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Cannabis retail training monopoly a ‘monumental’ win for Lift & Co., says CEO

An employee arranges products from cannabis brand Tweed at the Thomas H. Clarke Distribution retail store as Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Lift & Co. Corp. (LIFT.Vhas inked an exclusive multi-year deal with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to train “budtenders,” managers and license-holders on the frontline of retail sales in the province.

The Toronto-based company’s CannSell program is the only approved cannabis retail training program in Ontario. All employees, as well as store authorization and retail manager license holders must be certified. The $50, four-hour, self-guided online training teaches responsible sales practices, as well as legal and regulatory obligations.

The curriculum was developed with MADD Canada. The course will be offered as of Feb. 25, allowing ample time for pupils to graduate for the scheduled debut of brick-and-mortar retail in Ontario on April 1.

Chief executive officer Matei Olaru called the deal “monumental” for Lift & Co. shareholders, given the opportunity to monetize troves of data and explore new marketing opportunities in Canada’s largest province.

“We estimate over the next three years Ontario will sell approximately $3.3 billion of cannabis. We will have direct influence over every one of those dollars that comes from retail,” Olaru told analysts on Thursday afternoon conference call. “The value of exclusive access for the largest space of cannabis retail employees extends beyond direct certification.”

A big part of that value is building brand awareness face-to-face with customers, Olaru said, pointing to data from the Brightfield Group showing 91 per cent of U.S. consumers strongly consider what staff have to say when making a cannabis purchase.

Lift & Co. creates and markets brand-specific interactive products, allowing licensed producers to pay to coach CanSell-certified staff about their product lines. The training modules are 15 minutes long, with a test at the end.

“These additional modules will generate revenue for Lift & Co. in two ways: an upfront creation fee and a variable pay-per-view fee, which we will charge per unique module used by a CanSell certificate holder,” Olaru said. “On day one of retail sales in Ontario, and for every day thereafter for multiple years, we will be able to offer brands in the space 100 per cent penetration into Ontario retail budtenders and retail managers.”

Lift & Co. expects to certify a workforce upwards of 13,000 by 2022, a figure that assumes 15 license-holders per store. That sort of reach will help Lift & Co. gather insight on cannabis similar to how Nielsen Holdings Inc. (NLSNanalyzes what consumers watch, listen to and buy, Olaru said.

“This announcement materially accelerates our data monetization strategy when compared to the competition,” he added. “This is a monumental achievement for shareholders of Lift & Co.”

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