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Chinese online grocery chain Yipien Fresh raised $297 million (RMB 2 billion) in a Series B funding round, led by local internet giant Tencent, to expand the number of its stores and boost its online presence.
Yipien enables consumers to shop for fresh produce on their smartphones, then pick up their orders at a local store or have them delivered.
Other investors in the round include Capital Today, Eastern Bell Capital and Longzhu Capital, the investment arm of China’s Meituan-Dianping.
The investors each bring significant technical expertise to Yipien. The new funding will be used to incorporate Tencent’s Smart Retail system, Capital Today’s business insights, Meituan-Dianping’s delivery system and Eastern Bell’s warehousing and logistics expertise.
“Relying on big data and cloud computing, we aim to achieve end-to-end digitization, which will realize the real integration of online and offline retail,” Yipien’s founder, Jiang Jianfei, said in a release.
Yipien, with stores in 10 Chinese cities, says it has an operating profit. It aims to have 1,000 stores across the country by the end of 2019.
Tencent’s business in China is booming as the country’s consumers increasingly go online. Revenue in 2018 was up 32 percent to $45.56 billion from a year earlier, and profit rose 10 percent to $11.65 billion.
Tencent owns more than 11 percent of Yipien Fresh, according to news site Kr-Asia.com. Corporate records show Tencent owns 2.86% of Yipien Fresh’s parent, Chongqing Yipienhong Technology Company Limited; and Tencent subsidiary Tencent Mobility holds an 11.43% stake in Yipien. No price was given for the holdings.
Tencent recently invested in Yonghui, one of China’s fastest-growing brick-and-mortar grocery chains, e-commerce giant JD.com, and social commerce app Pinduoduo which targets bargain-hunters in China’s smaller cities. Tencent and JD.com recently launched a fresh-food supermarket chain called 7Fresh.