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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 ecommerce, CPG and retail.
This week, brands including Leesa Sleep, Bundle x Joy and Khaite raised funding for retail expansion. Plus, there’s new funding for self-serve Amazon advertising, digital fashion and automated ecommerce logistics.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
DressX raises $15 million for digital fashion
The round was led by Greenfield Capital, with participation from Slow Ventures, Warner Music Group, Red DAO and other investors.
DressX is a multi-brand retailer of digital fashion items that are used to outfit avatars in gaming, social media and the metaverse. The company will use the funding to make upgrades to its app and NFT marketplace, as well as grow its community and partner with other platforms.
“Fashion has always been a core part of someone‘s identity and a way to express yourself. As we spend more and more time in virtual environments, this will equally translate beyond the physical sphere and NFTs and blockchain technology will enable true digital ownership to elevate one’s identity,” said Jascha Samadi, founding partner at Greenfield, in a statement. “We are very excited to see how this space will evolve over the next 5-10 years and we believe DRESSX will be at the forefront of shaping and driving change."
Nimble Robotics raises $65M in Series B
Cedar Pine led the financing, with participation from existing investors including DNS Capital, GSR Ventures and Breyer Capital.
Led by a team of former Amazon executives, Nimble Robotics will put the funding toward building a network of autonomous 3PL fulfillment centers. The robotics-filled centers are designed to autonomously pick, pack and ship ecommerce orders. The company said it will be able to reduce warehouse size by 75%, and provide coverage of more than 96% of the U.S. population.
Petcare subscription Bundle x Joy gets Mars investment
Bundle x Joy, a petcare subscription company, raised $1 million in new seed funding, TechCrunch reported.
The funding round was led by Leap Venture Studio, with additional backing from Mars Petcare Companion Fund, R/GA Ventures, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Cloyes Ventures.
With the funding, the company plans to double its retail footprint from a current 450 stores. TechCrunch described the company’s digital customer acquisition model this way:
From a nutrition perspective, Bundle x Joy curates its boxes from 15 products and a proprietary “Pup Quiz” for customers to assess what products to offer and the personality of their dog. In fact, the company assigns fun personalities to each pet, including “Golden,” “Vibrant” and “Brave.”
In addition, the quiz enables the company to output the right bundle for the pet, including formulation, size and frequency of food and supplements, based on the specific needs of the pet.
Blank Street Coffee raises $20M
The round included participation from Left Lane Capital, HOF Capital, General Catalyst and Tiger Global.
After expanding to more than 40 locations, the company is exploring a subscription program that will provide beverages every two hours, as well as the addition of breakfast.
Tyson invests in carbon credits for livestock
Participants in the financing also included Elanco Animal Health Incorporate and Newtrient LLC.
This funding will help propel the company toward the launch of a transactional carbon credit inset platform. This is designed to provide financial incentive to livestock farmers who engage in sustainable practices. In particular, the program aggregates, validates and certifies greenhouse gas reductions, then monetizes them through the sale of carbon credits. The idea is that farmers can earn revenue to fund the implementation of more programs.
"Our vision is to be the platform that enables the livestock industry to meet its sustainability goals by empowering producers to implement on-farm practice changes that will move the needle on climate change,” said Athian CEO Paul Myer, in a statement.
Mayan raises $5 million for self-service Amazon advertising tool
Bright Pixel led the financing, which comes in addition to a $2 million seed round from Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, ESAS Ventures and Alarko Ventures.
With the financing, Mayan is planning to launch a self-service platform for Amazon advertising, as well as an analytics and forecasting suite. It will also begin work in areas of Amazon selling such as inventory and working capital.
Fashion brand Khaite earns Stripes investment
Khaite, a New York fashion brand, raised new funding from private equity firm Stripes. According to Vogue Business, the brand is planning to use the funding to fuel expansion in retail, with an aim of opening 10 stores in the next five years.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
DTC brand Leesa Sleep acquired
With the acquisition, Leesa will remain a standalone brand, joining Helix Sleep, Brooklyn Bedding, Birch, Bear Mattress and Nolah.
"Leesa is an exceptional company built on the pillars of delivering better sleep for customers and creating a positive impact in communities,” said 3Z CEO John Merwin, in a statement. “With its advanced design expertise and high-quality products, we're looking forward to supporting Leesa's continued growth with our best-in-class manufacturing expertise and digital capabilities. This addition marks our third acquisition within the last year, demonstrating 3Z's commitment to building a leading DTC platform that meets each customer's tailored sleeping needs.”
Kering Eyewear acquires manufacturer
Kering Eyewear acquired 100% of UNT, Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies, a French manufacturer of high-precision metal and mechanical components for the luxury eyewear sector.
It’s the latest move by Kering Eyewear to control its own supply chain. UNT is based in the Jura region, which is known historically as the focal point of the French eyewear industry.
"Being a long-term, high-quality supplier of Manufacture Kering Eyewear, this new acquisition represents the opportunity to create an integrated luxury eyewear platform with best-in-class manufacturing capabilities, facilities and talents, in addition to supporting and further elevating the Jura district,” said Kering Eyewear President and CEO Roberto Vedovotto.
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.”