Reliance’s startup acquisitions thus far have centered around tech — it had previously acquired chatbot company Haptik, and Hyderabad-based startup NowFloats. It now seems to be setting its eyes on retail firms.
Reliance has acquired a 15% stake in lingerie retailer Zivame. Reliance Brands bought the 15% stake from Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures. ET reported that Reliance was in talks with other partners to take full control of the firm. Reliance will reportedly value Zivame at around Rs. 1200 crore. Zodius is the largest shareholder in Zivame with about 60% stake, and Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional Bhd owns about 25%.
Zivame was founded in 2011 by BITS Pilani graduate Richa Kar. It had started off selling lingerie online, and had quickly built a loyal userbase. Zivame had begun expanding into offline stores too, and had opened 35 stores across India. Zivame had registered revenue of Rs. 140 crore in FY19. The startup had raised Rs. around Rs. 525 crore over the last 9 years from companies like Chiratae Ventures, Trifecta Capital and Zodius Capital.
Zivame isn’t Reliance Brands’ first foray into the clothing segment — it already sells premium labels in India including Jimmy Choo, Tiffany, Diesel and Mothercare. If Reliance Brands does end up acquiring the company, it’ll give the company a strong product in the women’s segment, and also access to Zivame’s 35 stores. This could tie in well with JioMart’s ambitions — JioMart is currently selling only groceries and daily essentials, but will almost certainly diversify into other product segments in the coming years. Fashion is a big play in India’s e-commerce space, and owning a prominent online-first lingerie company could be a good addition to JioMart’s portfolio. Other e-commerce companies have also been investing in fashion companies — Flipkart recently bought a majority stake in Flying Machine from Arvind, and Amazon has a 5% stake in Shoppers Stop. India’s e-commerce space is heating up, and players seem to be picking up retail players to build their arsenals.