Dispensary 33 selling pot stores to listed weed giant in $ 55million deal

A Florida-based pot giant is planning to buy a pair from popular Chicago herb stores under a successful $ 55 million deal, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday.

The two stores at Dispensary 33 in Uptown and West Town are sold to Miami-based Ayr Wellness, which grows and sells cannabis in several states and trades publicly on the Canadian Stock Exchange and the US penny stock market. A public announcement was expected Monday morning.

The terms of the deal include $ 40 million in shares, $ 12 million in cash and $ 3 million in cash certificates, according to a source close to Ayr. The move comes four months after Ayr announced plans to expand into Illinois with the $ 30 million acquisition of two herbal dispensaries in upstate Quincy.

As with that deal, Ayr needs regulatory approval to take over the Chicago stores.

Bryan Zises, co-owner of Dispensary 33, boasted of being the city’s last independent pottery store operator after a wave of business consolidation swept through Illinois’ booming cannabis industry when the drug has been fully legalized.

In an interview on Sunday, Zises said Dispensary 33 previously turned down offers from a dozen multi-state cannabis companies before deciding to sell to Ayr, whom he hired for his financial acumen and to focus. on cultivating both talent and high quality cannabis.

“This offer that we accepted was not the highest price, but it best matched what we believe to be in the best interests of the people who work for us and for the city as a whole,” Zises said. . “We didn’t think we’d find a suitable partner for us, so we were ready to go it alone for as long as needed. But he was really a partner who made us feel comfortable with their approach and what they want to do.

Dispensary 33’s first store, located at 5001 N. Clark St., opened in December 2015 as Chicago’s first medical cannabis dispensary. It also made the first sale of recreational cannabis last January, marking the end of the state’s ban on pot.

In addition to allowing medical dispensaries to also sell weed for recreational use, the Legalization Act gave existing operators the ability to obtain additional licenses for sales for adult use. Dispensary 33’s second store at 1152 W. Randolph St. opened in May.

While Zises noted that he and his management team plan to continue running the stores for six months after the deal closes, he said his staff will not be affected by the change in ownership and will get hopefully “more responsibilities” within Ayr’s broad corporate structure. .

“One of the concerns we’ve had is that there are limited opportunities if we’re just a mom-and-pop store for great people to grow up,” he said. “Now that there is a bigger company that has multiple states and is growing so fast and doing so well, I actually think it’s going to have a really good impact on our people. “

The source close to Ayr later told the Sun-Times that “talent acquisition is huge.”

“When we’re looking to acquire businesses, we don’t just look at it in terms of assets and numbers and things like that,” the source said. “People and talent are really, really important to us. We want to work with companies that have values ​​similar to ours.

While the two teams were complementary on Sunday, they will probably soon be in competition.

Zises acknowledged that he was also a minority owner of Green & Bransford LLC, a group that has won five dispensary licenses in three recent lotteries. While the licenses have yet to be issued due to a court order, they are all designated for an area that covers Chicago.

The majority owners are people of color and military veterans who qualify as candidates for social equity, Zises said, adding that he and other leaders at Dispensary 33 have also helped eight other winning groups find partners and to write their applications.

He said he now hopes to use the influx of money from the pending deal to continue supporting new players.

“I’m going to have access to more resources to help the social equity groups we’ve helped incubate move forward in the direction they want,” he said.


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