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The future is 420 for Canadian coffee giant Second Cup

Canadian coffee giant Second Cup still plans to covert several of its 270 coffee shops into thriving retail cannabis stores.

On Friday, the company’s President and CEO, Steven Pelton, said Second Cup will be taking a more active role to obtain retail cannabis licenses, with the goal to operate retail cannabis stores, initially, in both Alberta and Ontario.

“My focus is to build shareholder value through three key strategies that are already underway: strategic acquisitions, further pursuit of retail cannabis opportunities and accelerating Second Cup’s brand growth primarily through development in non-traditional channels,” said Pelton. 

In addition to converting two of its Calgary locations into pot shops, the company will “aggressively pursue” new retail cannabis opportunities in Ontario. The company currently operates 130 cafes in the province.

Once a pioneer in the world of upscale coffee, Second Cup has been struggling to find its place amongst more dominant players, including Starbucks and Tim Hortons, as well as increasingly popular independent craft purveyors of java. In 2017 the company reported a net income of just $110,000.

In April 2018, Second Cup announced its partnership with National Access Cannabis (NAC), a network of medical cannabis centers across Canada, and identified more than 20 locations to convert. 

While the joint venture nearly resulted in at least one retail store in Calgary, the country faced a national cannabis shortage just after marijuana was legalized on Oct. 17, 2018. Consequently, NAC was unable to secure a license.

Following a brief moratorium on accepting new retail cannabis license applications, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is now issuing up to five licenses a week. Currently, there are more than 200 cannabis retail license holders in Alberta. In Ontario, there are less than 25. However, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will hold a lottery for the second round of retail store authorizations this month, and 50 more stores are expected to open beginning in October.

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