Cannabis retailer Tokyo Smoke is moving in the shopping centre retail space.
In an interview with Retail Insider, Dave Bolan, VP, Real Estate, Tokyo Smoke and Ontario Brand License Holder, said the retailer’s enclosed mall strategy forms part of its larger new store development plan.
“Initially, the enclosed mall strategic pillar includes opening nine Tokyo Smoke stores in Ontario by the end of the year. Tokyo Smoke’s next wave of store openings will commence in early October and includes the following Cadillac Fairview properties: CF Eaton Centre, Toronto; CF Fairview Mall, Toronto ; CF Sherway Gardens, Toronto; CF Rideau Centre, Ottawa,” he said. “There were a few key factors that led to our decision to partner with Cadillac Fairview, First, our senior management has a long-standing relationship with CF, specifically through our parent companies’ restaurant business unit. Secondly and more importantly, CF’s robust portfolio in Ontario allows Tokyo Smoke, our award-winning brand with access to millions of shoppers and office population visits yearly, making a long-term in-property partnership an easy and strategic decision for the business.
“Both in-property and street front locations are important to our company, and we have both in our portfolio. Large-scale shopping centre’s present a unique opportunity for the brand to extend its reach to a larger demographic of consumers. Having a strong presence in Cadillac Fairview shopping centres will allow Tokyo Smoke the opportunity to penetrate a diverse mix of legal shoppers and employees, seven days a week. We’re thrilled to be able to play a role in how Canadians continue to learn about cannabis and to provide access to Tokyo Smoke’s carefully curated accessories and products, along with the brand’s best-in-class guest experience, which will be housed in convenient shopping centre locations.”
The Tokyo Smoke retail banner is under the Canopy Growth Corporation banner.
Bolan said the company’s first enclosed Tokyo Smoke store recently opened in the newly redeveloped Devonshire Mall in Windsor, Ontario.
“The location provides guests with the convenience of visiting a wide array of shops and services and now cannabis, all under one premiere location. The store is conveniently located at the Shoppers Drug Mart mall entrance. A key site characteristic of the store at Devonshire is its interior exterior access which is an important feature for suburban centres,” he said, adding that the retailer is seeking partnerships with other shopping centre owners to establish retail stores in their properties.
“We have started executing our multi-year new store growth plan which includes opening in shopping centres (enclosed, strip, power, or regional) with large and small ownership groups. Our focus on opening Tokyo Smoke stores within a multitude of shopping centres is a key strategic growth pillar for the business.”
Bolan said the focus continues to be on Ontario and will remain this way for the foreseeable future.
The first cannabis retailer to open in a major enclosed shopping centre in Canada was Aurora which opened a 11,000 square foot retail space and experience centre in 2019 at West Edmonton Mall.
“As cannabis consumption has become mainstream in society and with the natural churn of retailers coming and going the time is right,” he said.
“Not unlike a customer picking up a bottle of wine or spirits while shopping, cannabis as a category has earned its position as a staple in malls. Certainly, malls need fresh tenants too that can draw in weekly traffic to displace bankrupt retailers. As Tokyo Smoke is owned by Canopy Growth, which in turn is owned (in part) by Constellation Brands, this chain offers some stability as well.
“The challenge with all cannabis retailers is differentiation as store counts climb to saturation levels. This move helps Tokyo Smoke do that to some degree as they associate their brand with marquee shopping locations.”