Exclusive: Grab picks up stake in grocery delivery partner HappyFresh

Photo: HappyFresh

Grab has picked up a minority stake in grocery delivery startup HappyFresh as part of their recently announced partnership, this portal has learnt.

Earlier this month, Singapore-headquartered Grab announced that it was foraying into grocery delivery as part of its ambition to become a one-stop super app for users in Southeast Asia. Its grocery delivery service, dubbed GrabFresh, was launched in partnership with HappyFresh and was slated for a beta launch in Jakarta this month, with launches in Thailand and Malaysia expected by year-end.

No financial terms of the partnership were made available at the time.

The stake picked up in HappyFresh is “less than 10 per cent”, said an executive familiar with the negotiations. Another executive said that the minority stake purchase could lead to a full acquisition at a later point.

“HappyFresh is a key partner that’s part of our Grab Platform initiative… As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on acquisition or investment rumours,” Grab said in an emailed response to queries from this portal.

Groceries account for the largest category of household expenditure in Southeast Asia, Grab had pointed out at the time of announcing its foray. According to DBS, the total value of the modern grocery retail market in Southeast Asia excluding Singapore is about $217.7 billion.

With the launch of the grocery delivery service, Grab was expanding its range of services a la what its archrival Go-Jek already does. Go-Jek offers Go-Mart, a grocery delivery service that claims to deliver within an hour. The service is currently available only in its home market, Indonesia.

HappyFresh, of course, claims it is different and cites its partnership with over 50 large supermarket chains and specialty grocery chains and a team of trained personal shoppers and delivery employees. It makes money through the delivery fee it charges its customers and through fees it takes from retail partners. Additionally, HappyFresh runs an analytics and data business through its HappyData platform on which retailers can also promote their products and services.

However, the grocery delivery market remains a tough one to crack. Ask HappyFresh. In 2016, it had to pull out of two markets – Taiwan and the Philippines – to focus on sustainability.

It is the not the only one struggling. In its report last year, DBS pointed out that Singapore’s largest online player RedMart, which started four years ago, is yet to turn in a core profit.

“The online business model, in our view, is still trying to find the right balance between gaining market share and becoming profitable,” it noted.

Grab has in the past acquired Indonesia’s online-to-offline (O2O) platform Kudo and Bengaluru-based payments startup iKaaz.

Also Read:

Grab launches grocery delivery service, to cross $1b in revenues this year 

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.