Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that Canada is about to legalize cannabis commerce among adults across the nation and that the cannabis industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is set to get even bigger. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that major mainstream companies are moving into the cannabis space, but it is still remarkable to see that Loblaw Companies Limited, the largest Canadian supermarket chain, throw its hat into the ring. A similar comparison to the United States would be Walmart or Kroger entering the industry.
Loblaw, a leader in the country’s supermarket industry, said some of its locations in Newfoundland are among 23 selected as “qualified applicants” to become licensed cannabis retailers.
“While people might imagine recreational cannabis on our grocery shelves in Newfoundland and Labrador, this is not our plan,” the company told Marijuana Business Daily in a statement.
Instead, Loblaw intends to sell adult-use cannabis products behind the counter in small, existing tobacco shops. The shops would be adjacent – and separate – to its wholly owned chain of Dominion grocery store outlets in that province.
At first glance, it is surprising to learn that the biggest supermarket chain in Canada is poised to join the cannabis industry, Loblaw has a long history of forward-thinking innovations. Starting back in 1919, Loblaw started a new retail concept that they developed that combined cash-and-carry and self-service and in 1949, the company once again featured innovations to the retail industry when it started using its “healthfully-cool equipped air-conditioning.” The new air conditioners were used in most of Loblaw’s new supermarkets. The grocery chain also introduced automatic doors for grocery shoppers.
It will be interesting to see how Loblaw, with its long history of innovations in the grocery business, is able to transfer its business acumen to the cannabis industry. While the grocery chain can hire people with experience in the cannabis business, it will be playing catch-up to virtually every other licensed cannabis business, including large companies like Canopy Growth, which also just announced that it will have licensed businesses in Newfoundland as well. The number of big players in the cannabis industry should provide low prices for consumers, if the government doesn’t overregulate and tax the industry too much, and hopefully, craft cannabis businesses will find a niche so they can also thrive in the upcoming Canadian market among these retailer giants.
Legalization is around the corner in Canada, so now is the time to learn the latest and network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and activists in the industry at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver this June 24th-25th. Get your tickets by June 3rd to save $200!