At the top of today’s roundup, automated retail is all the rage in China, with a startup that operates checkout-free convenience stores and snack shelves bagging a new investment round led by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial. Co-working is also in the headlines as Indian flexible office operator Workafella gears up to challenge WeWork. And mezzanine loans are proving popular with credit-squeezed mainland developers, so read on for all the details.
Chinese checkout-free convenience store operator Xingbianli has completed a new round of multi-million yuan financing despite reported cost-saving measures, including job cuts. It shows investors’ confidence in unmanned retail stores in a fast-growing market as Alibaba Group Holding’s financial affiliate Ant Financial Services Group led the latest round of funding.
The firm received funds worth hundreds of millions of yuan from Ant Financial, followed by its existing shareholders, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed China Partners, China Renaissance, and Vision Plus Capital, Yicai Global learned from the company. Read more>>
Former garment exporter turned developer Harinder Rattha is challenging WeWork to emerge as India’s largest co-working space operator as he hits the deal street to raise about $150 million at over $1 billion valuation.
With 7,000 seats in operation, Rattha-promoted Workafella has signed up for space across India to take it to 18,000 in a year and 40,000 in two years. “We are fully funded for the phase up to 18,000 seats. All work in connection with the expansion has begun,” Harinder Rattha, chairman of the group said. “We are looking out for some investor who can bring in value and not just money.” Workafella is learnt to have signed with investment banker Mape Advisory to raise the funds. Read more>>
Chinese property companies are increasingly tapping expensive mezzanine loans as they seek out higher returns, a trend that could undermine government efforts to cool the country’s booming real estate sector and rein in debt.
Many developers are turning to offshore mezzanine loans as government measures to tighten credit and clamp down on shadow banking in China are increasingly felt, according to lenders. Others are taking out the loans for M&A activities or to raise working capital that would allow them to prolong construction periods in hopes that the government will lift price caps on new projects, the lenders say. Read more>>
Luxury French retailer Galeries Lafayette is growing their presence in China by opening two new locations in Shanghai. The first shop is set to open in the Shanghai Pudong Mall and the other will be located in L+MALL, right in the heart of Lujiazui in Pudong, Xinhua reports. Both locations will be open for business by the end of this year.
The Shanghai Pudong Mall location will span four floors and cover over 7,600 square metres, WWD reports. HMKM, an acclaimed London-based architectural studio, will design the interior of the store. The Lujiazui location in L+MALL will be much larger, measuring a whopping 23,100 square metres. Read more>>
Some tourists on their way to Japan have begun looking for alternative lodgings now that their Airbnb bookings have been cancelled. Last week, the home-sharing pioneer pulled the listings of its Japan hosts who have yet to complete a registration process and acquire licenses under a new law that takes effect on Friday.
The ensuing confusion may accelerate when other home-sharing platforms follow suit; it could also dent Japan’s high-flying tourism industry. In spring, Airbnb had more than 62,000 Japan listings, a number that has since been culled by about 80%. Bookings at the effected properties that were to begin on Friday or later have been cancelled. Read more>>
Starbucks’ new, much-heralded policy of allowing people to chill in their stores whether they’re customers or not isn’t the only big news out of the US-based coffee giant this week. They’ve also opened what’s being called their “second-largest” store in the world in late May, and it’s right here in Bangkok.
The brand new store — dubbed the second-largest by the mall’s PR team — is located on the first floor of CentralWorld and features a co-working space and two meeting rooms. It looks nearly as neat as the world’s largest Starbucks, in Shanghai, which stretches over some 2,694 square metres. Read more>>