The parent company of Second Cup, which is currently undergoing a re-structuring as Aegis Brands (TSX: SCU), has completed its first of several planned conversions of previous coffee shops into cannabis stores.
On Friday, Hemisphere Cannabis Co. opened its doors for the first time at 1703 Avenue Road in Toronto. In a statement, the company said it will open six more locations in Ontario, the majority of which are also former Second Cup locations.
After first announcing plans to enter the weed space in 2018, the move comes as no surprise. Faced with intense competition in the café space, Second Cup has experienced a significant decline over the past decade.
While Starbucks stores proliferated, Second Cup’s peak of around 400 national franchises in the 1990s has dropped below 250 today.
But now the business hopes to brew itself a new fortune by pivoting to the cannabis space.
The concept of the new Hemisphere brand is premised on a familiar ‘cannabis-for-all’ customer experience.
Building off the navigational namesake, Aegis CEO Steven Pelton says they’ve created an environment focused on matching consumers with the right product.
“Whether they’re shopping for cannabis for the first time ever, for the first time in a long time, or for the first time today,” he said in the statement.
The vision behind the new Aegis corporate umbrella is building a portfolio of brands that can grow and flourish, Pelton says, by leveraging the expertise developed over 40 years in the Canadian retail and food service industry.
Given the company’s access to top-tier real estate across the country and its network of shared services, the CEO said the potential for Hemisphere is “limitless.”
The following locations of Hemisphere are “slated to open in the coming months:” 518 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto; 700 King Street West, Toronto; 65 Front Street East, Toronto; 955 Westney Road, Ajax; 171 Rideau Street, Ottawa; and 3838 Innes Road, Orléans.
The premier Second Cup coffee shop opened in Toronto in 1975.
It is important to note that under provincial, territorial and Health Canada’s national rules, cannabis consumption in a public setting like a cafe remains prohibited across the country. In addition, legal weed can’t be sold within an establishment that is licensed to sell food and beverages.
Top image via Aegis Brands