Aegis Brands unveils its first retail cannabis location

A former Second Cup store in midtown Toronto has transitioned from beans to buds as parent company Aegis Brands formally unveiled its new cannabis retail strategy on Friday.

The new Hemisphere Cannabis Co. is the first of seven cannabis stores Aegis Brands plans to open in Ontario before the end of the year. The company promises that “It’s like going to the grocery store, just a whole lot better.”

Hemisphere joins The Second Cup and Bridgehead Coffee (an Ottawa-based chain of 19 stores that was acquired by Aegis for $9.5 million last year) in the company’s brand portfolio.

“With Hemisphere, we’ve created an environment that’s entirely focused on matching customers with the right product for their desired experience—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,” said Aegis Brands CEO Steven Pelton in a release.

The brand is built around the premium concept, with the name Hemispheres inspired by the concept of navigation. “Both the brand and the specific in-store experience are built around the idea of offering way-finding for Canadian in their cannabis purchase journey,” said the company.

Aegis plans to convert an undisclosed number of its 244 Second Cup locations across the country into Hemispheres as the chain faces increased pressure from larger rivals like Tim Hortons and Starbucks.

“We created Aegis with the vision of building a portfolio of amazing brands that can grow and flourish by leveraging the expertise that we’ve developed over 40 years in the Canadian retail and foodservice industry,” said Pelton.

“Given our unparalleled access to top-tier real estate assets across the country, and the incredible shared services that Hemisphere will be able to tap into as part of the Aegis network, we truly believe the potential for this brand is limitless.”

Aegis has not disclosed any marketing plans for the Hemispheres brand, but a new study from Chicago-based Brightfield Group suggests it faces an uphill battle in building brand recognition.

The study of more than 3,000 cannabis users found that none of Canada’s leading cannabis brands has achieved greater than 41% awareness, with the vast majority having awareness between 1% and 15%.








Chris Powell