Couche-Tard Partners in Marijuana

Convenience-store retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has entered into a multiyear agreement with Canopy Growth Corp., a diversified cannabis and hemp company, to sell recreational marijuana in Ontario. Quebec-based Couche-Tard, owner of the Circle K c-store brand, has 9,943 convenience stores throughout North America, including 8,660 stores with motor fuel dispensing.

Canada is the world’s largest legal pot marketplace, having decriminalized the use of recreational marijuana in October 2018. In July 2017, Couche-Tard hired Montreal-based public relations firm Tact Intelligence-conseil to represent its interest in retail-marijuana sales.

Subsequent to this new formed partnership, and pending the results of a public consultation process, Couche-Tard has entered into a trademark license agreement with one of the winners of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) expression of interest application lottery, which will operate a “Tweed” branded retail store in London, Ontario, once the process is complete. The lottery winner will have full ownership and control over the London store.

The Ontario-based Canopy Growth operates Tweed retail stores in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador and has entered into supply agreements with every Canadian province and territory.

Through this partnership, Alimentation Couche-Tard will leverage Canopy Growth’s cannabis expertise and its experience with other age-restricted products (alcohol) to focus on the safe, responsible and lawful sale of cannabis, consistent with the legislation enacted by the federal and provincial governments.

The companies expect the Tweed store to open in April 2019. It will carry soft gels, oils and dried flower products along with a selection of accessories “that will allow customers to choose their own preferred way to consume cannabis, safely and responsibly.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.