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June 20, 2024


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Westleaf (WL.V) expands into Manitoba

On May 21, 2019 Westleaf (WL.V)  announced that it has been chosen to open a cannabis retail store in the southern Manitoba border community of Altona (pop. 4,300).

Founded in 1876 by Mennonites from the Russian Empire who spoke with a “low German dialect” – the small community is centered around farming and agriculture.

“Last year, the town developed a bylaw which deals with the use of cannabis in public places and provides some direction on where such a store can operate,” stated the Pembina Valley Newspaper, “Mayor Al Friesen says if Westleaf decides to open a store, the economic development officer for SEED would become involved”

SEED identifies, develops and promotes economic development opportunities in the RPGA (Rhineland, Plum Coulee, Gretna, Altona) region.

“Westleaf’s retail model is to use the record store concept to create an ‘album’ of sorts for each strain, that would include branding, strain info, a little text, images – and let consumers ‘leaf’ through them in the same way we used to leaf through vinyl albums,” wrote Equity Guru’s Chris Parry.

Westleaf is one of seven retail operators selected by the province of Manitoba for new retail cannabis licences.

Deal Highlights:

Retail Expansion: A retail location in Manitoba expands Westleaf’s footprint to 4 Western Canadian provinces, executing WL’s multi-province approach to retail distribution.
Ecommerce Expansion: Option to launch province-wide online sales in Manitoba and replicate operations already built and operating in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba retail regulations allow for province-wide online sales. Westleaf’s Manitoba strategy will follow the Prairie Records cannabis retail brand strategy currently serving the province of Saskatchewan.

Three weeks ago, WL launched a new marijuana marketplace for the residents of Saskatchewan.

“By logging onto the Prairie Records Website Saskatchewan cannabis consumers can order weed products and related accessories for immediate delivery throughout the province,” wrote Equity Guru’s Sam Bourgi.

The online store will serve Saskatchewan through a wide selection of products, including 65 stock keeping units (SKUs) available for expedited delivery across the province. Same-day delivery options for most of Saskatchewan is expected in the coming weeks.

Westleaf Update:

  • Building out vertically integrated business model
  • Near completion of Calgary cannabis extraction
  • Near-completion of Calgary manufacturing facility
  • On Schedule cultivation construction in Saskatchewan
  • Cultivation facility completion estimated for Q4, 2019

Westleaf currently has a market cap of $86 million.  Despite expansion of retail and on-line business, and hitting its milestones with the build-out of cultivation and extraction facilities, the stock has had a rough 2019 – as cannabis investors favoured international stories and industrial-sized grow-ops.

In his influential 1949 book: The Organization of Behavior, Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb theorized that “one thought is more likely to trigger another thought” if those two thoughts are linked together multiple times in the past.

The retail concept behind Westleaf’s (WL.V) Prairie Records acknowledges the nostalgic link between music and cannabis.

“The concept of the cannabis store taps into music – an element that is deeply woven into every aspect of our lives, no matter who or where you are,” stated Westleaf CEO Scott Hurd.

Hurd accepts that the current Canadian cannabis marketing regulations make it almost impossible to create powerful retail brands.  He’s bypassing that by creating a strong brand association between the customer and the store (rather than the product).

With its innovative method of reaching their demographic, WL is erasing the head shop stigma of selling legal weed, while securing Westleaf as a provider of “premium craft cannabis for the discerning Canadian cannabis connoisseur.”

A few weeks ago, Equity.Guru’s Chris Parry spoke with Westleaf CEO, Scott Hurd, to get an inside look at the company, Canada’s cannabis retail sector and the potential the company holds for investors over the next 12 months.

Tilray (TLRY.Q) invested $2.9 million in Westleaf, Vivo (VIVO.V) invested $5 million, and ATB Financial committed $30 million.

“The opportunity to add a Manitoba cannabis retail store is a positive step in building our vertically integrated business model across the country,” stated Hurd, “In addition to building a cannabis retail store we also have an opportunity to launch our ecommerce platform across the entire province to introduce our brand to a new and large customer base.”

By mid-morning, WL is up 5% on 500,000 shares traded.

Full Disclosure: Westleaf is an Equity Guru marketing client, and we own the stock.

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