Westleaf Cannabis set to open Warman store

Westleaf Cannabis President and CEO Scott Hurd

Warman’s second cannabis retail store, Prairie Records, is expected to opens its doors  at the end of  this month.

Scott Hurd, President and CEO of Westleaf Cannabis, said the Warman store will be the company’s first retail location to open under the Prairie Records banner.

“We’re really excited about this particular location,” said Hurd in an interview on Wednesday, January 9. “We’re expecting construction to be complete prior to the end of January.”

The building, located on 2nd Avenue North in Warman, required extensive renovations and upgrades to comply with provincial and federal health and security regulations. Recreational cannabis was legalized by the federal government in October, 2018, and the provincial government implemented regulations at that time governing its distribution and sale.

Hurd said the Prairie Records brand is a unique marketing concept that will set it apart from other cannabis retail stores. It allows consumers to browse, and select their choice of product from, displays that resemble retro-style record shops.

“The overall Canadian cannabis retail market is unlike any other retail experience in the world, because it’s so highly restricted,” said Hurd. “There is no actual product on the floor. Everything is under lock and key, so the challenge for all retailers is how to create a tactile and engaging consumer shopping experience that keeps them coming back.

“Prairie  Records is different because it provides an immersive and educational shopping experience that showcases the different brands by tying them to different types of music.”

Hurd said Westleaf Cannabis has plans for 30 retail cannabis locations across the country.

The company, which is headquartered in Calgary, announced on January 8 that it is now listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. The decision to become a publicly-listed company will expand the pool of investors, said Hurd.

“Ultimately, being listed on the TSX Venture Exchange will allow our company to tap into deeper pools of capital to continue financing our growth plans,” said Hurd. “Westleaf is one of the few truly vertically-integrated companies in this industry. We own, control, or have interests in assets across the Canadian cannabis value chain, from cultivation and production to extraction, processing and research and development fulfilment, which leads to the cornerstone of retail distribution.”

Hurd said young, high-growth companies typically start on the TSX Venture Exchange before transitioning to the TSX or other stock exchanges.

Westleaf’s largest partner is the Thunderchild First Nation, which has invested $8 million into the company. A major $25 million, 85,000-square foot cannabis cultivation facility is currently under construction in Battleford on land owned by the Thunderchild First Nation.

“We estimate the first phase of that facility will be operationalized in September of this year,” said Hurd.

He added that Westleaf “has been able to attract partnerships and investment from global leaders in the cannabis sector, including Tilray, VIVO Cannabis,  and Delta 9.”

ATB Financial is also a major investor, and Westleaf also recently announced a partnership with cannabis brand Ace Valley to pursue the development of Ace Valley retail locations in Ontario.

Renovations are currently underway at the building which will house the Prairie Records cannabis retail store in Warman

While it will take some time before the company can rely entirely on its own supply sources, Hurd said there won’t be any shortage of supply once the Warman store opens its doors.

“We are well-positioned to secure supply in the early going to ensure our stores in Warman and other communities are well-stocked,” said Hurd. “Eventually as we operationalize our cultivation facility and lab, we hope to utilize our retail stores as  portals to sell our product.

“We intend to carry a diversified product offering to provide the best customer shopping experience. Ultimately we want to see our own brands on our shelves.”