Operations

Dealboard: The latest acquisitions from Moët Hennessy, Henkel

Plus, check out the ecommerce software companies raising millions.

illustration of people shaking hands

(Illustration by The Current)

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, Walmart takes a stake in a tech partner, Moët Hennessy brings on a Napa Valley legend and a group of ecommerce software companies are reporting big funding rounds.

Take a look at this week’s activity:

Walmart takes a stake in Symbotic

Walmart partnered with Symbotic in 2021 to bring more automation to its warehouses, and in May expanded its use of the company’s technology to all 42 of its regional distribution centers in the coming years.

Now, the world’s largest retailer is an investor in the company. According to an SEC filing, Walmart owns 11.1% of Symbotic’s stock, per Retail Dive. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

This comes a few weeks after Symbotic made its public debut on the Nasdaq by merging with a SPAC that is affiliated with prominent investment firm Softbank.

Walmart has said Symbotics' technology plays a key role in its ongoing supply chain improvements. Specifically, Symbotic creates palletized loads of department-sorted inventory. This gets products onto shelves at its stores more quickly, and makes materials handling safer. It's part of a big upgrade to fulfillment and distribution center technology planned by Walmart in the coming years, as the company seeks to build out ecommerce operations to rival Amazon.

Moët Hennessy acquires Napa vineyard

LVMH-owned Moët Hennessy is adding a fine wine legend to its luxury offerings.

The wine and spirits division acquired the Napa Valley wine collection of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Known for the Bourdeaux-style blend Insignia, the winemaker was of the pioneers that made California a wine destination.

“Joseph Phelps has been to the Napa Valley what Nicolas Ruinart, Mrs. Clicquot, Joseph Krug and Claude Moët were to the Champagne region, and likewise we will continue to develop this new House in the respect of the founder’s heritage and vision,” said Philippe Schaus, chairman and chief executive officer of Moët Hennessy.

Henkel, Shiseido close on professional haircare acquisition

Henkel has completed the acquisition of the professional haircare business of Shiseido, the companies announced this week. This includes the brands Sublimic and Primience. With the deal, Shiseido will retain a 20% stake in the business.

Initially announced in February, the deal will help Henkel bolster its presence in Asia, the company said. Henkel also plans to set up a J-beauty innovation hub in Tokyo to develop new products for Asian consumers.

It adds to a portfolio that also includes hair color brand Schwarzkopf Professional, as well as Bonacure, Igora Royal and Authentic Beauty Concept. Henkel is planning to merge its beauty care and homecare divisions into a newly-created Henkel Consumer Brands unit next year.

Bodybuilding.com partners with Retail Commerce Ventures

DTC online fitness store Bodybuilding.com has a new partnership with digital marketing experts at Retail Ecommerce Ventures.

Founded in 1999, Bodybuilding.com specializes in dietary, sports, and bodybuilding supplements, offering private-label and third-party brands. It also has an app, and a loyalty community with over 15 million registered members.

For its part, Retail Commerce Ventures works with brands to build ecommerce capabilities, with a focus on helping legacy brands move from brick-and-mortar to digital storefronts. In the case of Bodybuilding.com, the goal is to expand its online presence. Founded by Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr, it has a portfolio that includes Pier 1, Radio Shack, Dressbarn, Ralph & Russo, Stein Mart, Franklin Mint, Modell's, MentorBox, FarmersCart, Linens 'n Things and more.

"This company's history is only in its first inning, and at a time when there's so much noise and confusion on the internet, Bodybuilding.com's trusted content, products, and community are more valuable than ever,” said Lopez of Bodybuilding.com, in a statement.

Shop Circle raises $65 million

UK-based ecommerce app operator Shop Circle launched out of stealth mode last week with financing of $65 million.

The funding was led by NFX and QED. Investors, with participation from 645 Ventures, FirstMinute Capital and Triple Point Capital. Global law firm Orrick participated in a strategic advisory capacity.

Founded by Luca Cartechini and Gian Maria Gramondi in 2021, the company created a “one-stop shop” for Shopify merchants to find the best apps for their needs, without having to search through the 7,500 apps available on the platform. It says it is behind six apps with 40,000 downloads by merchants. The company’s business model includes options for app entrepreneurs to sell to Shop Circle, or join the company’s team and work alongside its teams to grow.

“With the funding, we are able to rapidly increase our portfolio of apps and support more direct-to-consumer brands in building experiences their customers will love,” said Cartechini, the company’s CEO, in a statement.

Nautical Commerce raises $30 million

\u200bNautical Commerce executives

Nautical Commerce executives. (Courtesy photo)

Nautical Commerce, which helps brands, retailers and B2B businesses launch company-operated marketplaces, raised $30 million in a Series A round.

The funding was led by Drive Capital, with participation from existing investors Accomplice Ventures and Golden Ventures.

With leaders bringing experience from Apple, Visa, Top Hat and TouchBistro, Nautical offers a platform that allows companies to launch multi-vendor marketplaces in as little as 90 days.

With the funding, it is planning to add over 40 new team members this year.

“Ecommerce is becoming more distributed and single-vendor platforms were not built for this multi-vendor future. Ryan and his team built the only multi-vendor ecommerce platform and are serving a huge need in the market,” said Drive Capital’s Masha Khusid, in a statement. “We’re impressed by what Nautical has already accomplished and are proud to enable them to deliver on their mission to democratize marketplace technology.”

Y Combinator leads $6M seed round for Promoted

Promoted, which unifies search, feed, ads, and promotions for ecommerce marketplaces, raised $6 million in seed funding.

The round was led by Y Combinator, and included participation from Interlace Ventures, Vela Partners and angel investors including Michael Seibel, the managing director at Y Combinator.

Typically, teams at ecommerce marketplaces have separate teams for ads, merchandising, search, and recommendations. This leads the data to be siloed, as well. Promoted solves this by:

  • Measuring everything in its client’s app or marketplace.
  • Aggregating and joining the data in real-time with reporting.
  • Using AI to create a complete picture of the data to predict conversion and clicks for the client’s search and feed.
  • Creating a “‘unified currency’ for optimizing trade-offs between the optimal user experience in search and feed, seller experience using ads and promotions, and marketplace profitability versus growth.”

With the funding in hand, the company will continue to develop its streaming data infrastructure platform, and hire additional engineers.

“Promoted helps large marketplaces and ecommerce apps achieve profitability at scale and react in real-time to how ads, search, listings and promotions perform,” Seibel said. “Promoted’s tools optimize marketplaces -- leading to double digit conversion increases -- and are becoming an integral component of how marketplaces make money. We are excited to continue to work with the Promoted team, who have deep experience in adtech engineering."

​SleekFlow raises $8 million

The SleekFlow team

The SleekFlow team. (Courtesy photo)

Hong Kong-based Social commerce platform SleekFlow said it raised $8 million in a Series A funding round.

The funding was led by leading tech investor Tiger Global Partners, with participation from Transcend Capital and AEF Greater Bay Area Fund, managed by Gobi Partners GBA.

The company makes an omnichannel social commerce platform that enables the processes behind the selling of products directly through social media channels. This includes features such as a system that generates payment links in chats. It also integrates with 2,500 tools and messaging channels, and helps businesses track and retain potential sales leads from both online and offline channels.

Following the funding round, the company plans to grow in Southeast Asia, where it currently has a presence, and expand to the UK and Europe. It also plans to invest in product development, with a focus on areas such as one-click checkout.

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