Have You Heard……….

On Friday, the Manitoba government announced that it is moving forward on its plan for an open and competitive cannabis retail market. On June 1st, the province is opening the cannabis retail application process to all prospective retailers. This includes the introduction of a new controlled-access license for retailers. Manitoba will also continue to offer age-restricted license for retailers wishing to open stand-alone stores.   “We are pleased to open the market further by allowing more retailers to apply for retail licenses,” said Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton. “This move will enable local entrepreneurs to create jobs and support Manitoba’s economy, which is a critical step as we work toward rebuilding Manitoba in the wake of Covid-19.”  Applicants are required to successfully complete the required application process, enter into a Cannabis Store Retailer Agreement with Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, and be issued an applicable license from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.  There are currently 30 stores with age-restricted license in Manitoba. Retailers in this next phase will be limited to owning no more than 15 percent of stand-alone stores in Manitoba. This will be expanded as more stores enter the market. (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries - www.mbllpartners.ca/cannabis-partners/become-cannabis-retailer)…………

The imminent signing of a memorandum of understanding with the City of Longueuil is expected to pave the way for Devimco Immobilier’s major mixed use real estate project in the Montreal South Shore city’s downtown core and Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke métro station. The agreement must first be approved by Longueuil City Council later this week. Valued at nearly $500 million, this transit-oriented development project, with a total area of 1.2-million square feet, will include the construction of 1,200 housing units. The project will be built above and around the Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke métro station, a location that blends all the conditions needed for future success. The two project sites will create a synergy between the various components, to produce a quality living environment for future residents, workers and visitors. This is a highly strategic sector for public transit and mobility.  The project will include a residential component, with two 22-storey buildings for rental units and two 22-storey condominium towers. The rental buildings will overlook a vast lower extension above the existing métro station, while the condo towers will also be built over commercial galleries. They will be built on a portion of the P2 parking lot. Underground parking facilities will also be developed on the outskirts of the new buildings. (Devimco Immobilier – 450/645-2525)…………

Fashion retailer Groupe Dynamite has partnered with PayBright, a provider of installment payment plans for e-commerce and in-store purchases, in which the Dynamite and Garage Clothing online customers can select PayBright’s installment payment option at checkout.  PayBright does not require customers to sign up for a credit card and does not charge hidden fees, retroactive interest, or revolving interest charges. Toronto-based PayBright is partnered with over 6,000 domestic and international merchants, enabling them to offer installment payments to their Canadian consumers quickly and easily. E-commerce merchants that partner with PayBright are seeing growth in consumer traffic, increases in checkout conversions of ten to 25 percent, and average order values that are as much as 100 percent higher than orders completed with other payment methods. (PayBright- 877/276-2780)……………

The fast-growing Durham, North Carolina-based Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken chain of breakfast/lunch restaurants has just announced an area development agreement for the state of Virginia that extensively increases franchise expansion opportunities. Area development representatives David Dowdy, Matt Hurley and Nash Osborn of Virginia-based BDVA Holdings LLC have committed to opening a minimum of 25 Rise locations throughout Virginia over the next nine years.  Introduced in 2012, Rise currently operates 16 locations in six states, with over 100 units in development in major United States markets. The quick casual restaurants operate in 1000 to 1500 square foot locations. The chain is currently looking for experienced franchisees and qualified investors and has retained franchise development company Fransmart to handle the search. (Rise Biscuits Chickenwww.risebiscuitchicken.com) & (Fransmart – 703/537-5396)………

Edmonton-based cannabis company, Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Natick, Massachusetts-based Reliva LLC have entered into an agreement in which Aurora will acquire all of the issued and outstanding membership interests of Reliva. Under the terms of the agreement, members of Reliva will receive approximately US$40 million of Aurora common shares.  The transaction also includes a potential earn-out of up to a maximum of US$45 million payable in Aurora shares, cash or a combination thereof, over the next two years contingent upon Reliva achieving certain financial targets. The transaction is expected to close in June 2020. The transaction will combine Aurora's Canadian recreational brands, and Canadian and European medical market position with the U.S. hemp-derived CBD brand in retail stores. (Aurora Cannabis Inc. - www.auroramj.com) & (Reliva LLC – www.relivacdb.com)...........

Late last week, Statistics Canada reported that about 40 percent of Canadian retailers closed in March, effecting virtually every retail category. Motor vehicle and parts dealers, clothing and clothing accessories stores, and gasoline stations registered record declines in sales. Retail sales in Canada fell ten percent to $47.1-billion, the lowest level on record. The previous record was a drop of 4.5 percent registered in February 1998. Clothing stores sales were the most impacted, down 51 percent.  Motor vehicle and parts dealers were down 35 percent and furniture and home furnishings were down 24 percent.  Hobby, book and music stores were off by 23 percent and gas stations were down 19 percent. Food and beverage sales, general merchandise stores and health and personal care stores recorded increases. The pandemic saw many retailers open or expand eCommerce platforms which accounted for $2.2-billion in sales, 40 percent over March 2019………

On Friday, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. announced that it and certain of its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware siting the sudden impact on travel by the Covid-19 crisis, causing an abrupt decline in the vehicle rental company’s revenue and future booking. When the effects of the crisis began to manifest in March, causing an increase in car rental cancellations and a decline in forward bookings, the company moved quickly to adjust, ,reducing planned fleet levels through vehicle sales and by cancelling fleet orders, consolidating off-airport rental locations, deferring capital expenditures and cutting marketing spend, and implementing furloughs and layoffs of approximately 50 percent of its global workforce.  All of Hertz's businesses globally, including its Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Firefly, Hertz Car Sales, and Donlen subsidiaries, are open and serving customers. All reservations, promotional offers, vouchers, and customer and loyalty programs, including rewards points, are expected to continue as usual. (Hertz Corp. - www.hertz.com)........

And as I've recently learned from one to the industry's retired brokers, if the past few weeks has taught us anything, it's that stupidity spreads faster than any virus ever could.............