Grofers in talks to raise up to $65 million from SoftBank and Tiger Global at 40% less valuation

Livemint, Bengaluru | ByShrutika Verma
Feb 21, 2018 02:50 PM IST

SoftBank and Tiger Global are likely to participate in the funding round but early investor Sequoia Capital may not.

Online grocery start-up Grofers is in talks to raise $60-65 million from existing investors in a funding round that could see the valuation of the Gurgaon-based start-up drop by over 40%, two people close to the development said.

Grofers, run by Grofers India Pvt. Ltd, last raised $120 million at a valuation of about $400 million in November 2015.(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Grofers, run by Grofers India Pvt. Ltd, last raised $120 million at a valuation of about $400 million in November 2015.(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

The round is being led by existing investor Japan’s Softbank Group with participation from Tiger Global Management, the people cited above said.

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Early investor Sequoia Capital is not likely to participate in the current round, said the two people on condition of anonymity.

Grofers, run by Grofers India Pvt. Ltd, last raised $120 million at a valuation of about $400 million in November 2015.

Softbank declined to comment. Grofers did not respond to Mint’s email queries.

If the funding round is finalized, it will dispel doubts about whether Grofers can survive, at least for the next year or so. Over the past year, Grofers has explored sale talks with bigger rival BigBasket as well as Paytm, a third person familiar with the matter said. Neither of the proposed deals materialised. On the business side, Grofers shut operations in several cities, changed its business model and put its focus on winning in NCR by investing in improving its supply chain and technology.

The proposed fundraising by Grofers will give the company much-needed capital to try and sustain its fledgling turnaround and avoid the fate that many of its rivals met over the past 18 months.

Despite an investment rush into hyperlocal start-ups in early 2015, many of these companies failed to expand significantly and prove that they could build sustainable businesses. Some such as PepperTap and GrocShop shut shop due to paucity of capital in a sector that offers wafer-thin margins.

Of late, the online grocery sector has become intensely competitive again with e-commerce firms such as Amazon and Flipkart expanding their grocery businesses. Big Basket, the largest e-grocer in the country, has also built a war chest to fight competition. Earlier this month, Big Basket (run by Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt. Ltd), raised $300 million from China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Grofers was founded by Albinder Dhindsa and Saurabh Kumar in 2013 and currently services 26 cities and delivers 15,000 orders daily. It has an average basket size of Rs 1,200-1,350. The company last year transitioned to an inventory-led model from a hyperlocal delivery start-up.

Last year, Mint reported that Grofers was expecting to touch monthly sales of Rs 80 crore by December 2017.

According to market researcher RedSeer Consulting Pvt. Ltd, the online grocery market was only $1 billion in 2017.

Mint reported in October that while the sector has been slow in witnessing sales growth, online grocery space is expected to be a key battleground for online retailers in the next three to five years.

While the sector suffers from poor margins, it does witness high order volumes and see repeat customers coming back to purchase weekly or monthly groceries.

According to market intelligence provider Kalagato, BigBasket held about 35% market share in online groceries, closely followed by Grofers and Amazon at 31.5% and 31.2%, respectively by March 2017.

It was in 2017 that the government allowed Amazon, Grofers and BigBasket, all majority foreign-owned firms, to invest in food retail in India—giving a go-ahead to FDI proposals cumulatively worth Rs3,750 crore.

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