New Delhi: US online retail giant Amazon and Samara Capital have jointly invested in Witzig Advisory Services Pvt Ltd (WASPL), the entity that has recently announced the acquisition of Aditya Birla Retail’s ‘more’ chain of stores in India. “Amazon and Samara Capital have agreed to co-invest in a facilities support and management and value added services company called WASPL…Both Samara and Amazon see significant growth potential in the area of facilities support and management and valued added services in the coming years,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement late Thursday evening.
As per a regulatory filing earlier this week, RKN Retail – along with Kanishtha Finance and Investment Pvt Ltd and Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL) – had entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) with Witzig to sell their combined stake of around 99.99 per cent in ABRL. While the companies did not disclose the deal size, reports pegged the transaction at about Rs 4,200 crore.
Though the Amazon statement did not comment on the financial details of the transaction or details of the entity that has invested in WASPL, presence in ‘more’ will help Amazon strengthen its play in the offline retail in India, particularly in the grocery segment that accounts for a significant part of the segment. The move would also intensify competition further between Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart that are locked in an intense battle for leadership in the Indian e-commerce market. US’ largest retailer Walmart had picked up 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for USD 16 billion, the largest deal in the Indian e-commerce space so far.
Both Amazon and Flipkart are pumping in millions of dollars towards building infrastructure, and expanding operations in the country. The spokesperson said the American firm was looking to “enhance its services portfolio and invest in and create opportunities for skill development and job creation” with its investment in WASPL. WASPL focuses on skill development and vocational training, and contributes toward employment generation with respect to facilities support and management and other value added services such as installation, housekeeping, engineering support, electrical technicians, service staff and plumbing technicians for business customers, the spokesperson said.
‘More’ — which is the fourth largest supermarket chain in the country after Future Group, Reliance Retail and D-Mart — operates 523 supermarkets across the country and some in-house labels as – VOW, Kitchen’s Promise and Feasters. BRL had ventured into food and grocery retail sectors in 2007 with the acquisition of Trinethra Super Retail and subsequently expanded its presence across the country.
Interestingly, retail major Shoppers Stop had announced raising Rs 179.26 crore from Amazon last year through issue of equity shares on preferential basis. The deal with Amazon.com Investment Holdings LLC translated into just over 5 per cent shareholding for Amazon in Shoppers Stop.