William “Beau” Wrigley Jr., the scion of the all-American chewing gum fortune synonymous with the city of Chicago, will bring his cannabis company to Illinois.
Parallel, the Florida-based marijuana cultivator and retailer led by Wrigley as chairman and CEO, announced last week a deal to acquire six cannabis dispensaries in the Chicagoland area from Windy City Cannabis for $100 million.
The deal, which will comprise of $60 million in cash and $40 million in Parallel stock, with total potential consideration of up to $155 million, is still subject to regulatory approval. Once closed, Parallel will own four dispensaries in the Chicago suburbs and two, which are slated to open this month, elsewhere in Illinois.
“I have always hoped to get back into business in my native state and look forward to carving out our footprint in a way that not only provides well-being to customers but also supports the economy of the communities in which we will operate, through jobs and investments in our employees,” Wrigley said in a statement provided to Forbes.
The acquisition will bring Parallel’s footprint to six states. Parallel currently has 42 dispensaries, 39 in Florida and the rest in Massachusetts, Nevada and Texas. The company also has plans to open retail locations in Pennsylvania under its Goodblend brand.
Illinois has one of the country’s fastest-growing cannabis markets. In June 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law. In January 2020, Illinois opened its first recreational dispensaries. (The state had an existing small medical marijuana market.) After the first year of adult-use cannabis, legal medical and recreational pot sales hit $1 billion. According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, recreational sales topped $100 million in March, setting a state record.
James Whitcomb, Parallel’s chief development officer, says Illinois will become an important market for the company.
“Illinois is the hottest adult-use market out there,” says Whitcomb. “Any multi-state-operator in the U.S. that outperformed its projections this year did so almost solely because of Illinois…. The market has been going gangbusters.”
In February, Parallel announced that it will go public on a Canadian stock exchange after merging with Ceres Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, at a $1.8 billion valuation. The deal is expected to close this summer.
Once the transaction closes, Parallel will have $430 million in cash, which will help fund its expansion strategy. In an investor deck, Parallel says it plans to expand to a total of eight states and open a total of 86 dispensaries by end of 2022. Parallel has applied for licenses in New Jersey, where it wants to open one store, and Virginia, where it plans to open six shops. The company also applied for a license in Georgia.
Wrigley was born into one of America’s great business dynasties. His namesake great-grandfather, William Wrigley Jr., started William Wrigley Co. in 1891 as a manufacturer of soap but pivoted in 1893 to produce Wrigley’s chewing gum instead. The company was handed down through the generations, and Beau’s father ran it until the day he died, in 1999. Beau, who started working at the company over his summer break when he was 13, was 35 years old when he became CEO and chairman.
In 2008, Wrigley sold the family company by taking it private in a leveraged buyout to Mars, Inc. for $23 billion. Before getting into the cannabis industry, Wrigley ran his own venture and private equity firm, Wynchwood Asset Management.
Four years ago, Wrigley led a $65 million investment round in Surterra Wellness, a Florida-based cannabis retailer. Eventually, he took over as CEO and renamed the company Parallel. Wrigley believes his cannabis concern could one day rival his family’s chewing gum business.
“I think this can be bigger than the Wrigley company,” Wrigley told Forbes in February. “At Wrigley, we brought joy to people’s lives. This is much bigger than that.”