Online store for baby and kids’ products, FirstCry, now ventures into the education space by acquiring Oi Playschool.
The SoftBank-backed company also plans to expand the playschool to more than 1000 centres across the country. Currently, Oi Playschool operates in around 55 centres in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
The deal size was however not disclosed. , but it is reportedly an all-cash transaction to buy the business from Hyderabad’s People Combine Group.
“Our students and employees will both benefit with long-term vision of Firstcry for pre-primary business,” said Rakesh Gupta, managing director of LoEstro Advisors, which acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Oi Play Schools. Founded in 2010, Oi Play School is a dominant player in the key markets it serves.
FirstCry, which retails baby and kids products, also runs a social network for parents, wherein a range of parenting issues are discussed. Called FirstCry Parenting, the platform has 13 Mn monthly active users. Before the current Oi Playschool acquisition, FirstCry in 2016 also acquired Mahindra’s baby care retail business Babyoye for $54 Mn.
In January 2019, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank committed $395.7 Mn (INR 2,824 Cr) in a Series E round of the Pune-based FirstCry.
According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings accessed by Inc42 during the funding, out of the total investment, SoftBank had already paid $149.2 Mn (INR 1,064.9 Cr) and was expected to transfer the remaining $246.49 Mn (INR 1,759.2 Cr) as and when called for in the next two years.
With the current acquisition, the company enters another child-related segment. “We are very happy with the accomplishments Oi Play School achieved over the years. It was a pleasure to work with the company’s management team and LoEstro team and we wish them continued success,” FirstCry CEO Supam Maheshwari said in a statement.
Oi Playschool, like most playschools across the country, operates through a franchise model. Through this acquisition, FirstCry plans to aggressively expand the presence, both through organic and inorganic route, to compete with the likes of KKR-owned EuroKids and Essel Group-owned Kidzee. The playschool segment is currently at $2 Bn and is expected to reach $5 Bn by 2022.
FirstCry was launched in 2010 by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha to offer different categories of baby and kids products including clothing and school essentials from global brands like Funskool, Hotwheels, Nuby, Farlin, Medela, Pampers, Disney among others.
The company currently has more than 300 stores spread across 125 cities and claims to offer 2 Lakh baby and kids products from more than 2,000 brands to 2 Mn customers. The parent company reported a total income of $47.34 Mn (INR 337 Cr) in the fiscal year ending March 2018, a 47.5% jump against $32 Mn (INR 228.35 Cr) in FY17.
Update | 08:50, November 30, 2019