Chief Executive Officer & President.

Former Chief Executive Officer & President, Eric Mosser, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer & President of Kaival Brands International, the Company’s subsidiary which has an international licensing relationship with Philip Morris Products S.A., a wholly owned affiliate of Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM).

Niraj Patel, Founder & Chief Science Officer of Kaival Brands, stated, “When I founded Kaival Brands, I envisioned a diverse platform that could capture the tailwinds generated by our core offering, the BIDI® Stick electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS). Barry understands this vision, the importance of regulatory compliance and youth access prevention, and has done an exceptional job since joining Kaival Brands. He has eagerly taken on increasing levels of responsibility, leveraging his decades of experience in management in our industry. His appointment as Interim CEO and President was a natural progression, and we look forward to potentially expanding our excellent management team further during 2024 with a permanent CEO and/or President as our needs dictate. Having Barry in this position now is particularly important since we are at a significant inflection point, as we remain hopeful that FDA will soon complete its review of the pending Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) for the tobacco-flavored BIDI® Stick Classic. If we receive a Marketing Granted Order for this product, we will have significant momentum in the new year with the ability to continue to transition adult cigarette smokers, drive revenue and grow our company.”

According to a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement, the agency’s next status report regarding its review of the still-pending PMTAs for major brands and market share leading ENDS products is due to be filed by January 22, 2024 with the U.S. District Court in Maryland. Although FDA has not indicated publicly which PMTAs it is prioritizing for review, Kaival Brands is hopeful that the BIDI® Stick Classic will be included in the January 2024 status report. The Company also anticipates the PMTAs for the other 10 BIDI-branded SKUs will remain in scientific review.

Recently, the Company has been encouraged by the coordinated efforts of the FDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other government agencies to increase their coordinated focus on enforcement. The Company believes it has been hurt by illicit vaping products flooding the market, and it is now preparing to scale along with other legal products assuming increased enforcement continues alongside the January announcement by the FDA.

Following his appointment as Chairman of the Board in March 2023, Mr. Hopkins has played an integral role in the re-development of Kaival’s executive leadership team. He is a 40-year tobacco industry veteran with deep operational experience and a long track record of strategic planning and execution, organizational development, and regulatory compliance. He has overseen significant growth in each of his previous roles, including:

  • Prior to retiring from Altria as Vice President of National Accounts in 2005, Mr. Hopkins led a team of National Account Executives responsible for more than 50% of Philip Morris’ U.S.A. sales with consecutive market share gains over a three-year period.
  • As Regional Vice President, he led a sales organization of 600+ people in managing a $1.2 billion operation that consistently exceeded sales and market share and revenue expectations for three consecutive years.
  • After retiring from Altria, Mr. Hopkins joined Turning Point Brands where he led the post-acquisition operational activities of VaporBeast/Vapor Shark. As acting COO of the combined entities, Mr. Hopkins led his team in achieving revenue growth from $48 million to $98 million in less than eight months.
  • In his last role at Turning Point Brands, Mr. Hopkins served as Senior Vice President of Executive Organizational Development where he led that company’s senior management team in building the infrastructure for an enhanced performance management system and development of a new strategic planning process with a focus on mission critical initiatives which contributed to eight record-setting quarters in terms of revenue growth.

Mr. Hopkins will spearhead the Company under the direction of the Board of Directors with a continued focus on accelerating revenue growth, improving operational efficiencies and executing Kaival Brands’ strategic growth and diversification initiatives, while remaining in compliance with applicable state and federal regulations. The Company, alongside BIDI Vapor (the maker of the BIDI® Stick), is also continuing to focus on working with Philip Morris to accelerate the international distribution of ENDS products using BIDI technology (which Philip Morris markets under the brand name “VEEV Now”), as part of Philip Morris’s plan to deliver a smoke-free future.

As Executive Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer and President, Mr. Hopkins will continue his service as the Company’s principal executive officer. The Board of Directors of Kaival Brands plans to expand the Company’s senior management team by commencing a search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer and/or President during 2024 as the Company’s needs dictate.

Mr. Hopkins commented, “During my time as Executive Chairman, I have become increasingly convinced of the strength and potential of our products and our business. Demand for our BIDI Stick remains robust, and we continue to expand our channels to market and increase distribution in compliance with the law. We are in an advantageous position to capture a measurable share in the markets we serve. I look forward to working with the team to execute our strategic initiatives and importantly, return Kaival Brands business to growth.”

ABOUT KAIVAL BRANDS

Based in Grant-Valkaria, Florida, Kaival Brands is a company focused on incubating innovative and profitable adult-focused products into mature and dominant brands, with a current focus on the distribution of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) also known as “e-cigarettes”. Our business plan is to seek to diversify into distributing other nicotine and non-nicotine delivery system products (including those related to hemp-derived cannabidiol (known as CBD) products). Kaival Brands and Philip Morris Products S.A. (via sublicense from Kaival Brands) are the exclusive global distributors of all products manufactured by Bidi Vapor.

Learn more about Kaival Brands at https://ir.kaivalbrands.com/overview/default.aspx.

ABOUT BIDI VAPOR

Based in Melbourne, Florida, Bidi Vapor maintains a commitment to responsible, adult-focused marketing, supporting age-verification standards and sustainability through its BIDI® Cares recycling program. Bidi Vapor’s premier device, the BIDI ® Stick, is a premium product made with high-quality components, a UL-certified battery and technology designed to deliver a consistent vaping experience for adult smokers 21 and over. Bidi Vapor is also adamant about strict compliance with all federal, state and local guidelines and regulations. At Bidi Vapor, innovation is key to its mission, with the BIDI ® Stick promoting environmental sustainability, while providing a unique vaping experience to adult smokers.

Nirajkumar Patel, the Company’s Chief Science and Regulatory Officer and director, owns and controls Bidi Vapor. As a result, Bidi Vapor is considered a related party of the Company.

For more information, visit www.bidivapor.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release and the statements of the Company’s management and partners included herein and related to the subject matter herein includes statements that constitute “forward-looking statements” (as defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended), which are statements other than historical facts. You can identify forward-looking statements by words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “position,” “should,” “strategy,” “target,” “will,” and similar words. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release. Although we believe that the plans, intentions, and expectations reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements are reasonable, there is no assurance that these plans, intentions, or expectations will be achieved. Therefore, actual outcomes and results (including, without limitation, the impact of Mr. Hopkins’ appointment as Interim Chief Executive Officer and President on the Company’s business and results of operations, as well as the results of the FDA’s pending PMTA review of the Bidi Classic) could materially and adversely differ from what is expressed, implied, or forecasted in such statements. Our business may be influenced by many factors that are difficult to predict, involve uncertainties that may materially affect results, and are often beyond our control. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: (i) future actions by the FDA that could impact our business and prospects, (ii) the outcome of FDA’s scientific review of Bidi Vapor’s pending FDA PMTAs, (iii) the results of international marketing and sales efforts by Philip Morris International, the Company’s international distribution partner, (iv) how quickly domestic and international markets adopt our products, (v) the scope of future FDA enforcement of regulations in the ENDS industry, (vi) the FDA’s approach to the regulation of synthetic nicotine and its impact on our business, (vii) potential federal and state flavor bans and other restrictions on ENDS products, (viii) the duration and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and impact on the demand for the products we distribute, (ix) general economic uncertainty in key global markets and a worsening of global economic conditions or low levels of economic growth, (x) the effects of steps that we could take to reduce operating costs, (xi) our inability to generate and sustain profitable sales growth, including sales growth in U.S. and international markets, (xii) circumstances or developments that may make us unable to implement or realize anticipated benefits, or that may increase the costs, of our current and planned business initiatives, (xiii) significant changes in our relationships with our distributors or sub-distributors and (xiv) other factors detailed by us in our public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the disclosures under the heading “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 27, 2023 and accessible at www.sec.gov. All forward-looking statements included in this press release are expressly qualified in their entirety by such cautionary statements. Except as required under the federal securities laws and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules and regulations, we do not have any intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements publicly, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Contact:
Brett Maas, Managing Partner
Hayden IR
(646) 536-7331
brett@haydenir.com


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Source: Kaival Brands Innovations Group, Inc.