Convenience store startup Bianlifeng has filed confidentially for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the United States which is expected to raise over $500 million.
According to Bloomberg, people familiar with the matter said that the Beijing-based startup is currently working with advisers to prepare everything for the IPO. While no official announcement has been made, the IPO could take place as soon as this year depending on regulators.
The source also said that the startup appointed Deborah Wei, a former Goldman Sachs Group investment banker, as Chief Financial Officer in preparation for the move. While there are details to be considered, the new CEO is expected to play an essential role in the decision-making process.
The rumors come at a time when the Chinese government is cracking down on the offshore listing of Chinese companies, with regulators looking to increase restrictions and oversight over them.
However, the operations of the startup in the neighborhood retail industry have proven to be too attractive for investors who are sure to keep a close eye on any developments.
Bianlifeng was founded back in 2016 to allow convenience stores to run without the need of cashiers by allowing customers to buy via QR code scanning, a model that is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
At this time, the company operates in some of China’s biggest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou.
During its 5 years of existence, the company has raised $400 million in funding from venture firms like Hillhouse Capital and Zebra Global Capital Management, with the latest round taking place back in 2020 raising $100 million.
The COVID19 pandemic forced companies around the world to reconsider their business models, with many opting by exploring the high-tech route. Asian countries like Japan have made use of electronic systems to provide customers with a cashier-less experience due to high minimum wages.
In the United States, Chains like Hudson are already implementing Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology to provide customers with such experience.
Now, the Chinese convenience store startup is looking to do the same in the world’s second-biggest economy, which has rapidly adopted technology in different industries to automate labor.