Canada's largest publicly traded cannabis retailer by revenue Meta Growth (TSXV:META) (OTCMKTS:NACNF) had an exciting news day on Thursday, revealing that it has entered into a loan agreement with Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) that will see the Manitoba First Nation lend up to $11 million to META.
At the same time, the company announced that it has entered into an agreement with one of the Ontario cannabis store lottery winners for an anticipated new cannabis retail location in Toronto.
Meta Growth has been working rapidly to build up its retail presence across Canada, with an expansion plan that includes opening a total of 90 retail locations by the end of 2020. Both the loan agreement with OCN and the Ontario lottery agreement signal the company's ongoing commitment to becoming a nationwide leader in cannabis retail.
Meta Growth Deepens Relationship with OCN
Meta Growth announced that it will receive up to $11 million in funding from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, which is one of its largest shareholders, to help fund the buildout of its Ontario cannabis retail portfolio.
OCN's follow-on investment in the company follows the province's recent announcement to open the market for retail cannabis stores in January.
“We are very grateful to have such a supportive investor as OCN”, said Meta Growth CEO Mark Goliger. "META has already assembled a portfolio of class A retail sites in Ontario. With OCN’s funding, construction can begin so the stores can be completed and ready for March 2020 when the AGCO has indicated that it will begin licensing retail stores.”
OCN, a self-governing northern Manitoba First Nation, also sees the deepening relationship with Meta Growth as a strategic move on their end.
“OCN has a diversified investment portfolio”, explained OCN Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair. "The fastest growing industry today is cannabis. We are very excited to be a significant investor in META and are committed to assisting the Company as it continues to carry out its strategy to expand its market share. Our partnership with META, called “growing together”, benefits both our organizations.
He added that the long term returns from the Nation's investment portfolio will be pumped back into its community’s infrastructure, education, and medical services and that they look forward to a long and prosperous relationship between the two.
Meta Growth Expands Retail Portfolio with Ontario Lottery Winner
Meta Growth currently holds 36 licensed and has 34 operating stores in its network, which the company either owns or has partnership interest in, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Now, thanks to the agreement with one of the Ontario cannabis store lottery winners, Meta has gained access to the province's lucrative cannabis market.
The lottery winner, 11522302 Canada Inc., has submitted an application to own and operate a cannabis retail store at 378 Yonge Street in downtown Toronto pending regulatory approval by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
As per the agreement, the store will be registered as Meta Cannabis Co., making this the first store to be opened under the company's newly redesigned brand and retail design. Meta Growth will also act as a consulting partner and service provider to support the store's operations.
According to the company, the new cannabis retail space concept is multidimensional and is designed to be a cool and comfortable environment that creates a unique vibe and customer experience. Meanwhile, the new Meta Cannabis Co. logo has been redesigned to be a multidimensional wordmark, which represents vibe, cannabis culture, being introspective and going beyond.
“With today’s announcement, the newly refined META brand is set to launch in Ontario – a solid first step to spark our expansion across the province,” explained Goliger. “This premium real estate location will introduce a high volume of customers to the META brand. Through our agreement with the owner, we plan to make this site one of the top-performing stores in the country.”
Partnering with Meta Growth made a lot of sense to 11522302 Canada Inc. because of the company's "experience managing multiple cannabis retail outlets across several provinces, as well as its cannabis product and service expertise and the stunning retail design of its stores."
Investors who are interested in the cannabis retail space will want to keep an eye on Meta Growth's continued expansion across Canada.
The market reacted favorably to the news, with META stock increasing by 8.62% by 2 pm EST to $0.32 CAD. During the same period, the company's OTC stock was up 8.03% to $0.24 USD.
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