Ottawa-based National Access Cannabis acquires Albertan retail brand

Cannabis

Ottawa’s National Access Cannabis (TSX-V:META) has acquired an Alberta-based marijuana retail brand, expanding its already “aggressive” push into western Canada’s pot market.

The deal, which will see the Ottawa-based company fully acquire Alberta’s NewLeaf brand, was first announced Monday and quickly closed on Tuesday.

NAC will pay $5.9 million in cash for NewLeaf with an additional $23.6 million in shares to follow on the condition that the company is granted a number of cannabis retail licences.

NewLeaf currently has 17 retail outlets under construction, all of which are anticipated to open by Oct. 17 – the date recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada. The company is licensed for 20 retail locations today with applications for another five pending.

With the latest acquisition, NAC says it expects to have up to 70 cannabis retail locations open across western Canada – where private pot sales will be permitted – by the end of the year. An additional 100 to 150 outlets are expected in 2019, subject to regulatory approval.

NAC has expressed an interest in tackling Ontario’s cannabis market, which premier Doug Ford has said he’ll open up to a private model. The firm also has a partnership with Second Cup to convert some of the coffee chain’s cafes into cannabis lounges, and acquired a pharmacy-focused company to expand its push into medical marijuana.

“Between our organic retail opportunities, this acquisition and our strategic alliance with Second Cup, NAC is positioned to become one of Canada’s largest national cannabis retailers,” said Mark Goliger, CEO of NAC, in a statement.

“We have set aggressive but achievable goals over the next 18 months and expect to open up to 220 retail cannabis locations over that period.”

Goliger recently told OBJ that the company is setting out to hire 700 employees across Canada in the midst of its retail push.

Shares of NAC were up roughly seven per cent on the TSX Venture Exchange on Tuesday.