The Current, delivered daily.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in the ecommerce and consumer goods landscape.
This week, cross-border commerce companies team up, eBay acquires an NFT marketplace and a pair of automotive ecommerce platforms raise new funds.
Check out the details:
Global-e acquires Borderfree from Pitney Bowes
Cross-border commerce is in focus with one of the most-talked-about acquisitions of the week.
Global-e, which enables direct-to-consumer ecommerce internationally, is acquiring Borderfree from shipping company Pitney Bowes for $100 million in cash, the companies announced.
Borderfree helps retailers localize a website to a specific country as they expand, offering this service for more than 200 countries. Now, that service will be extended to Global-e customers, while Borderfree clients will gain access to Global-e's data models and algorithms, among other offerings.
With the deal, Pitney Bowes will provide ecommerce logistics services to Global-e and its clients.
eBay acquires NFT marketplace KnownOrigin
Ecommerce platform eBay acquired KnownOrigin, a platform that provides artists with a place to create nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that serve as digital collectibles.
Founded in 2018 in Manchester, UK, KnownOrigin enables artists and collectors to buy and resell NFTs. eBay said this addition is part of a “tech-led reimagination” of the 23-year-old marketplace. It started allowing buying and selling of NFTs in 2021.
"eBay is the first stop for people across the globe who are searching for that perfect, hard-to-find, or unique addition to their collection and, with this acquisition, we will remain a leading site as our community is increasingly adding digital collectibles," said Jamie Iannone, CEO of eBay, in a statement. "KnownOrigin has built up an impressive, passionate and loyal group of artists and collectors making them a perfect addition to our community of sellers and buyers.”
Ocado Group raises £875m
London-based grocery tech company Ocado Group raised a total of £875M in new funding, which translates to a dollar value of about $1.1 billion. This included a £578m equity placement and a new £300m revolving credit facility.
The company owns a 50% stake in online grocery platform Ocado.com. It also offers fulfillment technology to grocers such as Kroger.
With the funding, it plans to make good on plans to build 50 customer fulfillment centers to 11 grocers around the world.
Miracle Miles Group raises $100 million Series A
Miracle Miles Group, a footwear tech company that also operates consumer brands, raised $100 million in a Series A funding round.
Led by DG Capital and Sequoia Capital China, the funding round will help the company expand globally.
"This round of funding has been closed despite a particularly challenging and turbulent capital market, which shows the confidence of world-class investors in the strength of our business," said Founder Brian Cao, in a statement. "To prepare for global expansion, the company is developing an intelligent cloud platform to analyze the industry's big data. Establishing highly-efficient digital management systems enhances the entire product life cycle from product design and development to end-consumer business."
Additionally, LA-based Miracle Miles operates three brands: Women’s footwear brand Dream Pairs, outdoor recreation line Nortiv8 and menswear brand Bruno Marc.
Carparts.com secures $75M credit facility
Carparts.com, an ecommerce platform for auto parts and accessories, said it increased an existing credit facility with JPMorgan Chase Bank to $75 million.
This comes after the Torrance, California-based company said it posted record first quarter revenue of $166 million, which was up 80% on a two-year stack.
"This credit facility gives us a non-dilutive source of capital that will allow us to focus on financially disciplined growth and we are optimistic about our ability to succeed regardless of the economic environment," said CEO David Meniane, in a statement.
Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin sells stake in Sixers, Devils
Michael Rubin, the CEO of online sportswear retailer Fanatics, is selling his stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Rubin, who owns a 10% equity stake in the company per ESPN, cited growth at Fanatics as the reason he is departing the minority ownership role. He released a statement that said the following in part:
“As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the obstacles I have to navigate to ensure our new businesses don’t conflict with my responsibilities as part-owner of the Sixers. With the launch of our trading cards and collectibles business earlier this year — which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally — and a soon-to-launch sports betting operation, these new businesses will directly conflict with the ownership rules of sports leagues. Given these realities, I will sadly be selling my stake in the Sixers and shifting from part-owner back to life-long fan.”
Frasers Group ups stake in Hugo Boss
The London-based retail and fashion house Frasers Group now owns a 4.9% stake in Hugo Boss after increasing its holding in the luxury brand.
The company’s stake is now worth 900 million euros, according to a regulatory filing.
“This investment reflects Frasers Group's belief in the Hugo Boss brand, strategy and management team,” the company wrote. “Frasers Group continues to intend to be a supportive stakeholder and create value in the interests of both Frasers Group's and Hugo Boss' shareholders.”
Autozen raises $5M
Car-buying marketplace Autozen raised $5 million in a seed round.
The funding for the Vancouver, Canada-based company was led by Vanedge Capital, with participation from Anges Québec, several super-angels and the company’s existing investors.
Autozen operates a consumer-to-business model, in which cars are sold to professional buyers.
Following the funding round, the company plans to expand to Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. It is also launching a US presence, starting with Seattle.
Chinova Bioworks raises $6M for clean-label ingredients
Food tech company Chinova Bioworks raised $6 million in a Series A investment.
The round was co-led by DSM Venturing and Rhapsody Venture Partners, with Rich Products Ventures also participating.
The New Brunswick, Canada-based company developed a clean-label preservative that is created from the stems of white button mushrooms that would otherwise be discarded. Called Chiber, it is vegan, kosher, Halal, and allergen-free.
Going forward, the company plans to grow its team, launch new products and expand production capacity at a facility on Prince Edward Island that is set to open later this summer.
"Chinova has been crushing it for more than five years. It’s been amazing to see how quickly Chinova has been able to add customers, making investing a no-brainer,” said Bernard Lupien, general partner at Rhapsody Venture Partners, in a statement. “Furthermore, Chinova’s planet-friendly process of upcycling the otherwise discarded stems of white button mushrooms to create Chiber is precisely what consumers are asking for.”
Trending in Retail Channels
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.