Couche-Tard Expands Partnership With Canadian Cannabis Company

Fire & Flower will have 1st opportunity to negotiate with c-store retailer to enter new cannabis businesses in Canada
Fire & Flower cannabis store
Photograph courtesy of Fire & Flower

Convenience-store retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard and cannabis retailer and technology platform Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. are expanding their partnership with ambitions of opening more stores in Canada and beyond.  

The companies completed a Master License Agreement that will give Fire & Flower the exclusive right of first opportunity to negotiate with Couche-Tard to enter new retail cannabis businesses and franchise agreements in Canada, and potentially retail expansion to other legal cannabis markets outside the country.  

Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec, committed to exclusively develop Fire & Flower branded retail cannabis stores in Ontario under the agreement. The first five Fire & Flower-branded retail cannabis stores will be adjacent to Circle K c-stores in the greater Toronto area. They are currently operating as MC Cannabis Inc., a subsidiary of Couche-Tard, but will be rebranded to Fire & Flower, the cannabis company said.

  • Alimentation Couche-Tard is No. 2 on CSP’s Top 40 update to the 2022 Top 202 ranking of U.S. convenience-store chains by company-owned store count. Watch for the updated list in June.

The partnership will leverage Couche-Tard’s real estate footprint and resources to develop licensee stores; help Fire & Flower expand its Hifyre digital retail platform in Canada and potentially expand to legal cannabis markets in Europe and the United States; and grow the Spark Perks membership program and Spark Marketplace App, the company said.

"Couche-Tard is pleased to have entered into a Master License Agreement with Fire & Flower,” said Steve Pitts, vice president of operations for Central Canada at Couche-Tard. “The Hifyre digital retail platform, including the Spark Perks membership program and the Spark Marketplace app, will bring a distinct competitive advantage to our cannabis stores. The current co-located cannabis stores adjacent to Circle K locations and anchored by convenience stores, fuel and car wash offerings are showing growth and we look forward to combining this with the recognized Fire & Flower brand and technology-enabled shopping experience to make it easy for customers.”

The companies have been growing their partnership over the past year. In September, the companies announced they opened a Spark Perks Cannabis Store adjacent to a Circle K in Brampton, Ontario. And in November, Couche-Tard and Fire & Flower agreed to more co-located licensing deals and store acquisitions in Canada.  

The latest agreement is another step forward for the companies, Stéphane Trudel, CEO of Fire & Flower, said.

“We continue to work closely together to build a sustainable growth engine, leveraging Couche-Tard's high quality real estate assets, retail operations expertise and capital, accelerating our path to profitability and goal of free cash flow,” Trudel said. “Successful retail is built on delighting our customers with great locations, people and products. Today, we have expanded our ability to grow the Fire & Flower network, in Canada and other international legal cannabis markets by adding this scalable building block that we can further refine together in the first federally legal cannabis market in the world.”

Fire & Flower, Toronto, has more than 90 cannabis retail stores operating in its network under the Fire & Flower, Friendly Stranger, Happy Dayz, Firebird Delivery and Spark Perks brands. Its technology development subsidiary Hifyre advances its proprietary retail operations and provides additional independent revenue streams.

The company already has plans in place to expand in the United States if federal legislation of adult-use cannabis is passed.

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