Fire & Flower, Couche-Tard sign cannabis retail licensing deal for Canada, abroad

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Canadian cannabis retailer Fire & Flower Holdings signed a master licensing agreement with key investor and strategic partner Alimentation Couche-Tard, the multinational gas station and convenience store giant that owns Circle K and more.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Fire & Flower is required to notify Couche-Tard only of new franchise or licensing opportunities and has agreed to negotiate with Couche-Tard for an exclusive negotiation period prior to entering into a new franchise or licensing agreement in Canada, the U.S. and certain European markets,” Fire & Flower CEO Stéphane Trudel, a former Couche-Tard executive, wrote in an emailed statement to MJBizDaily.

“Conversely, Couche-Tard is required to notify F&F of new opportunities relating to cannabis retail store operations in Canada, the U.S. and certain European markets, and has agreed to negotiate with F&F for an exclusive negotiation period prior to entering into any new business relationships.”

Couche-Tard “has exclusively committed to developing Fire & Flower branded retail cannabis stores in Ontario,” according to a Monday news release.

Under the agreement, five already-opened MC Cannabis stores in the greater Toronto area – all located next to Couche-Tard’s Circle K convenience stores – will be rebranded to Fire & Flower.

“We continue to work closely together to build a sustainable growth engine, leveraging Couche-Tard’s high quality real estate assets, retail operations expertise and capital, accelerating our path to profitability and goal of free cash flow,” Trudel noted in the release.

“As we look to markets opening in the United States and Europe, we will work alongside our strategic partner to expand Fire & Flower to international markets,” he added.

Couche-Tard owns about 35% of Fire & Flower and is a key lender to the cannabis retailer.

The Circle K division of Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard made headlines last October for a deal with Green Thumb Industries to locate medical marijuana stores next to Circle K convenience stores in Florida.

That deal is now mired in litigation.

Fire & Flower operated 92 Canadian cannabis retail stores as of the end of 2022 and posted a net loss of 89.5 million Canadian dollars (roughly $67 million) for its 2022 fiscal year.

The company’s shares trade as FAF on the Toronto Stock Exchange.