National Access Cannabis (NAC) is quickly rolling out new stores and is partnering with First Nations in Manitoba to open retail stores. As of mid-December, four First Nations retail stores had opened under the META brand, and NAC plans to open four other stores in partnership with Manitoban First Nations in early 2019.
Two of the stores partnered with the Long Plain First Nation, and on December 7 the first legal store opened on a Winnipeg urban reserve. A signatory to Treaty One, Long Plain First Nation is a proud Ojibway and Dakota community in the Central Plains Region of Manitoba, situated on a land base of 10,800 acres. The three-acre property became an urban reserve in 2013, making history as the first of its kind in the province.
Another store opened in Thompson on December 12 and is operated by the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) supporting NCN’s vision to sustain a prosperous socio-economic future by providing new jobs and an ongoing revenue source. The store’s first purchase was to Thompson’s mayor Colleen Smook.
Long Plain Madison Reserve will supply legal cannabis, following the META model of safety, security, and harm reduction while providing its community economic opportunities and access to safe and legal cannabis.
Staffing & Training
The stores will be staffed by First Nations’ members who have been trained using NAC’s proprietary model to ensure safe, secure, and responsible distribution of legal cannabis.
Sarah Bezanson, Director of Training for NewLeaf Cannabis, explains, “Cannabis is coming out of a long period of prohibition, which has led to many misconceptions, and a lot of misinformation. We wanted a program that would address that frankly and provide a scientific grounding in cannabis for our staff, equipping them to share that knowledge with our community.”
NAC’s Growth Plans
Mark Goliger, CEO of NAC, says, “Adding six [META] stores in Manitoba to our 14 NewLeaf locations in Alberta, brings us to a total of 20 stores, maintaining NAC as the largest private retailer in Canada. This is just the beginning–we’re still growing.”
NAC is looking to open a total of 50 locations between META and NewLeaf across Canada by the end of the year and plans to have a total of 150 retail locations operational during 2019, subject to regulatory approvals. Goliger states, “With our growth plans over the next 12 months we expect to remain the largest private cannabis retailer in the country and to utilize both our scale and operational expertise to drive returns for our shareholders.”
NAC achieved $3.95 million in cumulative sales from 18 stores in its first 50 days from retail operations. The average gross margin on these sales was over 30%, with consumable cannabis making up 94% of total sales.
Top photo: Meta Cannabis Supply Co. store opening at the Long Plain Madison Reserve in Winnipeg.
L-R Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Tim Daniels, CEO Arrowhead Development Corporation, Heather Pelletier, Manager, Chief Dennis Meeches, Long Plain First Nation