Fresh Support for O2O Grocery Benlai from Backer SF Express
Benlai.com’s success in the otherwise unstable online/offline grocery market is underpinned by a USD 200 million investment. The biggest actor in this round of funding is China’s second largest delivery service company, SF Express.
According to Sinanet, Benlai.com (本来生活), an online-offline fresh grocery company in China, completed a Series D1 round of financing with USD 200 million on October 8, 2019.
With the decline of venture capital investment in 2019, plus the wilting nature of the fresh grocery market in China (investors and customers drying up, startups closing down) the fundraising of Benlai is quite eye-catching. Investors include a state-backed company, Beishang Capital, along with previous investors CDH Investments and Gaorong Capital. The only little-known name is actually the leading investor of this round – Mingde Holding.
Based on Mingde’s business registration information, the company is 99.9% owned by the founder of SF Express, Wang Wei. Mingde holds 61.2% shares of the listed company SF Express Co., Ltd. (002352: SZSE). That is to say, SF Express, the second largest courier in China, is actually the leading investor behind this deal.
After seven years of development, Benlai has smartly chosen its investors and built a multi-sourced cooperation system.
One of its returning investors, CDH Investments, maintains very deep connections with leading beef and pork suppliers, such as Smithfield Food (the world’s largest pork supplier), WH Group (largest pork producer in the world and the largest meat producer in China), Foresun Group etc. These resources in the supply chain will generate a synergistic effect with Benlai’s B2C online platform and its brick-and-mortar community stores, not only providing consumers with quality goods with variety, but also giving a better offline experience.
Another investor, Ting Hsin International Group of the Series B funding round, is a family foundation. One of its most successful businesses is the convenience store Family Mart in China. With rich experience in retail operations, Ting Hsin will assist Benlai to cement its community-based business in its brick-and-mortar stores.
Series C+ investor CURA, the company co-sponsored by major real estate players Vanke, Vantone, Gemdale and the likes, has empowered Benlai’s offline expansion by giving site selection advice and location resource support.
Moreover, Gaorong Capital and China Equity Group are also VC leaders with many successful investment cases.
The strategic alliance formed by Benlai’s five rounds of financing has no doubt enlightened its counterparties in how to choose investors wisely.
SF Express, the new supporter in Series D1, will give Benlai sound support in logistics and supply chain, which is the most needed area for O2O fresh grocery players.
On the other hand, SF Express has also formed an integrated logistics platform and has its own ecological delivery circle, including express, airlines, airports, express, cold chain logistics, high-speed rail express, etc. The cooperation with the fresh grocery company will further test its delivery capabilities in the one of the most complex and demanding areas.