Flipkart, the online retailer controlled by US-based Walmart Inc., has struck its latest bet in the fashion segment by agreeing to invest in Universal Sportsbiz Pvt. Ltd (USPL), which markets brands endorsed by celebrities.
The investment forms part of USPL’s Series F round, Flipkart said in a statement. Venture capital firm Accel also participated in the round. Flipkart didn’t disclose the amount it invested.
The development comes less than two months after VCCircle reported that Flipkart was in talks to invest around $5 million (Rs 36 crore) in USPL while existing investor Accel was also expected to take part in the round.
Flipkart said Thursday that it will work closely with USPL’s managing team to deepen product offerings on its platforms.
“USPL’s unique brands, backed by celebrity endorsements, have a strong appeal for the young fashion-driven Indian consumer,” Flipkart Group chief executive officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy said.
USPL founder and CEO Anjana Reddy said the company’s sales are around 80% of their pre-COVID-19 levels. “We can significantly strengthen our online strategy by working with Flipkart and Myntra, the two prominent players in the Indian online fashion space,” she added. Myntra is the fashion e-tailing arm of Flipkart.
USPL brands include Wrogn, Imara, Ms.Taken and Single, which are backed by celebrities including cricketer Virat Kohli and actors such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon and Ranbir Kapoor.
Apart from its online presence, USPL says its brands are present in over 750 retail outlets across more than 100 cities in the country. It claims it has been growing at 40-50% on a year-on-year basis. According to VCCEdge, the data research arm of Mosaic Digital, USPL reported consolidated net sales of Rs 59.77 crore for the 2018-19 financial year.
The bet on USPL is Flipkart’s latest play in the online – and offline – fashion segment, with the group seeking to fend off other deep-pocketed rivals including Amazon and AJIO, the digital fashion arm of Reliance Retail.
In late October, Flipkart said it would invest Rs 1,500 crore in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd to pick up a 7.8% stake. In August, Myntra said it would buy out actor Deepika Padukone from the All About You brand, which the two had run as equal partners.