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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, companies that are bringing new approaches to fashion in resale, recycling and web3 raised funds. Plus, Designer Brands and Pattern Brands are expanding their portfolios. Meanwhile, a BNPL acquisition was called off.
Check out the latest dealflow:
Designer Brands inks investment, licensing deal with Le TIGRE 360
With the deal, Le TIGRE will join Designer Brands’ portfolio of owned brands. It’s a group that also includes Vince Camuto, Reebok, Hush Puppies and Jessica Simpson. The agreement allows Designer Brands to design and produce exclusive Le TIGRE footwear, which will be sold through its retail channels, which include DSW and The Shoe Company.
Founded in 1977, Le TIGRE has since 2017 been owned and operated through a joint venture from Infinity Brands and Hilco Inc.
Infinity Brands CEO Ike S. Franco said in a statement that Designer Brands “will undoubtedly bring inspiring and unique designs to the marketplace, producing and delivering the highest quality products and engaging a large multi-generational audience that will expand the brand's footprint significantly.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Circ raises $30 million from Bill Gates, Inditex
Circular fashion company Circ raised over $30 million in a Series B round.
The investment round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the climate tech firm founded by Bill Gates. Additional investors included fashion retailer Inditex, textiles leader Milliken & Company and the investment groups Lansdowne Partners and Temasek. Existing investors also joined the round, including 8090 Partners, Alante Capital, Card Sound Capital, Circulate Capital, Envisioning Partners and Marubeni.
Circ developed a recycling system that separates and recovers raw materials of cotton and polyester from clothing. This allows the materials to be preserved, and in turn reduces carbon emissions created by the fashion industry, the company said.
"With this investment round, we've secured suppliers, purchasers, and major financial stakeholders to establish a much cleaner fashion future,” said Circ CEO Peter Majeranowski, in a statement. “We already have all the clothing we need to make all the clothing we'll ever need.”
With the funding, the company plans to complete engineering work for large-scale facilities, complete commercial launches and add team members in areas including engineering, R&D, management and business development.
Verishop raises $40 million for brand-focused solutions
The funding round was led by Lion Capital, with participation from existing investors.
Launched in 2018 by former Snapchat chief strategy officer Imran Khan and former Quidisi retail head Cate Khan, Verishop has over 4,000 brands on its marketplace Alongside shopping, it offers services for brands that enable them to reach consumers online. Verishop has also recently launched social networking tools, which are largely centered around video product reviews.
Pattern Brands raises $25 million, makes two acquisitions
(Photo via Pattern Brands)
Pattern Brands is adding to its portfolio of “home-life” brands.
The company announced a $25 million Series B. The funding round was led by new investors Toba Capital, Verlinvest, and BAM Elevate. Existing investors Primary, RRE Ventures, and Victory Park Capital, also participated.
The funding helped finance the acquisition of two businesses:
- Yield Design Co, a tabeltop and apothecary brand founded by Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming.
- Poketo, a a stationery and home goods brand founded by Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung.
Founded by the team behind New York branding agency Gin Lane, Pattern acquires brands, then offers shared infrastructure, operations and technology to help them grow. It now has six brands in its portfolio. The latest funding follows a $60 million round last year.
Syrup Tech raises $6.3 million for inventory planning software
Inventory-focused software company Syrup Tech raised a $6.3 million funding round.
The round was led by Gradient Ventures, which is the AI-focused venture fund of Google. The round also included participation from Flybridge Capital, Firstminute Capital, Rackhouse Ventures and 1984 Ventures, as well as angel investors who are former executives at Adidas, Bonobos, Salesforce, ASOS, ThredUp, Casper, Zalando, and Strip.
New York-based Syrup Tech makes software that uses AI to help brands and retailers forecast inventory. In particular, it provides recommendations for merchandisers and planners.
"Inventory planning is such a critical function that drives any brand or retailers' profitability and sustainability – and yet, it's managed by spreadsheets and bad legacy software," said James Theuerkauf, CEO and cofounder of Syrup, in a statement. "Syrup provides predictive software that delivers AI-driven recommendations on orders and allocations directly to merchandise planners, driving full-price sell-thru, more efficient workflows, and less waste."
Earlier this year, the company won a startup competition at SXSW in the enterprise and smart data category. The funding will help the company develop its product, as well as respond to new and existing demand from customers.
Milk Moovement raises $20 million for dairy supply chain transformation
Milk Moovement cofounders Rob Forsythe and Jon King. (Courtesy photo)
Dairy supply chain software company Milk Moovement said it closed a $20 million Series A round.
The round was led by retail and consumer-focused venture firm VMG Catalyst, with participation by seed investor and agricultural industry leader Richard Cargill.
Halifax, Canada-based Milk Moovement offers cloud-based software for dairy farmers and distributors. It provides tools such as shipment route tracking and delivery schedule optimization. Currently, the company has a network of 2,500 dairy farms and over 5,000 users. The new funding will help to accelerate product development and new customer adoption.
Robotic lash company LUUM raises funding from Ulta, investors
Lash extension robotics company LUUM Precision Lash announced that it closed a round of investment funding.
Participants included Ulta Beauty, Foundation Capital, Artifact Ventures, Ascendant Venture, Handshake Ventures, SaxeCap, and XSeed Capital.
Oakland-based LUUM said it is bringing robotics and AI to the eyelash extension services offered at salons, aiming to make them more efficient. The company said it is planning to launch with a top-five cosmetics retailer later this year.
“Our support for LUUM reinforces Ulta Beauty’s belief in the critical role advanced technologies such as robotics play in the future of beauty,” said Ulta Beauty Chief Digital Officer Prama Bhatt, in a statement. “Our teams are incredibly interested in exploring more technologies that amplify beauty experiences for our consumers and in funding LUUM, we believe we are supporting yet another exciting industry advancement.”
Draup raises $1.5 million for digital fashion marketplace
Draup raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding as it works to launch a digital fashion marketplace.
The marketplace is supported by Variant Fund, as well as industry experts in crypto including TCG Crypto, FLAMINGO DAO, NEON DAO, GMoney, Cozomo de’ Medici and Ashleigh Schapfashion, fashion leaders Ian Rogers and Trevor McFedries and consumer tech investors Andy Weissman, First Minute Capital and Amber Atherton.
Founder Dani Loftus previously created the content platform This Outfit Does Not Exist. Now, Loftus is working to launch a marketplace that makes web3 accessible for designers. This will be a platform that offers a place to buy digital fashion, showcase digital goods and make money from them.
Mayvenn raises $40 million Series C to bring tech to stylists
A Mayvenn lounge at Walmart. (Courtesy photo)
Beauty tech company Mayvenn raised $40 million in a Series C that will provide fuel to help it expand through an omnichannel partnership with Walmart.
The funding was led by Cleveland Ave, with participation from the growth equity business of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and prominent venture firm a16z.
Founded in 2013 by Diishan Imira, Mayvenn provides technology to professional stylists, and has an ecommerce platform that offers salon services through a network of beauty professionals.
The company is looking to grow following a partnership with Walmart that put its lounges inside five of the retailer’s stores in Texas. These spaces offer shopping for hair extensions and wigs, as well as virtual booking with stylists. The company plans to expand to 400 Walmart stores.
"Mayvenn aims to deliver a first-class beauty experience for women by partnering with stylists and delivering unprecedented economics to these important entrepreneurs," said Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a statement. "The Walmart relationship moves the transaction from the virtual to the physical world and dramatically expands Mayvenn's reach. We believe they are now poised to become a top brand in women's beauty."
Galaxy raises $7 million from Snap Inc., investors
The round included participation from Snapchat parent Snap Inc., software company Homebrew and VC firms Floodgate and Banana Capital.
With a nod toward live shopping that is popular in China, Galaxy allows merchants to create videos showcasing their resale products. Sellers can either go live, or upload pre-recorded snippets. It’s a sign of how shopping and entertainment are blending.
Founders Danny Quick, Nathan McCartney and Brandon Briston will use the new funding to develop machine learning capabilities, and work to attract more sellers.
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
Zip calls off Sezzle acquisition
Originally announced in February, the acquisition signaled consolidation in the Buy Now Pay Later space. Now, the short-term loan industry is facing further pressure amid signs of a financial downturn, as well as potential regulatory scrutiny. BNPL firm Klarna last week raised new funding at a valuation that was 85% lower than the prior year.
“We believe that mutually terminating the merger agreement with Sezzle at this time is in the best interests of Zip and its shareholders, and will allow Zip to focus on its strategy and core business in the current environment,” said Diane Smith-Gander, chair of the Zip Board, in a statement.
Accenture acquires The Stable
Professional services company Accenture plans to bolster ecommerce offerings through the acquisition of The Stable, a Minneapolis-based agency that helps brands build and operate their own commerce channels, as well as manage brand and sales performance across retailers.
Bringing a team of more than 400 people, The Stable’s capabilities will be integrated into Accenture Song.
“Today, every company is a commerce company. The B2B and B2C companies that fast-track their commerce transformation across the customers’ entire life journey will grow well into the future,” said Glen Hartman, Accenture Song’s global lead for commerce services, in a statement. “By embedding The Stable’s set of talent and capabilities into Accenture Song’s, we will continue to help our clients meet customers where they are, on their terms and reimagine buying and selling experiences."
It’s one in a series of global acquisitions focused on commerce that Accenture made in recent months. Others include Japan-based Businet System and Tambourine, Italy-based Openmind , Argentina-based Glamit and Brazil-based Experity.
WPP acquires LatAm ecommerce agency CoreBiz
Communications agency WPP is continuing its ecommerce expansion through an acquisition in Latin America.
WPP said it acquired Brazil-based Corebiz, a 600-member agency that specializes in implementation of the ecommerce marketplace VTEX with a focus on acquisition, conversion and loyalty. The agency counts Whirlpool, Casino Group, Walmart, Carrefour, Decathlon and Estée Lauder among its clients.
The São Paulo and Franca-headquartered team will join the VMLY&R COMMERCE network, which plans to expand with additional outposts this year.
“Over the last few years, we have actively participated in the acceleration of the ecommerce market in Latin America. Now, our goal is to take this expertise to the rest of the world," Felipe Macedo and Renan Mota, cofounders and co-CEOs of Corebiz, said in a statement.
This builds on WPP's ecommerce expansion earlier this year, which saw the launch of end-to-end commerce solution Everymile. Led by former Google Cloud retail and consumer leader Mark Steel, the offering includes a proprietary technology platform combining brand experience and data. It aims to allow brands to build their own direct-to-consumer offering.
Trending in Retail Channels
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”