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GS Retail ramps up pet care footprint with M&As

A promotional image of Pet Friends' pet care product delivery service (Pet Friends)
A promotional image of Pet Friends' pet care product delivery service (Pet Friends)
Convenience store franchise operator GS Retail said Wednesday it inked a deal to acquire a controlling stake in online pet care retailer startup Pet Friends through working with local private equity house IMM Private Equity. 

Upon completion of the deal, GS Retail and IMM PE is expected to control a combined 95 percent of shares in Pet Friends, a company dedicated to delivery of pet products, consultation and snack sampling tests through an online channel, from founder and CEO Kim Chang-won and venture capitalists including STIC Ventures.

GS Retail is currently a minority stakeholder in Pet Friends with over 15 percent stake after a merger with GS Home Shopping in June. Following the deal close, GS Retail will likely control a 30 percent stake by adding a 32.5 billion won ($28.2 million) investment in the company.

Pet Friends logged 31.4 billion won in revenue in 2020, up threefold over a year. Its net loss came to 6.6 billion won the same year.

“GS Retail aims to offer a pet care service in every stage of a pet’s lifecycle in the rapidly growing 'petconomy' market, and we will continue to help pet owners and animals maintain their companionship to each other,” Lee Sung-hwa, head of corporate development at GS Retail, said in a statement.

The latest development builds on GS Retail’s commitment to the growing pet care ecommerce market in Korea, in line with its earlier pledge this year to invest a combined 1 trillion won to strengthen a new line of business over the next five years.

GS Retail already owns a controlling 57.1 percent stake in Petsbe, a subscription-based online pet product retailer. The company was rebranded as AboutPet in March, following its business consolidation with its two pet-related subsidiaries in November 2020.

In the meantime, GS Retail has also taken part in venture investment in pet sitter hiring platform Dogmate, customized pet food retailer Petpick and pet fitness robot maker Varram, according to the company.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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