Shops selling cannabis extract cannabidiol look set to become a feature of high streets across the UK under plans for the first nationwide chain of its kind.
Speaking to PA, Geremy Thomas – founder of stock market-listed medicinal cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) group Sativa – has revealed ambitious aims to launch around 100 Goodbody Wellness shops across the UK within two years.
Mr Thomas opened the first under the brand in Bath at the end of June and has already added one more in Cirencester with another due to open imminently in Bristol as he seeks to tap into a market for CBD products estimated to be worth nearly £1 billion by 2025.
He said it marks the start of a “major high street journey” for Goodbody Wellness as CBD products take the UK by storm.
He said: “I feel very confident that you will see this as a feature of the high street.”
CBD is believed to boost the body’s so-called endocannabinoid system, which works to restore balance.
Although it is derived from cannabis, it does not contain any of the psychoactive constituent, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The launch of Sativa’s fledgling chain looks set to create around 400 retail jobs in the first two years, with all employees receiving training on CBD and products.
The group hired former Phones 4U executive Chris Jones as managing director to lead the Goodbody Wellness push.
Sativa’s plans for the CBD shops mark a welcome dose of good news for the high street at a time of retrenchment elsewhere in retail, given the pressures of rising costs and online competition.
Mr Thomas shrugged off the woes being felt elsewhere in retail and said it will soon become a “national brand”, complementing the likes of health retailer Holland & Barrett by offering a range of specialist products with trained staff.
Each store will also have a barista on site offering CBD-infused coffee and tea, while stocking CBD products ranging from bath bombs and vape oils to skincare and balms.
It will stock products from other CBD firms, as well as from its own manufacturing arm George Botanicals, which has been selling online and through wholesalers and retailers since December 2017.
Sativa is securing a licence to grow medicinal cannabis in Somerset but only for a research project with King’s College London at this stage.
Mr Thomas said he does not plan to grow cannabis more widely for use in CBD products at this stage, instead buying on the spot market and testing thoroughly in its own laboratory, PhytoVista.
Sativa listed on London’s NEX Exchange in March 2018 as the UK’s first medicinal cannabis investment vehicle.
While Mr Thomas said the UK government has been slow to recognise the benefits of medicinal cannabis, he sees this as the “main prize” for the future and is hopeful Britain will follow the lead of pioneers such as Canada, where it is legal both for recreational and medicinal use.
He said: “The UK is about five or six years behind our friends in North America, but I’m confident we can catch up here.”