Thursday, 2024 February 29

SoftBank-backed eyewear omnichannel retailer raises USD 220 million for global expansion

SoftBank-backed Indian omnichannel eyewear retailer Lenskart has landed a USD 220 million check from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital to accelerate its global expansion plans.

The new funding—a mix of primary infusion and secondary share sale by existing investors including TPG and IFC—is an extension of the round that the startup had kicked off in May when private equity giant KKR & Co. came on board its cap table after buying shares worth USD 95 million from some of its backers.

Bay Capital and Chiratae also participated in the latest deal, which values Lenskart at USD 2.5 billion, according to a report by local media Economic Times (ET). The company has now raised a total of USD 315 million for this round.

Lenskart, founded in 2010 by Peyush Bansal and Amit Chaudhary, began by selling eyeglasses online. Over the last decade, it has emerged as a leading omnichannel player in a segment with 750 brick-and-mortar eyewear retail outlets across the country. It became a unicorn in late 2019 after SoftBank pumped in USD 275 million. So far, the company has raised over USD 770 million since its inception.

The company, which claims to have become profitable, sold eight million pairs of eyewear last year and aims to grow that number by 30% by March 2022. With the fresh funds, it plans to expand operations in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

“We’re already the largest eyewear player in India and among the top three in Singapore. Lenskart envisions having 50% of India wearing its specs over the next five years,” said Bansal. “We want to become the top eyewear platform in Southeast Asia and the Middle East over the next 18 to 24 months through organic and inorganic expansion.”

The company predicts the combined opportunity for eyewear in Southeast Asia and the Middle East to reach USD 15 billion by 2025, the company said.

Lenskart entered Singapore in 2019 and claims to be the second-largest player in the country with 25 stores. With Temasek as a backer, the eyewear omnichannel retailer is now gearing up to expand into markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Similarly, Falcon Edge Capital is expected to help the company establish its footprint in the Middle East, a region for which it earmarked USD 50 million in investment in January this year. It has already launched its online eyewear store in the UAE and is in the process of opening retail outlets.

“Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital are very strategic to Lenskart in terms of what we want to do in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Temasek is a strong fund with very good knowledge of the Southeast Asia market, and Falcon is extremely knowledgeable about the Middle East market,” Bansal told ET in an interview.

Apart from India, UAE, and Singapore, Lenskart said it has a presence in West Asia and the US. According to Bansal, the company may raise one more round before going public within the next two to three years.

Moulishree Srivastava
Moulishree Srivastava
In-depth, analytical and explainer stories and interviews on technology, internet economy, investments, climate tech and sustainability. Coverage of business strategies, trends in startup and VC ecosystems and cross-border stories capturing the influence of SEA, China and Japan on the local startup industry.

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