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Logistics & Fulfilment

Logistics firm in negotiations with both HelloFresh and Marley Spoon

BeCool Refrigerated Couriers is in negotiations with a range of parties for the potential sale of the business, including both HelloFresh and Marley Spoon, according to a spokesperson for the logistics firm.

This is in contrast to a statement HelloFresh Australia provided on Thursday, which said it had agreed to a non-binding term-sheet allowing it to exclusively explore the opportunity to acquire the assets and associated trade of BeCool.

“We have reached terms that are beneficial to both HelloFresh and Be Cool, however we cannot disclose these terms,” HelloFresh managing director and COO Manutea Dupont on Thursday told Internet Retailing.

A quote from BeCool’s owner David Parkinson in the HelloFresh statement appeared to confirm the acquisition.

“The immediate focus will be to further streamline the operations with HelloFresh and remain the best refrigerated courier solution in Australia, whilst continuing to grow our national footprint,” Parkinson said.

However, a spokesperson for BeCool today confirmed it has been in sale negotiations with both HelloFresh and Marley Spoon for some time. The spokesperson also said it will continue providing logistics services to new and existing clients, regardless who potentially buys the business.

“A condition of the sale of the business to any entity will be a binding guarantee and legal provisions that BeCool will remain an independently operated logistics service provider,” BeCool’s spokesperson said.

“This means BeCool will continue to make its entire network accessible to all clients (existing and new), including Marley Spoon, and will guarantee no interruption of service levels to any client.”

Dupont said HelloFresh is the firm’s largest client. According to the company’s Thursday statement, BeCool also handles 100 per cent of Marley Spoon’s logistics.

Marley Spoon on Thursday declined to comment on the story.

Benefits of vertical integration

Given the challenges of last-mile delivery and perishable goods, meal kit companies are highly reliant on logistics providers, and BeCool is a lynchpin in both HelloFresh and Marley Spoon’s operations.

The acquisition of the company by either party would be a significant win, given the expected cost savings and top-line growth the vertical integration would lead to.

“For HelloFresh the benefits come around securing the supply chain,” Dupont said Thursday.

“It’s been one year since HelloFresh opened their own production facility, and the quality of the product has improved significantly – and ultimately enabled mid-double digit top line growth while strengthening the bottom line. HelloFresh expects to see similar improvements to our customer experience and financials with this further move to own the supply chain,” he said.

HelloFresh currently delivers 2.5 million meals around Australia every month, and has expanded its delivery network beyond capital cities to include suburban and regional areas.

The company recently reported a $5.4 million profit off $126.5 million sales revenue in calendar 2017, its first Australian profit, according to a report in the AFR. 

The Australian arm is part of HelloFresh Group, which is headquartered in Berlin and listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

In the Group-wide earnings report released this month, HelloFresh Australia reported a 50 per cent increase in revenue in the quarter ended March 31, 2018 and said its current run rate is well in excess of $200 million.

Meanwhile, Marley Spoon is pursuing an IPO in Australia. The AFR reported it is seeking $70 million, giving the meal kit company a $199.5 million market valuation.

Updated 10:42 AEST, 1/6/2018

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