Baby products e-tailer FirstCry enters education biz, acquires Oi Playschool

BrainBees Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which operates online-first baby products retailer FirstCry, has ventured into the pre-primary education segment by acquiring Oi Playschool for an undisclosed sum of money, it said on Wednesday.

Pune-based FirstCry acquired Oi Playschool, a part of the People Combine Group, through Edubees Education.

Naga Prasad Tummula, chairman at People Combine Group, said Oi’s students and employees would benefit because of Firstcry’s long-term vision for the pre-primary business.

“We are very happy with the accomplishments Oi Play School achieved over the years. It was a pleasure to work with the company’s management team,” FirstCry chief executive officer Supam Maheshwari added.

Hyderabad-based LoEstro Advisors acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Oi Play Schools on the transaction.

Oi Playschool, which was founded in 2010, currently has a presence in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The institution says it focusses on child safety, after-school programmes, security and hygiene, active learning and positive environments. Its educational programmes range from toddlers and nursery students to pre-preparatory classes, according to its website.

FirstCry was founded in 2010 by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha. The venture is the most heavily funded baby products e-tailer in India. SoftBank, IDG Ventures, Valiant Capital Partners, New Enterprise Associates and SAIF Partners are among its investors.

The company claims to offer more than two lakh baby and kids products across categories that include diapering, feeding and nursing, skin and health care, toys, clothes, footwear, and fashion accessories among others.

In 2015, Mahindra Group, which ran the country's top offline baby products chain Mom & Me, bought FirstCry's key rival BabyOye. A year later, Mahindra merged BabyOye with FirstCry to create the top player in the vertical.

In January this year, the company raised $149.36 million (Rs 1,096.94 crore) as part of the first tranche of a new funding round from Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, according to filings with the Registrar of Companies.

The Oi deal expands the scope of business opportunities for FirstCry and may bring a captive audience to push its products. Whether it intends to take this game plan to a national level is not something to be seen only but also expected that it could make it exciting for playschool firms looking to expand with external funding or to sell out completely.

Last week The Economic Times reported that KKR-backed Eurokids is in talks to buy Essel Group's pre-school chain Kidzee.

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