Leading eyewear unicorn Lenskart has picked up a controlling stake in Japanese direct-to-consumer (D2C) eyewear brand Owndays, in a bid to place itself as one of the largest omni-channel players in the category in Asia.
Lenskart intends to foray into 13 markets in Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan, through this investment.
Founded in 2008 by Bansal, Amit Chaudhary, Neha Bansal and Sumeet Kapahi, Lenskart, in addition to its online platform, has a wholesale division engaged in the assembly, distribution and supply of eyewear.
“The way people buy eyewear is changing rapidly. In today’s age, the customer wants great products, great prices and delightful experiences all the time. With Owndays, we move a step closer to democratizing eyewear,” said Peyush Bansal, co-founder, and group chief executive officer at Lenskart.
The transaction has provided an exit to L Catterton Asia, Mitsui & Co and Principal Investments, the majority shareholders of Owndays. The financial contours of the deal couldn’t be immediately ascertained.
Owndays co-founders, Shuji Tanaka (CEO) and Take Umiyama (COO) will continue to be shareholders and lead the management team of Owndays Inc., which will continue to operate as a separate brand.
“I believe digital transformation is the key to our next phase of growth in the post-pandemic operating environment and I am excited to partner with Lenskart, which has deep expertise and intellectual capital in the information technology field,” said Tanaka, co-founder of the Japanese firm.
In April this year, it secured $100 million in fresh infusion from new investor Alpha Wave Ventures. In May last year, Lenskart raised $95 million in funding led by private equity firm KKR & CO Inc. It turned unicorn in December 2019 after raising $275 million from SoftBank Vision Fund.
In May, the eyebrand brand announced an investment of $100 million in Singapore-based eyewear brand Neso in a seed funding round.
Recently, Lenskart announced the expansion of its online presence by offering its products on Nykaa, Myntra, Tata Cliq and other platforms.
Apart from online sales, the company also has over 1,000 franchise stores and by the fiscal year 2023, it is looking to open 400 outlets across the country.
In June 2021, Lenskart set up a vision fund with a corpus of $20 million (Rs 148 crore) for eyecare startups as it looks to tap into a niche segment in India’s growing healthcare industry.
The company eyes investment up to $2 million in each of the selected startups through its vision fund.