Weekly News Wrap: Alibaba mulls $10b fundraising for Freshippo; JD launches robotic shops in Netherlands

And Uniqlo raised prices for some products due to high production costs.

From Bloomberg:

Alibaba Group is considering raising funds for its high-tech grocery chain at a proposed valuation of $10b, according to people familiar with the matter.

Freshippo is working with an adviser on an exclusive list of potential strategic and financial investors that will be invited to join the funding round, which is likely to kick off next month, the people said, asking not to be named discussing a private matter.

The separate fundraising suggests the prospect that Alibaba may consider spinning off the chain as a separate business, unlocking some of the value in a brand that once formed the centerpiece of its burgeoning physical retail operation. Alibaba has yet to decide on the size of Freshippo’s planned fundraising, though the e-commerce giant will retain a major stake in its new retail arm after the funding round, the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty they will lead to any transaction, they added.

Read more here.

From CNBC:

JD.com has opened two retail stores in the Netherlands that it says will be manned with robots preparing and delivering packages.

The “robotic shops,” branded Ochama, are located in the cities of Leiden and Rotterdam and mark JD.com’s first foray into Europe with bricks and mortar locations. It highlights the Chinese giant’s ambitions to expand beyond China.

JD.com said that shoppers can use the Ochama app to order products from food to beauty and home furnishings. They can then go to the store where automated vehicles and robotic arms will pick and sort orders.

Read more here.

From Reuters:

Uniqlo will have to raise prices of some products due to higher costs for raw materials and shipping, its owner said, becoming a high-profile example of Japanese firms throwing off a decades-old deflationary trend.

The comments from Fast Retailing, which reported a near 6% rise in quarterly operating profit thanks to a strong showing in overseas markets outside of China, come as more Japanese firms say they can no longer offset soaring costs with belt-tightening.

Years of stagnant prices and wages have made Japan Inc nervous about charging more for fear of alienating shoppers and losing market share. But the weakening yen is further driving up costs adding to the inflationary pain following the pandemic.

"We have reached a point where we have no choice but to raise the prices of some products," Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki told reporters in Tokyo, citing weakness in the yen that is driving up the cost of raw materials and shipping.

Read more here.


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