Vancouver's Donnelly Group gets into the cannabis industry

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On Monday the company released a statement confirming its new cannabis retail venture.

“Nine locations of Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store are set to open in rapid succession across B.C. and Ontario beginning April 2019,” the statement read.

Eight of the nine stores were confirmed for B.C., including locations on Robson Street, Granville Street, Main Street, and Commercial Drive. A provincial government spokesman said the Donnelly Group had not yet been issued any operating licences from the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

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Harrison Stoker, vice-president of brand and culture at the Donnelly Group, said the group used its expertise in “sourcing viable lease locations and navigating the regulatory framework around licensing” to secure an Ottawa location that was previously home to one of that city’s most popular dispensaries. Stoker said the Donnelly Group had received one of only five Eastern Ontario pot retail licences.

“With two decades of consumer hospitality experience and regulatory know-how, Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store felt very natural for Donnelly Group,” he said.

“While the venture may be new, our ethos remains the same,” said Jeff Donnelly, president at Donnelly Group. “Be true to yourself and your neighbourhood; the people will follow.”

In B.C., in order to open a cannabis retail store — which is allowed since cannabis was legalized in Canada in October, 2018 — the operator needs a municipal licence and, more importantly, a licence from the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

In its most recent statement, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch — which is responsible for stocking and supplying retail marijuana in B.C. — said it was continuing to roll out its network of B.C. Cannabis stores across the province.

The first store, operated by the liquor distribution branch, opened in Kamloops shortly after legalization. Since then, the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has issued 14 private licences across the province. There are still some illegal pot dispensaries in Vancouver, but not many, as the province’s new Community Safety Unit prepares to go after illegal ventures.

Stoker said the business would attempt to integrate the feel of each community that the pot retail outlet opens in. Hobo planned to hire 200 retail positions in the coming months.

The Donnelly Group operates pubs, cocktail taverns and barbershops in Vancouver and Toronto.

In Vancouver, the Donnelly Group operates pubs Blackbird, Lamplighter, Butcher & Bullock, Library Square, Cinema, New Oxford, Tavern, Three Brits, Railway Stage and Sing Sing, cocktail clubs Granville Room and Clough Club, five barbershops under Barber & Co, as well as restaurant, Royal Dinette. In Toronto it operates pubs Belfast Love, Death & Taxes, Walrus, Pong Bar, cocktail club Gift Shop, two barbershops under Barber & Co, and Lovejoy Cafe.

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