Will the ‘c’ in c-stores soon stand for cannabis?
Convenience stores have been selling beer, tobacco and related accessories for years, so it probably isn’t a major surprise that, with marijuana being legalized for recreational use in many places, these merchants are seeking to cash in on a market worth billions of dollars.
The clearest example is the announcement that Alimentation Touche-Card, the largest operator of convenience stores in Canada with nearly 7,800 stores in the U.S., has formed a strategic partnership with Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis and hemp producer, to open its very first location selling cannabis and related products. Currently, only government operated facilities may sell cannabis in Canada, but that is about to change on April 1 when private concerns may apply to dispense marijuana and related products.
The store, owned and operated by Alimentation Touche-Card under trademark license as part of Canopy’s Tweed brand, will open in London, Ontario in April. The store will sell a variety of products such as dried flower products, oils, softgels and cannabis accessories.
The partnership between the two companies was formed based on Canopy’s expertise in cannabis and Alimentation Couche-Tard’s experience selling age-restricted products to consumers and operating physical retail locations. The two companies see the deal as the start of a partnership that has potential well beyond the borders of Canada.
Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard, said his company was “excited about taking a leadership role in the development of cannabis retailing excellence in this major Canadian market. We believe the Ontario Cannabis Store and private retailers will co-exist under a tightly regulated framework with common goals to protect public health and safety.”
Mark Zekulin, president and co-CEO of Canopy Growth, said his company’s brand “is synonymous with having informed staff who can help consumers find the right option for them, whether they are a new or an experienced consumer.”
Canopy Growth currently operates Tweed stores in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How quickly do you expect retailers to get into the sale of cannabis and related products, once allowed to do so by law? Do you see convenience stores or some other retail channel as a logical distributor of legal cannabis and related products?