(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)
One of Canada’s biggest supermarket operators plans to enter the business of selling recreational marijuana products pending legalization late this summer.
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.
Vahan Ajamian, a Toronto-based analyst with Beacon Securities, said Loblaw’s entry is a signal “we could see enhanced competition” in provinces that allow private retail.
“It shows that wherever private retail is allowed, Canada’s big retailers like Loblaw and Couche-Tard are going to want to get in on the action, one way or another,” he said. Couche-Tard is a convenience store operator.
Loblaw said its plan to sell recreational cannabis in Newfoundland “has nothing to do with Shoppers Drug Mart or our application to distribute medical cannabis, which remains our focus.”
Earlier this year, Loblaw became one of the first major companies in Canada to cover MMJ in its employee medical plan.
Industry heavyweight Canopy Growth also announced the location of a new production facility and additional retail outlets in Newfoundland.
Canopy spokesman Jordan Sinclair said the two locations announced on the government website today are in addition to the four disclosed in December.
Canopy and Loblaw are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as WEED and L, respectively.
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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