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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. Fire and Flower store under construction in upscale Toronto shopping area.
  2. Company’s Alberta, Saskatchewan store sales at $10-million since October.
  3. Retailer opens two accessories-only stores in Alberta

Edmonton-based Fire and Flower is building a flagship retail outlet on Canada’s most expensive street after sales at its Alberta and Saskatchewan cannabis stores reached $10-million, but this new venue in Toronto may not open until the Ontario government makes more retail licences available.

“We don’t have any plans currently to have that as a licensed store before the private system becomes open to all businesses in December,” said Trevor Fencott, Fire and Flower chief executive officer.

“We would like it to be a licensed store. At the moment we are not engaged with Toronto lottery winners for that particular location. It would require a tremendous amount of capex to build out. ”

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Due to the national supply shortage, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario gave only 25 winners the right to apply for one of the province’s first legal cannabis store licences, and Fire and Flower was not one of them. Many retailers have offered the winners millions of dollars for the right to brand and operate stores.

Fire and Flower is in discussions with some of the winners but “it would be premature to say we have anything definitive with them,” Mr. Fencott said.

The two-story Fire and Flower store is under construction on Toronto’s trendy Bloor Street in the Yorkville shopping area, where rent is roughly $300 per square foot, making it the most expensive street in Canada, said Brandon Gorman, vice-president of retail services in Toronto for real estate brokerage Cushman and Wakefield.

Mr. Gorman, who is knowledgeable of the area, estimates that the store is just over 2,100 square feet in size and will cost nearly $700,000 annually, after including taxes and other operating costs.

Though Fire and Flower has opened two accessories-only stores in Alberta and plans to do the same in Ontario on April 1 while awaiting retail cannabis licences, the Bloor Street store will not open until it is permitted to sell recreational marijuana, Mr. Fencott said.

“We’re playing the long game in Ontario. We stand ready to work with licensed lottery winners to make sure that Ontario gets stores up on time and that the stores that do get up, are fully compliant,” Mr. Fencott said.

“We are going to open some of our stores in Ontario as accessories and education centers.”

Fire and Flower started with five stores when recreational pot was legalized in October and now has a total of nine selling cannabis in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The national supply shortage of marijuana for the recreational market caused the Alberta government to temporarily stop issuing retail licences in November.

While the company awaits new licences, Fire and Flower has opened two accessories-only stores in Alberta and has six more on track to open, according to the company website.

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