The Czech multinational Rohlik has bought Ulabox, one of the first online supermarkets in Spain, founded in Barcelona in 2010.
The operation, whose price is confidential, has involved the sale of 100% of the shares of the Catalan company, which until now was in the hands of one of the founders, Jaume Gomà, who had more than 50%, and a group of 20 small investors, including the Miquel family (Miquel Alimentació). The rest of the founders, David Baratech and Sergi de Pablos, as well as the Portuguese group Sonae, separated from Ulabox in recent years due to differences in strategy.
Gomà explains to this newspaper that the operation will allow Rohlik to land in Spain. The company Unicorn (valued at more than 1,000 million) plans to invest 50 million euros over the next 5 years with the aim of becoming one of the leading online supermarkets in the country.
Rohlik will open a digital ‘hub’ in Barcelona with more than 50 workers
“The group will operate under the Sezamo.es brand. First it will arrive in Madrid, where it is already building its first warehouse, and then it will expand to other cities,” says Gomà, who will be the head of the multinational in Spain. For now, the Ulabox brand will continue to operate in Barcelona until Sezamo.es lands in the city.
For its landing in the Spanish market, Rohlik plans to hire a total of 200 people this year, in addition to incorporating the 20 workers from Ulabox. The group also plans to open a hub digital in Barcelona, the first to open outside of Prague, where it has its headquarters. “We are looking for between 50 and 100 workers specialized in the development of Android and Java”, details Gomà.
Rohlik is a multinational with a turnover of 300 million euros (according to 2020 results provided in a statement) and that operates in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Germany. In addition, this year, it plans to enter Italy and Romania. Since his birth in 2014, Rohlik has raised more than 340 million euros. Among its main shareholders, several venture capital funds stand out: Index Ventures, Partech, Bank for Reconstruction and Development, KAYA VC and Quadrille Capital, according to the Dealroom portal.
The turnover was about 6 million in 2021
Gomà positively values the new stage within this giant of online supermarkets. “The company will provide resources and infrastructure that will allow it to continue offering consumers fresh, quality products. Rohlik is nourished by agreements with food brands and small businesses. It operates with its own network of warehouses and dark stores and it also has a team of its own delivery men. It guarantees deliveries in less than three hours,” says the manager.
Since its creation in 2010, Ulabox has positioned itself as an upper-middle-range supermarket, specializing in home delivery of a wide range of brands and products from small businesses. In the last two years, it was immersed in a restructuring process of its logistics operations that hindered its growth during the pandemic, a period in which it saw the number of orders skyrocket and which it was unable to fully cover.
According to data from the Mercantile Registry, Ulabox invoiced 10.8 million euros in 2019; around 8.9 million in 2020 and, according to Gomà, about 6 million in 2021. The company was also unable to make a profit. According to 2020 data, it recorded losses of -3.2 million euros compared to -3.8 million in 2019.