Media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL) has struck a Rs 97.5-crore ($15 million) ad-for-equity deal with Gurgaon-based Clues Network Pvt. Ltd, which runs e-commerce firm ShopClues, filings with the Registrar of Companies show.
Just last week, VCCircle reported that Bangalore-based food-tech startup FreshMenu had found a new backer in BCCL, publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times.
The filings also show that ShopClues narrowed its loss in the financial year 2016-17 to Rs 332.7 crore. This augurs well for the company, which has seen mounting losses over the years. From Rs 38 crore in 2013-14, losses had widened to Rs 101 crore in 2014-15, and to Rs 383 crore in 2015-16, according to VCCEdge, the data research arm of News Corp VCCircle.
However, revenue, which essentially comprises fees from merchants, remained largely flat year-on-year. Total income stood at Rs 188.7 crore compared to Rs 178.6 crore in the year prior.
Revenue from operations came in at Rs 180.3 crore, against Rs 161.4 crore in the previous year.
When contacted by VCCircle, ShopClues co-founder Radhika Aggarwal declined to comment.
In FY15, ShopClues registered net sales of Rs 77.3 crore, and it more than doubled this number to Rs 161.4 crore in FY16. That kind of stellar growth seems to be missing this year.
In September, VCCircle had written that ShopClues needed to take some decisive steps on the funding front as it last raised equity funding about 20 months ago, when GIC led a $100-million round valuing the company at $1.1 billion. In May, it raised $7.7 million in venture debt from InnoVen Capital, saying it did not raise equity since it would have meant dilution.
The e-tailer, which has deferred its initial public offering plans, maintains that a Nasdaq listing remains on its agenda. It recently even hired a new chief financial officer to steer the company’s listing plans.
However, VCCircle has learnt from several persons privy to the developments that ShopClues’ merger with a bigger rival is the more likely scenario at this point. Sanjay Sethi, co-founder and CEO of ShopClues, had told Business Standard that the company was open to merger proposals even as it pursued the IPO.
The battle lines in India’s e-commerce market have been redrawn following SoftBank’s mega fund infusion into Flipkart, massive downsizing at Snapdeal, Amazon’s steady rise and Paytm’s acceleration of its e-commerce business.
It remains to be seen how ShopClues establishes itself as a formidable player amid these well-funded names.
News Corp VCCircle competes with The Times of India and The Economic Times in certain segments.
*The article has been revised to include the correct figures for ShopClues' losses for the financial years 2013-14 and 2014-15.