Berlin Brands Group (BBG) -- one of the new wave of e-commerce startups hoping to build lucrative economies of scale around buying up smaller brands that sell on marketplaces like Amazon and using technology to run and scale them more efficiently -- has picked up a big round of funding to fill out that mission. The startup has closed a round of $700 million, comprising both equity and debt, which it will use in part to continue building its fulfillment and logistics infrastructure, as well as its tech platform, and in part to buy more companies.
BBG confirmed that the investment -- one of the biggest to date in the space -- boosts its valuation to over $1 billion. (PitchBook, I should note, puts the valuation at $1.75 billion although BBG itself is not being that specific.)
Bain Capital is leading the equity portion of this round. The deal will also see it buy out a previous investor, Ardian, for an undisclosed amount that is separate to the $700 million raise.
This funding round is the second announced by BBG this year. In January it announced it would be investing $302 million off its own balance sheet for M&A, and in April it announced a debt round of $240 million. This latest $700 million is different in that it includes the equity component alongside the debt.
BBG got its start initially developing its own products and selling them on Amazon and other marketplaces -- founder and CEO Peter Chaljawski was a DJ in a previous life and started with a focus on audio equipment he developed for himself.
Over time, he saw an opportunity to diversify that into a wider consolidation play, where BBG would also acquire and merge third-party brands into its business, tapping into the opportunity to provide the owners of the third-party businesses an exit route and bring those smaller brands more scale, more marketing nous and more tech to improve the efficiency of their operations.
Today the mix totals 3,700 products and 14 own brands, including Klarstein (kitchen appliances), auna (home electronics and music equipment), Capital Sports (home fitness) and blumfeldt (garden). BBG says it has access to some 1.5 billion e-commerce customers across various marketplaces where it sells goods in Europe, the U.K., the U.S. and Asia. Notably, unlike many others in the same space as BBG, it is focused on more than Amazon, with some 100 channels in 28 countries.
That list of "many others in the same space" is a long one and seemingly growing by the day. Yesterday, two of them -- Heroes and Olsam -- respectively raised $200 million and $165 million. Others leveraging the opportunity of consolidating merchants that sell via Fulfillment by Amazon include Suma Brands ($150 million), Elevate Brands ($250 million), Perch ($775 million), factory14 ($200 million), Thrasio (currently probably the biggest of them all in terms of reach and money raised and ambitions), Heyday, The Razor Group, Branded, SellerX, Berlin Brands Group (X2), Benitago, Latin America’s Valoreo and Rainforest and Una Brands out of Asia.
As more startups enter the fray, battling to buy the best of the third-party brands will become more of a challenge, and so the backing of Bain should help BBG shore up against that competition.
"With Bain Capital's commitment and the additional funding secured, we have set our next milestone on our path to building a global house of brands," said Chaljawski in a statement. "This allows us to tackle strategic goals of acquiring and developing brands globally, as well as the operational and logistical expansion. Bain Capital's experience working with founders worldwide will help us continue our evolution as a leading e-commerce company in scaling brands."
"BBG is a disruptive leader in the rapidly changing consumer goods space. Their ability to develop and scale brands that meet current consumer trends through their highly efficient e-commerce platform gives the company tremendous growth potential in a fast-growing market," added Miray Topay, MD at Bain Capital Private Equity. "We have partnered with many founder-led management teams and look forward to helping Peter and his team achieve their goal of becoming a global leader in consumer e-commerce".