Sources Say Chinese Convenience Store Chain Bianlifeng to file US IPO, Denied By Company Spokesperson

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(Source: Bianlifeng)

Sources said today that China’s Internet convenience store brand Bianlifeng is planning to file for an IPO. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and CITIC Securities will act as lead underwriters to arrange the listing.

According to people familiar with the matter, Bianlifeng plans to raise 500 million to 1 billion US dollars and go public in the United States as soon as the end of this year or early next year. A spokesperson for the company denied the news saying it is “not true”.

The fully automated Bianlifeng was founded in December 2016 by Zhuang Chenchao, CEO of Qunar.com, and opened its first offline store in Beijing in February 2017. At the end of last year, Xue Enyuan, executive director of Bianlifeng, said that the company would embark on a “high-speed expansion mode” in 2021. At that point the number of Bianlifeng stores will exceed 4,000, and company will rank among the top five convenience stores in China.

In February 2017, Bianlifeng received a round A investment of 300 million US dollars from Zebra Capital; In October 2018, it received another round B funding of 256 million US dollars, which came from Tencent and Hillhouse Capital. In May 2020, according to insiders of Bianlifeng, the accumulated funds raised have reached 1.5 billion US dollars, all of which are used to invest in its convenience store chain in China.

In the process of rapid expansion of convenience stores, the support of capital and the profitability of stores are the focus of attention. Bianlifeng announced in 2020 that its accumulated funds raised in the past few years have totaled more than  1.5 billion US dollars, and its stores in Beijing have been profitable.

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The rapid development of the domestic convenience store industry led by Bianlifeng  demonstrates the potential of China’s convenience store market.

But the convenience store business is a tough one. In April of this year, Lawson announced that its China business will make full-year profits for the first time in 2020. It has been 25 years since the company entered China, while FamilyMart and 7-11 are only making money in some regions of the country. The former started earning a profit in Shanghai in 2013, while the latter is making money only in Beijing.