China's largest online direct sales company, has led the single biggest deal in the mainland's nascent fresh produce e-commerce market with the completion of a US$70 million investment in Shanghai-based start-up FruitDay.
The financing announced on Monday by JD.com
is likely to heat up competition with Tmall. com, Alibaba's business-to-consumer e-commerce operation, in the online fresh food retail segment, a growing part of the mainland's more than US$1 trillion grocery market.
FruitDay, which was founded in 2009 and claims to be the mainland's largest fresh produce e-commerce company by revenue, will use the proceeds from its third injection of outside capital to accelerate its mainland-wide expansion.
Other investors included American venture capital firm Susquehanna International and mainland private equity fund ClearVue Partners, both of which participated in previous financing rounds in FruitDay.
Shen Haoyu, the chief executive of JD Mall, the business-to-consumer unit of JD.com
said "more and more Chinese consumers nationwide will have the ability to purchase safe and healthy fresh produce online with confidence".
FruitDay will make use of JD.com's
vast online-to-offline delivery infrastructure across the mainland. More than 80 per cent of the produce the start-up sells is imported. It hopes to quadruple its user numbers to more than 15 million this year.
"We believe the strong customer shopping experience and its speedy and efficient last-mile service will help JD.com
continue to attract high-quality merchants to its [online] marketplace," said Alicia Yap, the head of China internet research at Barclays.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: JD.com backs FruitDay with US$70m investment