Saudi Arabia-based food and retail conglomerate Savola Group has established a corporate venture capital (CVC) arm and has completed two investments so far this year. The first was in UAE-based Lyve, formerly One Click Delivery Services, in which Savola led in its Series B investment round. The second was the full acquisition of Saudi- based e-grocery pureplay, Lilbab, Panda Retail Company, which was rebranded as PandaClick in 2020. The transactions were funded from internal cashflows and the amount of investments were undisclosed.
The company’s CVC fund aims to invest in disruptive technologies and opportunities in the food and retail space regionally and globally.
“These investments are important pivot plays for us as a group,” said Waleed Khalid Fatani, CEO at Savola Group. “The programme’s focus is to offer opportunities for our operating portfolio companies to benefit from innovative business models to maintain their edge while allowing the Group some capital allocation directly or indirectly in digital and new innovative models in our core sectors.”
The fund will focus on Series A and B investments “that could benefit from our knowledge of the regions we operate in and/or be able to work with our operating companies on new business models within the digital economy”, he added.
Lyve was founded in February 2016 by Hassan Hallas and Walid Moneimne. It aims to tackle the last-mile delivery challenge in Mena, which has been stoked by the exponential growth in food, e-commerce and other delivery services in the region over the past five years.
Lilbab, which was founded by three young Saudi entrepreneurs in 2016 and quickly turned into a full e-grocery platform that connected customers with personal shoppers to deliver groceries from their favourite retailers.
“The initial partnership, which resulted in this acquisition, represents the very best of Saudi entrepreneurship and corporate enterprise working together to create something great to serve our community,” said Bander Talaat Hamooh, CEO of Panda Retail Company. “Both teams worked together through the most difficult of times, exemplifying both our values and our commitment to the communities we serve every day, building a digital platform that will be the cornerstone of Panda omnichannel retail.”