(Yicai Global) June 1 -- US growth equity firm General Atlantic has invested CNY300 million (USD47 million) in a Chinese minimart franchise chain, Today to tap the double-digit growth in the country's convenience store sector which is turning increasingly digital.
The retailer features unique advantages due to its fresh food and single-outlet performance, said GA in a statement published by the Wuhan-based firm, adding that the Chinese market still has some considerable room for convenience stores.
Wuhan Today Dream Trading, the company behind Today will invest in online technologies to build up its own retail cloud platform, which will improve its marketing capabilities, said Song Yingchun, the founder and chief executive of the firm. Today expects to become a high-tech company using New Retail technologies in three years, Song added.
New Retail, described by Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma as "the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain," is changing the way Chinese consumers shop, with the internet firms of Tencent and JD.Com rivaling Alibaba on building the digitally enriched eco-chain which diversifies shopping experiences.
After this Series B+ financing round, Today has raised over CNY500 million over the past half year, reaching a valuation of over CNY3 billion.
The growth rate of China's convenience store industry reached 23 percent last year, with the market value hitting CNY190 billion, according to data from China Chain-Store & Franchise Association and Boston Consulting Group.
All the funds raised in this round will be used for the construction and technological updates of outlets in China's Wuhan in Hebei province and the city of Changsha in Hunan, said Song, adding that this will improve its operating efficiency and enhance its superiorities over potential competitors.
The company will conduct one or two rounds of financing in the next years, striving to enter the capital market in three or four years. We are considering going public both on the A-share market and the market in Hong Kong, said Song.
Today has established almost 400 fresh food stores primarily in its home city Wuhan, along with Changsha, and Nanning over the past three years.
Editor: Emmi Laine